As today neared, I began to mentally prepare myself for the climax of SuperHeavy. Multiple factors were converging to make this one of the most hyped and anticipated issues in recent memory. Not only was this the finale to the 10 month long story arc that had been going on since last June. Not only was this a double sized semi-centennial issue. Not only was this Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s second to last issue on their 4 and a half year stint on Batman. This was the return to the real Batman into action once again. Let’s be honest, the odds were seriously stacked against Snyder and Capullo and I don’t think there was anything they could have done that was going to live up to all the expectations that had been mounting. Nevertheless, they gave it their all, and while nowhere near as meaningful as I would have liked, I think it can easily stand toe to toe with any tent-pole summer blockbuster out there. (Granted, that can either be viewed as a compliment or a criticism, depending on your perspective. But that’s the point.)
As I said, I mentally prepared for today, but I also put aside plenty of time to give this issue/review the attention it deserved. However, after reading the story, I realized that there wasn’t as much to talk about as I assumed there would be. Don’t get me wrong. Plenty of stuff happens in this 48 page extravaganza, but for the most part, it’s seriously action heavy with only a small side of reflection to keep our minds busy. I could talk at length about every little cool moment this story delivers (and there are a plethora to choose from), but is that really what you all came here for? “Look at that back-flip….look at that take-down…haha Batman made a joke about dying.” Sure, action and humor is great in doses, but it really shouldn’t make up the backbone of your experience. Without genuine substance and meaning, it’s all just flashy fanfare. So let’s take a look at the thematic nature of the story.
Super heroes can’t fix everything for us. They are there to fight the fights we can’t possibly win and give us hope. But they can’t fix real things….real problems. It takes more than a single individual to generate real change. It takes all of us doing the right thing to make a difference. It’s a seriously great message, but it’s kind of lost in the rigmarole of Jim saving the city from complete and utter annihilation.
The next question on some people’s minds might be: Do we get a background story on Bloom? No. We do learn the story behind the seeds, but we never actually find out who Bloom is or why he is doing this. And you know what? That is actually one of the few story elements that I am surprisingly ok with. In the end, it really doesn’t matter. He is a villain, and his genesis is not more important than his current actions.
But I can’t quietly sit by and not remark on obvious shortcomings. And there are a lot…. so, now comes the part that I honestly hate having to do….tear this thing apart for all its flaws and superficiality. Seriously. I wish it were flawless. I’d like nothing better. But it’s not. And all those shortcomings really ruined it for me.
Bloom has a transmitter in him that is drawing power from all the seeds that are implanted within the citizens of Gotham. He is then sending this power towards the collider which will overload it, causing a super nova that will take all of Gotham with it. In order to win, the heroes have to disable Bloom’s transmitter, disable the transmitters in Gotham’s citizens, and then diffuse the black star with some kind of amplified dampener.
As things unfold, Batman feels kind of useless in his own book. He does end up saving Jim and Duke, who end up being the real heroes of the story, so without Batman’s assistance the day would admittedly not have been won. But it’s still annoying how tertiary he is in his own book. I’ll admit that this totally falls in line with the message that is trying to be conveyed, that we are ultimately responsible for ourselves. I might not have liked seeing Batman play second fiddle, but this was Jim’s story, so it was nice to see him carry it out. While I get what they were going for, I read super hero comics as an escape from reality. I do want to see Batman save the day. When one considers that so much of this story falls in line with the stereotypical summer blockbuster, I was surprised to see that this is where they choose to draw the line and shake things up.
Aside from saving Jim and Duke, Batman’s main purpose in the story is to confront Bloom and disable his transmitter. The whole thing makes little to no sense. Batman ends up requisitioning one of Geri Power’s Bat-suits in order to take on Bloom. Just prior to this, we see Bloom attacked by GCPD members wearing those same suits, and Bloom takes complete control of them. Hence, it makes no sense as to why Bloom allowed Batman to fight with him when he could have just overridden his controls. It also turns out that disabling Blooms transmitter seed was a useless venture, making Batman’s involvement in the climax redundant.
Go Go Power Rangers!
Perhaps some of you were enthralled by the fight itself and its irrelevancy was unimportant to you. I can see how this could be the case. It’s exciting…things get destroyed…mass hysteria! For me however, it was a sad attempt at trying to heighten the stakes and got away from what being a Batman comic should be. I know I’ve said this a lot in the last year or so, about it not being Batman, but now to have the real Batman back and it’s still not a Batman comic in nature is infuriating. This was Voltron vs Robeasts. Ultraman vs Kaiju. Even Power rangers vs whatever their monsters were called. I’m sorry. I’m sure some of you are tired of hearing me say it but….This was not Batman! It’s just ridiculous!
