Bloom goes on a murder spree, Bruce and Julie have a sexy shower scene, and Duke Thomas breaks into the Iceberg Lounge.  I’m guessing I have your attention now, so lets begin.  (It was the sexy shower scene that got you, right?)

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The issue opens with Bloom murdering every person in sight.  Then he suggests that everyone just stop freaking out so he can chat with them.  Really?  Are people really going to stop panicking long enough to think logically when faced with a situation like this?  Probably not.  Granted, he openly demonstrates that running from him is useless, but still, I can’t believe that total panic wouldn’t have consumed every single person in that room, sending them scattering to the four winds.  But let’s just accept that for now since everyone does decide to chill and listen to the crazy person.   I could almost see the logic in them going along with it until he starts randomly killing people again.  It seems to me that if he is going to kill you whether you are running or standing there compliantly, then you might as well take your chances and at least try to get away!

b46.4Yeah, I can’t really argue with that…

Bloom has a pretty long speech accompanying the cat and mouse game he plays with all the Gotham “fat cats”, but to be honest, I found it hard to concentrate on what he was saying.  Why?  Because I kept wondering where the hell Gordon was and why he was letting all these people get butchered.  Each time I flipped the page and didn’t see Gordon, the thought just got more and more consuming.  On a second read through, I was more able to appreciate Bloom’s sarcasm and his complete and utter condescension, but the first time out I was too distracted by the missing elephant in the room.

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Immediately after this, we are invited into the bathroom of Bruce and Julie.  Nothing like a little murder and mayhem to set the mood…  Granted, it’s not like THEY just witnessed a bunch of people dying, but I did.  I need a moment to down shift.  Something to cleanse the palate.  Once you’re past that awkward moment, the scene is actually very true to real life.  For those of you who aren’t married or in a relationship, this scene might seem strange, but I’m here to tell you that it’s really rather common.  In today’s hectic world, shared bathroom time really is where a lot of conversations take place.  “But Brandon, how can you concentrate on what you’re both saying when you’re standing around naked?”  Look, if you’re 17, I understand that someone bending over to pick up a napkin in a McDonalds gets you excited, but when you are older, you can easily compartmentalize that stuff.  To me, this felt like the most natural scene in the whole book, and it really went a long way to helping me believe in the relationship that these two characters share.  Now maybe I wouldn’t have asked someone to marry me while I was in the shower, but these two don’t necessarily have the most conventional relationship in the world anyway, so you just have to chalk that up to them being offbeat free spirits.

Now we come to my least favorite part of the book.  Duke breaks into the Iceberg Lounge.  It’s not the breaking in part that has me flummoxed.  But all the unnecessary dialogue, peculiar coincidences, and bizarre wildlife behavior that accompanied the scene that ruined it for me.  First he shows up on the Iceberg while having a causal chat with someone on his phone.  Really?!? (Second time having this reaction this issue.)  Is breaking into a facility guarded by guys with machine guns really the best time to have a phone chat?  Definitely not!  Granted, he does hang up when he sees the guards, but was he not expecting them to begin with?  Why would you go into a situation like that not being quiet from the onset?  Then he starts talking out loud to a bunch of birds!  Are you kidding me with this stuff?!?  The guards are right on the other side of that wall!  Is what he is saying to those birds really worth taking the chance that they might hear him and kill him.  If Snyder really felt the need to give us all that information Duke is spouting, couldn’t he have used a bit of internal monologue for the scene.

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Then Duke melts a hole in the roof, and “voila”, he is right in the Penguins office where he needs to be.  First, how did he know that was where he needed to put the hole, second, how did he know nobody would be in there at that exact moment?  Not only is all of this convenient beyond belief, but then he finds the super secret documents he was looking for on the very first try.  Duke must have some kind of unknown “luck power” that hasn’t been revealed yet.  Eventually things do turn bad, and Duke activates a speaker that blasts death metal outside, which in turn riles the birds.  Now I’m now bird expert, but whenever I’ve seen a flock of birds get spooked by a loud sudden noise, they scatter off into the sky.  They do not fly into a confined space towards a bunch of people they would usually flee from.

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Greg Capullo handles art as always, but when you have written dozens of reviews for the same artist, it becomes necessary to start highlighting specific things, instead of covering the artist abilities in general terms.  After all, how many times can you hear me say Greg Capullo is awesome before it becomes meaningless.  This review, I chose to focus on his work on Bloom.  In an interview, I read that a few eyebrows were raised at DC when Snyder said that the new villain would have a flower on his face.  Fair enough.  I mean, what is so threatening about a guy with a flower on his face.  I basically assumed that the flower design was an image on the outside of the mask.  But here we can see that Capullo illustrates it in such a way that it looks alive.  It’s not a print, but organic.  It’s his actual face coming through the mask.  Who would have thought that a flower could look so revolting and scary.  Leave it to Capullo to take something innocent and mundane and turn it into something that haunts your very dreams and turns them into nightmares.

