Before we get started, I just want to point out how hilariously different the New 52 Batman #27 cover is from the original Batman #27 from 1945:
You could not ask for two things more opposite from one another.
Anyway, moving on to the actual review: I could write one of my enormous 2,000+ word pieces taking this one apart because there is a whole lot of content to Batman #27, but I’m going to try and keep it as brief as possible because I have other pressing deadlines elsewhere.
This issue picks up exactly where the last chapter left off with Batman getting ambushed by the GCPD and it essentially plays out like a far more colorful version of the Batman vs. SWAT scene from Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One. But the color and the setting isn’t the only thing setting Snyder and Capullo’s work apart from Miller and Mazzucchelli, it’s that Zero Year Batman struggles more against the opposition and the dynamic between our hero and Jim Gordon has been flipped. Rather than following a Batman in the aftermath of this fight who attempts to forge an alliance with the GCPD, Gordon is the one reaching out to The Dark Knight and I thought that this was a clever change to the classic origin story (an example of a change to the tried-and-true that I don’t like can be found in the review of Batman and Two-Face #27). Of course, this meeting between the future partners in crime-fighting does lead to a rather long flashback sequence that’s somewhat jarring after the fast-paced intensity of Batman’s battle with the GCPD.
Batman #27 is oddly paced. You’ll be gasping for air during the first and third act, but the middle gets so wordy that some readers might get fatigued as Alfred and Gordon go into lengthy speeches that detail their past or attempt to define Batman’s underlying motivations. I found myself enjoying Alfred’s monologue a great deal and thought he had the best lines of the book. In fact, the “Bear Witness” speech might be the best monologue Snyder has written yet! Gordon, on the other hand, shared a story that explained the coat (What’s with Gordon and coats lately? First it was The Dark Knight Rises and now this. The man never forgets a coat!) from the previous issue’s flashback. It’s a fine enough story, but it just didn’t feel like the right time to tell it given the situation he and Batman were in at the time. I also found Gordon’s behavior during the flashback to be too forthcoming. When confronted with police corruption– literally surrounded by corrupt cops, thugs, and rabid dogs– Gordon threatens to tattle to higher ups and the media. Sure, both options are the right thing to do, but to outright say that in that very moment? Gordon is smarter than that. There’s a difference between standing up for what’s right and just being naive.
Most importantly, with the Gordon and Alfred scenes we see these two strong supporting characters realizing Batman’s importance, the sheer magnitude of what it is he’s doing, and the fact that the vigilante’s approach needs to evolve if he wants to survive. Bruce, however, still hasn’t quite woken up to these facts yet, but it’s clearly coming. Getting assaulted by the police may not have led Bruce to reassess the situation, but if the “Bear Witness” speech doesn’t light the fire of self-awakening then I don’t know what will.
As I said earlier, the book does slow down a great deal in the middle but after some refreshing detective work we are thrown right back into some heart-pumping action that concludes the penultimate issue on an extraordinary high note. Unfortunately, readers will have to wait a couple of months to see what happens next since issue #28 will be a break from Zero Year and serve as a Batman Eternal preview of sorts.
When it comes to the artwork of Batman #27, I really don’t know what to say that hasn’t already been said. Last months’ issue marked the only time I’ve ever had real criticisms about Capullo’s artwork and all of those complaints were thrown out the window with this issue that pays homage to some beloved Dark Knight Returns imagery all while creating iconic images of its own. The vibrant colors by FCO continue to impress (I particularly liked the use of blue on Batman’s suit whenever he was caught in the light) and Miki’s inks even get a chance to shine as the story moves into darker territory where the shadows have a chance to play. Capullo and his team are creating one, if not the best looking Batman comic you can read.
Any further notes I have about this issue will be hidden in the spoiler tags below.
- How did the grenade in the Bat-boat blow up at that perfect moment? The police left a grenade in Batman’s boat and it didn’t explode until the exact moment that Loeb said his menacing line and Batman gazed upon the bomb. I would’ve been fine with a remote-detonated device or a grenade that had a string tied to the pin that was also tied to the door and it got plucked out when Batman opened a door, but that just didn’t happen
- I was pleased to see Batman refer to Alfred as “Cave” instead of “Penny-One”
- The moment when Gordon realized that he was about to crash into the docks was great and a nice way to end that scene
- We should start keeping a tally of which animal gets hurt more in Scott Snyder’s stories: dogs or horses?
- The Tokyo Moon helmet showed up again and that got me excited. I’m anxious to get some answers and see how that ties into everything else in this story. It was also referenced in the comic’s opening page
- It still bugs me that Capullo drew Jim Gordon looking exactly the same in the “20 Years Ago” flashbacks
- I loved the Riddler reveal. Now I just want to know what happened to that hurricane!
- I’m looking forward to the next issue giving some context to the Doctor Death/Riddler alliance. It seems sort of random for those two to team up at this point
- Shouldn’t Riddler be able to figure out that Bruce Wayne and Batman are one and the same now? If he was listening in on Batman’s radio conversation with Alfred, he would’ve heard him say the name “Alfred” (he forgot to say “Cave”) and knowing Riddler, he would take note of that and do some digging. Who can afford to be Batman and has close ties to someone named Alfred? Ding! Bruce Wayne
- Although I’m happy to see Riddler back in this, I’m definitely not a fan of him being portrayed with such murderous intentions. What happened to the riddles? What happened to the desire to prove how much better he is by using his wits? Wiping out the citizens of Gotham just doesn’t feel right to me
- Much like the time Lincoln March monologued while Batman somehow held onto the outside of a jet engine, here Riddler continues to mock Batman while everything explodes and Batman drowns.
Recommended If… Ah, screw it. You bought it already, didn’t you? Don’t lie to me!
- SpoilerJust admit that you bought it already! It’s fine.
Issue #27 will definitely get readers excited about the climax of “Dark City,” it’s just too bad that it’ll take 2 months for that finale to get here. Yes, this chapter gets too wordy and I have a few other nitpicks here and there regarding Gordon and a certain villain, but this was a really rich comic with jaw-dropping artwork, great action, and a number of noteworthy references to classic stories from Year One to The Dark Knight Returns.