The Riddler has set up his maze, dropped in the mice, and now is just watching as they scurry about trying to get that cheese. While the underlying plot that the Riddler was trying to have unfold was unnecessarily complicated, the physical action set pieces that occurred were quite entertaining.  There is an abundant amount of action in this issue and going into it would give too much away and  I have no desire to spoil it for you.  Hopefully it is sufficient enough for me to say that it was cinematic and intense.  I will say that the inclusion of all that tech talk could have been toned down just a notch.

There was a part of this story that left me feeling deflated.  There is no way to go into it without revealing something major but I will liken it to something else.  It would be like if your favorite TV show had an episode that turned out to be a dream.  While you may have enjoyed it as it was unfolding, as soon as you find out that the characters were doing stuff that didn’t matter it made it seem less important.  Like I said, this didn’t happen, but that is the same feeling I got halfway through the story.  I want to think this is a bad thing cause it made me feel bad, but at the same time it was also a success because it made me empathize with what the characters were going through.  I’m genuinely torn.

One of the nice things about Snyder’s Batman is just how human he really is, especially at this point in his career.  He makes mistakes and moves on from them.  You get the sense that he is learning to become the man we all know that he will be.  It is nice to see Snyder showing that even though he fails he keeps on trying and never gives up.  For whatever reason, it seems people are drawn to fallible characters, perhaps it is what helps us to see ourselves in them.  There is a moment towards the end where, even though you as the reader know Batman will eventually win, he himself doubts that he will.  It is a very touching moment and you can feel his apprehension at the situation.

On the other spectrum of this is the Riddler who thinks he is perfect.  I just love how arrogant and smug the Riddler is.  He always thinks he is the smartest person in the room and that everyone else is beneath him.  Last issue he got insulted and he totally didn’t let it drop, bringing it back up again here.  He is one of those people who, if you interrupt him, will find a way to get the conversation going back to him.  While we hate the Riddler for his smugness, it is hard not to enjoy his intelligent wit and metaphorical humor.  Being a know-it-all, he also goes on and on about how if he had done something he would have done it this way, and that would have been the correct way, and none other.  I really want to smack him!

The Artwork by Greg Capullo is a delight as always.  There were several spots where he could have easily chosen to cut corners but instead put details in where he didn’t have to.  In a scene with Fox where your focus is entirely upon the inside of a van, detailed elements in the distance can be seen through the window.  Cracked glass and broken mortar abound in the deplorable state that Gotham is in and never does Capullo shy away from detailing every ding and dent.  One of the things that I found unique was the use of a colored band around the dialogue balloons.  There was a section where three characters were talking over walkies to each other and only one was in a panel at a time, so without it  you would not have been able to tell who was saying what from the other two.  It is common for thought boxes to be shaded colors but not dialogue balloons.

The cover was a nice nod to the 40’s and 50’s where somehow super villains always got their hands on over sized props.  Another scene with a drone had a beautiful layout where we are looking up at a drone firing its gun and there is a rain of shell casings pouring down on us.  Another nice spot was the inter cutting of Batman  and the fighter jets being prepared. It had a real cinematic quality to it.  The end scenes with the darkness and shadows is a perfect example of showing ones talents by giving us just what we need, and knowing what not to draw.  It really draws our focus on what is most important for us to be getting out of that scene.  Occasionally, I noticed some fading in the black areas but that most likely has more to do with the printing process than the actual art.

I have a small problem with the price/page count ratio of this issue.  I remember there was a time when DC said they were, “Drawing the line at 2.99.”  Now Batman being 3.99 is nothing new but usually we get 22 pages.  This issue has 19.  I’m not counting the title page because usually you get something storywise on it like a picture or dialogue or something.  Here we have what looks like the frosted glass of an office door with the word ARK.  The other 2 pages are lost to the Grayson preview.  While I was entertained by the Grayson preview the fact that I had to pay for an advertisement for DC to encourage me to get their new title was not cool.  I paid 3.99 for 22 pages of Batman.  And I didn’t get it.  The story wasn’t hurt by this, it is just the principal of the matter.

Spoiler

  • What had me deflated was the fact that everything they had done was meaningless.  You thought they were gaining on the Riddler and it turns out they weren’t even close.
  • Riddler sure has been busy building robots.  I don’t recall robotics ever being a tenant of the character.
  • nice to see those seals finally doing something, even if it is what the Riddler wants.
  • can anyone tell me what that very first page is about? Seriously, please comment below.
  • Batman looks awesome hanging to the underside of that elevator.  Try imagining how hard that would actually be to do.
  • the part where Batman and Lucius are trying to decipher the code.  It’s funny to read it as if Batman already figured it out and is just messing with Lucius.  Come on Lucius, what does it say?
  • Why does Riddler need the missiles to set off his explosives?  Why can’t he detonate them himself?  What would have happened if the Seal guys never showed up?  What was his plan then?
  • I totally saw the Riddler clapping all slow and sarcastic like.
  • The Riddler is lucky Batman didn’t just beat him into submission right then and there to get him to turn it off.
  • And the Riddler’s game begins with a laser light show…..

Interesting Facts:  (Glad I didn’t call this section fun facts.  Batman Hates fun facts.)

  • As we all know the 3 chapters of Zero Year have their own titles.  Secret City, Dark City, and Savage City.  But did you know that there is another Riddler story out there called Dark City?  To be fair, it is called Dark Knight Dark City but it was the first thing that sprang to my mind when I heard about Dark City.  Dark Knight Dark City takes place in Batman #452-454 from 1990.  It does deal with the supernatural, which is usually not something that I like to see in a Batman story, but it was just so well written and clever that I gave it a pass.  It also might be worth a look if you enjoyed Morrison’s RIP.  It is my understanding that Dark Knight Dark City was part of his inspiration.

Recommended if…

  • you want to see some intense action sequences.
  • you can’t get enough of the Riddler.
  • you have been following this since the beginning and there is no way your backing out now.

Overall:

It totally delivered an entertaining roller coaster of a ride but at the same time something I can’t put my finger on was missing.

SCORE: 7.5/10