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Batman #38

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By Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Danny Miki, Fco Plascencia, James Tynion IV, Sam Kieth, Ronda Pattison

The last issue of Batman (#37) was something truly special. It was a fine piece of art that creator-owned snobs don’t like since it proves their “Big Two comics have nothing of value to contribute” arguments to be beyond false. Needless to say, that set quite a standard. While issue 38 isn’t quite as perfect, it’s pretty darn close.

So, Gotham has gone to hell in a handbasket (again). Batman devotes the majority of the issue searching for answers, which eventually leads him to Dr. Dekker AKA Crazy Quilt. This is where Capullo is at his best, giving a creepy facelift to a golden age character generally relegated to “Worst Batman Villains of All-Time” lists on the internet. Not only is he donning a quilt, but he’s also surrounded by paintings, which is a nice reference to his original origin. Capullo, what else can we say? You’re the best, man.

Speaking of the best, Danny Miki and Fco Plascencia are on a roll. Their expressions of shadow/light helps the story in ways a lot of inkers and colorists simply cannot accomplish. This is a special art team that deserves all the praise they get and more.

Throughout the issue, Batman becomes increasingly panicked. Snyder gradually builds up the stakes, which presents a rare glimpse of Bruce at his most vulnerable. For the first time in this version of Batman’s career, he’s at a genuine sense of loss. He has no plan and no clue as to what his next moves should be. Joker appears to have him beat and Snyder convinces the reader that maybe that’s how this is going to end.

Unfortunately, the backup story is not quite as polished. Tynion’s new abstract style has been pretty great, but this is the issue where it finally falls flat. It feels more like jibberish, instead of a Morrison-like set of themes/ideas. At least the art is wonderful. It’s always an honor and privilege to lay eyes on Sam Kieth’s work. This is the guy who created The Maxx! A round of applause is also in order for Ronda Pattison’s stunning colors. She has been working on The Maxx: Maxximized, so putting these two together was definitely the way to go.

Well, it looks like Endgame could be Snyder and Capullo’s best. If that last page is anything to go by, things are about to get even crazier. This is Batman comics at its absolute finest.

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