By Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Danny Miki, and FCO Plascencia
Batman continues to be one of (if not the) best books DC Comics releases every month. The drastic, post-Convergence direction for Batman would be a slog in most people’s hands. This creative team, however, manages to weave a tale that is action packed, heart touching, fun, and utterly compelling in every sense of the word.
The plot is handled quite nimbly, as we catch a daring escape and rescue for Jim Gordon/Batman and witness Bruce Wayne has he deals with the fallout of “Endgame” and its effects on Gotham. While both of these, on the surface, could lean towards dark and serious, Snyder and Capullo hit the reader with a heavy dose of fun. Without giving away too much, it’s safe to say that robot Batman’s choice of weapon garnered a legit laugh out of this reviewer. Furthermore, Bruce Wayne’s handling of Joker’s troublesome gags is a nice, light-hearted touch. This issue excellently examines what if Bruce Wayne was never Batman. This question is not something that has been truly tackled before. Snyder found a way to separate the two, and what he is doing with this plot is quite interesting. We see that, despite no longer wearing the cape and cowl, Bruce Wayne wants to be an agent for progressive change and bring good to Gotham City. Eventually, we all know that Bruce will return as the Dark Knight. How that will be done will take some careful crafting. In the meantime, this new take on Bruce’s drive to make Gotham great is captivating and touching.
Capullo’s line work, as usual, is impeccable. The last page of this book is one of the best looking pages you’ll ever see. And the opening pages, featuring Jim Gordon steeped in flame, are equally fascinating. Capullo excels across the board, whether it be a scene steeped in shadow, an action sequence, or a deep and expressive character shot. Above all though, Capullo’s post-fight panels are gorgeous. He shows the effects of a fight better than anyone in the business. His characters truly reflect the pain they’ve dealt with. FCO Plascencia’s color work is also excellent. His use of bright colors along with stark contrasting shadows helps these pages sing. Capullo, Miki, and Plascencia’s work together brings about some of the best pages in comics today.
While this book is due some hefty praise, it’s not without some flaws. The major distraction in the early part of this book detracts from how great Bruce Wayne was as Batman. He is smart enough to get out of any dire situation. Jim Gordon does something on Bruce Wayne’s level early on that could pull readers out of the story, because it cheapens Bruce Wayne’s Batman as a character every so slightly. Also, the villain of this arc, Mr. Bloom, has still been left in the background. At this point in the story, it’d be preferable to have little more information about this new character. Then again, it’s hard not to be confident that Snyder will deliver the goods on this at the right time.
In Snyder’s hands, this book continues to deliver both shocking and surprising moments. While we can’t expect this current status quo to last too long, the entire creative team is doing the most with it. It’s not perfect, but this chapter, with its diverse array of moods, settings, and character beats, is a very enjoyable read.