At times, I’ve been hyper critical of the JimBat story line.  But I finally decided to forgo any personal problems I had with the overall direction this title was taking and instead focus on any real problems I could concretely focus on in the writing choices themselves.  On my first read through, except for a few stand out problems, I actually quite enjoyed myself.  There was plenty of action and adventure.  On the surface, it looked like a really good comic.  But then I delved deeper.  On each consecutive read, I found more and more problems.  And they didn’t stem from my preferences, but actual logical inconsistencies within the story itself.  The biggest problem I found was Snyder’s need to force the story in directions that didn’t seem natural just because he had some cool idea he wanted to convey instead of allowing it to develop organically.  At times, it seems like he comes up with certain scenes without ever knowing precisely where he intends to use them.  Instead, when the time seems right, he finds a way to integrate them even if it doesn’t gel so well with what is currently being presented.  When I look at the opening scene for instance, I wonder why Gordon didn’t intercede faster.  You could say it’s because he had to get his gun and formulate a plan with Julia.  While that is feasible, I can’t help but shake the feeling that the real reason Gordon didn’t interrupt sooner is because Snyder needed more time for Bloom to finish delivering his monologue.  When elements in the story, remind me that I am reading a story, I’m not too happy a customer.  I want an immersive experience in which I can get lost.  Not something that says look at how cool this is, or go and ponder this idea for awhile.  Quit trying to be cool and just be.  If it’s genuinely cool, it will read that way whether you try or not.

b46.8Would you please take that candy cigarette out of your mouth.  You look like a damned fool.

Spoiler

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  • Ok.  So I know that there are some things going on in this picture that might make it more difficult for some of you to concentrate, but let’s focus for a minute.  Julie has an Owl tattoo on her left thigh!  And that tattoo on her shoulder blades hidden by her hair might be one too!  So…  Is it there just to mess with us, or was this supposed to be a subtle hint that she is a member of the Court?  A while back, someone suggested that Julie might be bad, and I was like, “no way!”  But after seeing this, Snyder has me wondering.  But a the end of the day, that might be all that it is.  Put there to make us wonder and keep us on our toes.  What do you guys think?

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  • So, this is interesting.  It’s the first panel of the issue.  It’s obviously Alfred destroying the memory transfer machine that Bruce built in the Batcave,  but at no other point in this story do we check in with Alfred to continue this narrative.  It seems like a strange thing to slip in and not go back to.  Is there a connection I am missing?  Any thoughts?

Interesting Facts:

b46.6Look kids, it’s Arnold Wesker!

  • The Ventriloquist made his first appearance in Detective Comics #583 (1988).  Wesker suffered from multiple personality disorder.  His evil half could only manifest through the use of a ventriloquist’s wooden dummy.  In the New52, the only sighting of the Ventriloquist was in the pages of Batgirl, but it wasn’t Wesker at all.  Instead, we were introduced to some girl named Shauna Belzer who had telekinetic powers she used to manipulate her dummy.  While this appearance of Wesker is nothing more than a cameo, it was still awesome to see him again, and hopefully someone in the future decides to pick up the reins now that Snyder brought him into continuity.

Recommended if…

  • You like action-packed comics full of thrills and adventure.
  • You wanna see Bloom go on a real killing spree!
  • You enjoy your villains with a side of condescension.
  • Greg Capullo’s excellence is always enough reason to buy an issue for you.
  • You want to see the scene that finally made me buy into the Bruce and Julie relationship.
  • Seeing Duke lucking his way through another adventure seems perfectly plausible to you.

Overall:

On the surface, this seems like a pretty good comic.  It has plenty of intense action sequences, an engaging villain full of mystery, and great character building scenes.  But when you look more closely, you start to see the weeds growing out of every little crack in its not so perfect exterior.  The plot is full of easy conveniences and senseless choices which often fly in the face of logic.  These aspects bring an unnatural/forced element to the page.  While I’m not a card carrying member of the Scott Snyder fan club, I do appreciate what he brings to the table.  His skill is almost a handicap at this point, because every issue is expected to wow us.  At the end of the day, there was nothing major that brought this story down, merely an accumulation of small missteps that stood in the way of it reaching its full potential.

SCORE: 6.5 / 10