As Batman’s friends and family endlessly search for his whereabouts the man himself stumbles endlessly around a labyrinth beneath the City of Gotham. The Owls have Batman exactly where they want him, and this time – Batman may not be able to escape.
What I liked
Batman is getting beaten: I keep saying this over and over again, so I’ll keep it brief. Batman recently has been taken down a peg or two, making him a more believable character but more importantly, dispelling the Batman wins because well... “I’m Batman” jokes. As much as I love the whole Batman mythology, he had been getting a bit too ridiculous of late (which is part of the reason I really enjoyed Grayson’s less confident approach to being Batman before the New 52 did away with that). This issue takes Batman to his limits and for the first time in a while it legitimately looks like it is plausible that Batman may not be saving the day.
Not a standard issue: This issue feels very conventional, but at the same time very suitable for the desired situation; from literally having to turn the comic ninety or a hundred-and-eighty degrees as Batman runs through the labyrinth and further descends into madness to the use of repetition to show the futility of Batman’s endeavour. This issue is almost poetic in its symbolism (the Bat signal exploding and Batman slowly turning into an owl, for example) and structure and should not be glanced over or taken for granted.
The Art: I don’t often comment on art. Not because I rarely think the art in comics is good – more because I don’t often feel qualified to talk about it, I am not artist or much of an art connoisseur. However, when I do mention the art, it means that even I can tell the art is good. The art in the first few issues of this new Batman series were a bit shaky with Bruce Wayne and Lincoln March looking exactly the same, and the Robins all looking pretty similar too. Yet, regardless of previous issues – this one nails it! We are given a lot of subtle visual imagery throughout the issue which is perfectly in synch with Snyder’s writing. I can only Greg Cupullo keeps this up and will soon be a name we hear as frequently as Doug Mahnke or John Romita Jr. (to name but a few).
A new side to Batman: Batman often puts on a cool, calm and collected exterior; he is the one people fear and thus, in turn, must remain fearless - which sometimes this is a shame. I say it is a shame because we don’t really get to see the man behind the “act”; a part of Batman’s intrigue is that he is only human yet we never really see his humanity show through the facade of Batman. Even in Grant Morrison’s Batman R.I.P, where Batman was meant to psychology break – we didn’t really see a broken person, we saw a broken Batman. However, in this issue Batman seems very human and it is nice to be given the chance to explore this rare side to his persona.
What I didn’t like
It ended: Cheesy, I know. I don’t often like to do this. But *coughs* I WANT MORE!!
The legitimacy of The Owls: This is such a minor complaint, but I am still not sure how well the fact that the Court of Owls have existed for three-hundred years sits with me. Of course, I am almost certain that there will be an explanation or rationalization for this, and Batman himself not being able to accept their historical presence in Gotham makes me a feel a bit more reassured.
This issue has given Batman a breath of new life and promises more for Batman as a character, because if Batman’s enemies are getting tougher, so must he. If you aren’t reading Batman as a series, you should still get this issue and appreciate all that it has to offer. Scott Snyder is a genius and one of the best comicbook writers today. Read this! Then read Gates of Gotham. Then read his run on Detective Comics. Then read American Vampire.