The Comic Stop: Andy Burns On Near Death #1 and Batman #1

Two new series started their run this week – one, a familiar caped and cowled vigilante, the other a hitman who develops a conscience after a run in with the afterlife. Both of them are worth your money. Here’s why:

Near Death #1
Written by: Jay Faerber
Illustrated by: Simone Guglielmini
Image Comics

Near Death is a new, ongoing crime series that introduces us to a hitman named Markham. When we meet him in the first few pages, he’s injured after a botched job. As he closes in on death, he has an experience that changes him, apparently for the better. Can a hitman with hundreds of murders to his credit find redemption? That seems to be the big question that Near Death will be dealing with for its run.

Written by  Jay Faerber (Dynamo 5, Gemini), Near Death #1 starts off strong and maintains a quick pace throughout the pages. While the near death experience hints at a bit of the supernatural, I think that we’re looking at more of a crime-centered tale, which is all good with me if that’s the direction the story takes. By the end of the first issue, Markham has committed his first good deed, though the reader is left knowing payback for his actions will be coming for him. Fans of BOOM! Studios’ Incorruptible should definitely check out Near Death, as it mines similar territory but in a more real world setting.

Batman #1
Written by: Scott Snyder
Illustrated by: Greg Capullo & Jonathan Glapion
DC Comics

Another week, another DC 52 relaunch. First off, it’s worth noting that I haven’t read a Batman series in a very long time. I haven’t had much interest in the convoluted world Grant Morrison had created for Bruce Wayne, but since we’re starting from scratch, and with Scott Snyder (American Vampire) writing the series, I was willing to give the title a shot.

Much like Near Death, Batman starts off strong, with a great fight scene with a twist I didn’t see coming. As the story progresses, the best of the character is on display – we get a sense of Batman’s relationships with his brood (Damien Wayne, Dick Grayson and Tim Drake) and the cops of Gotham. We see Batman the fighter and the detective with a mystery to solve. It’s simple, straightforward and a perfect jumping on point for new readers.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to think of the whole 52 initiative, but of the three titles I’ve read so far, we’re looking at two winners (Action Comics and Batman) and one “we’ll see” (Justice League). Not a horrible batting average.

Both Near Death #1 and Batman #1 are in comic shops now. Check them for a great double dose of crime tales.

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