Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. Today’s page is from Batgirl #17, which was published by DC and is cover dated March 2011. Enjoy!
This is the first issue of Batgirl that I bought, and I liked it so much I ended buying the rest of the run before the big reboot wiped it from existence. This, however, isn’t a great first page. Back in the day, splash pages were the first pages of comics, but recently (I write “recently,” but it’s been going on for a while) the trend has been to putting the splash pages on the second page and use the first page to build up to it, and that’s what we get here. Bryan Q. Miller puts in Wayne Tower, “super-early,” the usage of which helps ease us into the fact that this is a book about teenagers without being to obvious. The old bald dude (it’s Alfred, but we might not know that) is showing off his dry sense of humor, as he tells “Master Damian” that getting up early is good for your discriminating young vigilante. That’s really the only piece of information we get on this page – Damian is a vigilante and he sleeps in Wayne Tower. Of course, we get more throughout the book if we don’t, in fact, read Batman books regularly, but as far as the first page, that’s it.
Pere Pérez draws this page, and it’s not bad. The first shot is nice, giving us a sense of the height of Wayne Tower and the nice layout of the courtyard on the ground. Even if we don’t know who this “Wayne” guy is, it’s clear that there’s a lot of money involved here. Alfred reveals himself by walking from the darkness to the window, where he opens the draperies, showing us what he looks like. Again, there’s not a lot of visual information on the page, because both Miller and Pérez are leading up to the splash on Page 2, where Damian is already up and doing exercises and he startles Alfred a bit. But you’ll notice that Pérez constantly points us from the left to the right side of the page and angles us slowly from top to bottom. The first panel is aligned upward, with Alfred’s word balloon on the left and the courtyard extending out of the panel to the right. Alfred walks in from the left in Panel 2, and then he looks outside from the left to the right. All of this pushes up from the top left to the bottom right, and it’s a nice, subtly designed page. Damian is behind Alfred in Panel 3 (even though we don’t see him), so on the next page, when he’s behind Alfred, we’re still oriented the same way but the flow of the page-to-page storytelling isn’t interrupted.
If the whole point of the page is to get you to turn it, ending the page with an ellipsis is a sneaky trick, but a lot of writers do it. This isn’t the best first page in the world, but if we take it in conjunction with Page 2, it’s not bad. Plus, Damian is awesome. It’s true!
Next: I honestly can’t believe I own this comic book. It was collected in a trade of another title, which is how it got thrown in there. But it’s one of those comics you can’t believe lasted for years and years, but it did! Check out some other long-running titles in the archives!
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