In which I offer complaint.

*Oh look at that. I’m getting hustled around today, and I don’t have as much time as I’d hoped - kind of wanted to finish this review of Optic Nerve #9 and #10 I’m working on, since I’m quite enjoying the way the story is going - it’s easy to forget Tomine’s less immediate (i.e. non-visual) strengths, what with the gaps between releases and all, but he’s got one of the stronger talents for characterization that the comics environment current sports. I also really appreciate the added vein of dry, unassuming humor that this storyline has, and he’s doing some fun stuff with chapter-by-chapter structure, and even the letters pages. Probably Tuesday or so I’ll put all of this stuff into proper reviewing format. Demo is tomorrow, barring any unforeseen calamity.

All Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder #1 Special Edition

Obviously, there’s no need for a formal ‘review’ of what’s essentially a premium package of bonus material for this already massive-selling series. For what it is - the complete issue #1 art rendered in Jim Lee’s b&w pencils on one side, and the complete issue #1 script by Frank Miller on the other - it’s fairly well done. But it didn’t have to settle for only ‘fairly’ - there’s quibbles to make.

For example, there’s absolutely no need for advertisements to be interspersed throughout the package. This isn’t a regular comic, nor part of any standard reading experience; it’s a four dollar bonus book that’s only ever going to be purchased by people who enjoyed the actual comic (and thus were exposed to ads the first time around). If you’re going to release a Special Edition pamphlet of this sort to supplement a current release, the least that can be done is pushing the ads to the back (a la ABC), or maybe relegating them to some border zone between the two sections of bonuses. But I’m not even convinced that ads are necessary. Indeed, I only counted 12 ad pages interspersed between 44 pages of content, as opposed to 14 pages of ads (I’m counting the typical DC info page) interspersed between 22 pages of content in the actual issue #1 - so there’s obviously been a reduction in ad space. Why place the remaining ads in distracting places, then? Why not make a little extra push to prevent annoyance?

I also can’t quite support the decision to plaster lettering and sound effects all over the art. I can, however, understand the utility here - it does make it easy to flip back and forth between Miller’s script and Lee’s art to compare the two. But really, if I may repeat myself, nobody is likely to shell out four bucks for this thing that didn’t already enjoy the actual comic. And I’m willing to bet an audience that’s up for study of Lee’s pencils and compare/contrast sessions with Miller’s script isn’t going to complain too loudly if they have to pull out their copy of vanilla issue #1 to check the dialogue placement. As it stands, the color sound effects and the balloons only obscure one’s study of the b&w art, and distract the eye.

I don’t know if DC is planning to plug up the time gaps between issues with additional Special Editions of future issues (I kind of hope they do - Miller’s asides and instructions to Lee are a hoot, even if his humor seems to flag as the script goes on), but I think that at least driving the ads somewhere else would enhance the experience. Most readers are willing to accept interspersed ads in their Big Two comics (to a point - note the recent backlash against Marvel’s temporary upping of ad pages), but doing to same to a supplementary book of extras? That’s just irritating. And why irritate folks who’re ready to shell out extra cash?