Next, we have to deal with how to get all the seeds out of the Gothamites. This one is even more preposterous. Everyone is rioting in the streets of Gotham like madmen. Some are fighting for their very lives against other seed induced psychopaths. And yet, when they see the real Batman, they are inspired to tear the seeds out of their very flesh! Why would they do this?!?!? How do they know that this is going to help the situation? And what are the odds that the person you’re fighting with is going to have the exact same thought at the exact same moment that you did? You’re not going to tear the thing out of your arm that is protecting you from being killed by the crazy person across from you. You don’t just go from blood lust mode to self mutilation in the blink of an eye just because Batman swung by. It’s just not logical. And what about all the seeds that fell into the hands of actual bad people. Reading this, I felt like I was in the grips of insanity myself.
I just have to mention another crowd scene incident that, while admittedly nitpicky, is just too silly not to comment on. During the riots, while Batman is fighting in the background against Bloom (in a mech suit mind you) someone acts like they realize that the real Batman is piloting the suit…. What?!? How?!?! That doesn’t make any sense. How did this random guy come to the conclusion that this particular mech suit was being driven by the real Batman? There are mech suits running around all over the place right now with batsignals on them. How does he know it’s not just another cop? Like I said, it’s a small insignificant detail, but there are actually quite a lot of illogical things like this in the story. Add enough of them up, and it simply compounds the headache inducing lunacy that this story is pervading.
Now let’s examine Gordon’s role. His job in the master plan is to find something to neutralize the impending explosion. And it’s the biggest deus ex machina ever! Even though that is already super groan worthy, it gets even worse. Batman lets Gordon figure it out on his own instead of handling the biggest threat himself. Really? Gordon is just a cop. He wasn’t trained in all this science stuff like Batman was. What is Gordon supposed to do? Granted, he stumbles upon the answer because it was written in the story, but how was he really supposed to deal with that. It’s like asking a toddler to fly a helicopter. Yeah. In perspective, that’s how silly Batman’s request really was.
I think one of the most confusing things for me was when I read the epilogue, and it was soooo good. I was like, “Wow…who did this section!” When I went and checked the credits…Umm…the art and colors are by a different team, but it’s still Snyder on writing credits??????? It’s immensely frustrating to see how good he can be when he wants to and how completely out of control he can be at other times.
One of the other things I found interesting, were the few self deprecating comments Snyder let sneak into the story. Admittedly, these lines make perfect sense in the context of the story, but you can also see how they could be viewed as an apology of sorts to the fan base. If it is a hidden message to the fans, I simultaneously appreciate the acknowledgement that it was a ridiculous story line, but also don’t respect the fact that Snyder isn’t standing more steadfastly behind his work.
Much like the previous clipping of dialogue, this also seems like something a colleague might have uttered to Snyder to get him pumped up to deliver his grand finale. Oh, how I wish that the Batman we deserve had actually been within these pages….
Oh wait…there you are. For one panel at least.
Art, as usual, is handled by Greg Capullo. I know that earlier I said enjoyment shouldn’t be exclusively garnered from meaningless cool moments, but since that is all we are really given, I’m going to bask in the glory of this particular shot. Batman on the Batsignal is just too good not to geek-out over. Hands down, it’s my favorite image from the entire comic.
While I’m all for praising Capullo, there are some design choices that had me scratching my head as to why they were even necessary. Yep. Batman has a new suit. It’s kind of weird, because as he walks through the armory in the batcave, he passes up several perfectly acceptable suits from the bat-history in order to choose this new one. Other than comic aesthetics, what was the purpose? I really can’t fathom one. I kind of like the idea behind it though. Adding back in the traditional yellow while also paying tribute to the original 1939 purple gloves in the subtle color choice of the inner cape was a nice tip of the hat to several previous designs while simultaneously introducing something new. But still…Why? (The inner cape being purple was also a Batgirl thing at the start of the New52)
I also though the cowl without a nose bridge was super weird looking….but maybe that’s just me.
- The jump suit that Duke dons reminds me of Bruce Lee’s outfit from Game of Death. Or The Bride’s outfit in Kill Bill, if you are more familiar with that.
- You want the humor and action associated with a huge summer blockbuster…unfortunately the same level of quality and common sense comes along with it.
- You like the idea of Jim still being the hero even though Batman is back.
- You like the kind of combat and mass destruction prevalent in Godzilla films.
Bigger isn’t always better. Snyder’s SuperHeavy finale is so nonsensical it will have you questioning your own sanity at times. While I have not been a fan of the current arc, I have never dismissed Snyder’s skill as a writer, but this time he let me down. Gone is the level of quality that I could at least count on to hold my interest when the content was lacking. While there is meaning to be found, it’s hidden well beneath the piles of rubble that strewn the Gotham landscape. It’s a sad day to be a Batman fan. At least for this one.
SCORE: 3.5 / 10