Scott Snyder is an amazing Batman writer. His characterization is spot on and he infuses every story with the perfect balance of mystery, detective work, and high-octane action. I gave issue #1 a 10/10 and this book was solid as well. So this is going to be that rare review where I focus more on the art, which I loved in issue #1, but felt became too messy in this. It’s still the best Batman book out this month– yeah, I know Batman: The Dark Knight #2 hasn’t come out yet. I stand by what I said. Since it’s not hard to find praise for this book online (I did a quick Google search and found that most sites are giving this a 5/5). I’m going to address the book’s problems more than its strengths (which are ample). Still, though, the book’s going to get like a 8.5 or 9 from me.
I Know Something Cool Happened…But What?
As much as I like Greg Capullo’s art, I don’t think he handles action that well. An opening action scene which had all the elements to be awesome was neutered by the confusing way Capullo illustrated it. For instance, the bad guys in the chopper are going to force Batman to drive his bike into an oncoming train, but it turns out that that’s exactly what Batman wants to do. He’s going to ride out ahead, get on that train, then turn around and drive right into the cockpit of the helicopter. Cool, right? Not when the action packed scene is laid out in such a cluttered way. The final two panels of the page are crammed so tightly together that they appear to be one shot. By filling both panels with sillhoetes it looks like one big shot of a bridge and a weird smoke projection coming up from the horizon under the bridge. It took a while for me to figure out how Batman got on top of the train, then I finally realized that the shot wasn’t of the bridge as a whole, it’s a 2nd shot from the perspective of the train’s underside as Batman boosts up and over. A cool idea, poorly executed.
And then I thought, well, why don’t the bad guys just fly away from the tracks now? They’re in a helicopter after all and those have a habit of being pretty darn maneuverable. More so than most vehicles, what with the added option of going up and whatnot. The writing tries to put that thought out of our minds by having the pilot cry out that he can’t turn because the alley is too narrow…well, that shot Capullo just showed us on the following page looked very, very open. And even though the shot of Batman flying into the chopper has some more buildings around it in the background—it doesn’t make sense. The moment of impact would have had to of happened in the next 2 seconds on the open bridge in the picture above which could be avoided by just turning left.
Everybody Looks Like Wayne
This is a problem with pretty much every Batman book out there. Batgirl #2 showed Barbara with a guy that looked identical to Dick Grayson. Nightwing #2 showed Dick with a girl that looked identical to Barbara Gordon. Most Superhero books have this problem of non-unique looking true-identities with the same parted hair and same jaw line. Batman #2 has a problem, not with telling Dick and Bruce apart, but with telling Bruce and Linocln March apart. Bruce’s hair is a little more wavy and he’s about an inch shorter. Also, March wears a white suit while Bruce wears a black one. Other than that, they could be twins.
The Only Problems with the Story
There aren’t a lot of problems with the story side of things. Just a couple minor nit-picks. –SPOILERS–Let’s look at the twist from the last issue: the DNA match of Dick Grayson at the crime scene. The victim had Dick Grayson’s skin under his fingernails and that raised quite a few questions. However, that was answered in rather anti-climactic fashion here. Dick explains that the victim had grabbed him by the arm about a week ago and Batman had already seen the video footage to back-up Dick’s alibi. It was such a cool twist to the previous issue and seeing it swept under the rug so easily just wasn’t satisfying.
My only other problem was with The Court of Owls. I had my fill of secret societies with Grant Morrison’s run. The only comfort is that I’m sure Snyder will handle the Owls better than Morrison’s Black Glove or Club of Villains and whatever other nonsense came out of all that. (I’m admittedly not a fan of Morrison’s Batman work. I find him to be better suited for fantasy and science fiction. I’m really enjoying Action Comics right now)
As for the Owl guy’s costume…I’m on the fence about it. It’s riding the fine line between threatening and silly.
I love the art except for that one jarring scene and the similarities between Bruce and March, the story has all the elements that make a great Batman story, and the sepia tone Gotham (think Batman Begins) and the cool blue hued Batcave are nice touches. And I’m a little less excited about this book since we’re doing the secret society business, again. But the way Snyder builds on the history of Gotham, shows off Batman’s latest gadgets and brings spot-on characterization to Bruce/Batman and Gordon while also delivering an action packed finale…it’s just a damn fine comic.