Batman #53 (DC Comics)

Runners Up: Extermination #1 (Marvel Comics), Archie Meets Batman ’66 #2 (Archie Comics)

I make no effort to hide that I believe Batman to be the greatest superhero ever created. Through the years, he and his cast have evolved into complex figures, set inside a fascinating city. Some of Batman’s allies and enemies rival the popularity of many of the industry’s greatest icons. But, this comes at a price. With so many stories told about Bruce Wayne and Company, sometimes it can be difficult to find a new commentary. Taking a page from Frank Miller, Tom King and Lee Weeks look to what makes The Bat tick.

In my recent Batman starter guide, I compared Year One to Daredevil: Born Again, as an exercise in character deconstruction. While I think that claim holds true, Cold Days may end up an even more convincing parallel. Coming off a controversial wedding arc, King’s narrative didn’t appear as strong as it has in the past. As a huge fan of his work, even I have to admit it came off a bit clich√©. After reading this issue, I think I know what they’re getting at. If, as claimed in the book, this was Bane’s “breaking” of Batman, it should have a huge psychological impact on our hero. In an industry that too often pushes huge events with little ramification, here King has commented on the trend. The wedding was a big, overblown event with a tragic outcome. Instead of the heroes getting back to normal, they have been damaged by it. Through this lens, King is able to deconstruct Batman and likely build him back up into an even stronger figure.

Speaking of events, The X-Men swing out of their wedding story and into the new Extermination mini-series. The mutant titles have been especially strong in recent months, and Extermination brings them back into conflict with a classic villain or two. It also appears to be the final chapter in the time-displaced mutant saga that began in 2012’s All New X-Men. I’ve not been the biggest supporter of this particular group of time-travelers, with the exception of Greg Rucka’s heinously underrated Cyclops run, but here Ed Brisson, Pepe Larraz and Marte Gracia genuinely made me care about their fate. It is also nice to see the teams mingling a little bit, and I’m hoping the number of books is reduced after the events of this one.

Last up is Archie Meets Batman ’66, brought to us by Jeff Parker, Michael Moreci, Dan Parent and J. Bone. Parker and Moreci have a knack for nostalgia, and with the classic art of Parent and Bone, really hit this one out of the park. If you’re looking for some fun this week, this is your book!