The Dark Knight returns to take on Mr. Bloom! With Gordon and Gotham against the wall, Bruce’s blank mind is jogged by a robin and a choo-choo, and the city that never gives back gives back Batman, reborn (not to be confused with that other time Bruce died and came back).
Bloom collects Batman #46-48 and #50, written by Scott Snyder, with pencils by Greg Capullo, inks by Danny Miki, colors by FCO Plascencia, and letters by Steve Wands. #50 features an epilogue with art by Yanick Paquette and colors by Nathan Fairbairn, who also fill the same roles on Batman #49, which is included, as well.
For detailed analysis of each issue, check out the original Batman News reviews:
I wasn’t happy when Bruce Wayne met his end at the end of Endgame. I think a lot of folks felt the same. Many felt like Bruce dying, or having his back broken, or dying, or whatever, had been done enough, and fairly recently. For me, I had only been reading comics for about two years at the time, and I wasn’t ready to have (almost) the entire DC line feature a Batman like the one we got last volume. Regardless of the specific root of dissatisfaction, a significant chunk of readers weren’t happy with having Batman replaced with Chappie.
So here comes the final volume, Bloom, and the promise of Bruce coming back and taking up the mantle again, and what is meant by Snyder to be an “aw yeah!” moment instead begs the question: “why did you do this in the first place?” While parts of Bruce’s return are moving and worth considering, I can’t help thinking it’s just like a tax refund—giving something up for a year and getting it back with no interest.
Still, like the refund, the payoff is exciting. Bruce demanding Alfred take him to the cave, or rising, fully aware, to take on Bloom, is a certain thrill. Alfred’s grief is moving, even if it appears to retreat a bit too easily once Bruce returns to the battlefield. The Snyder-staple citywide catastrophe is old, but comfortable; and its swan song is a tight, blockbuster Capullo spectacle that—at least somewhat—makes up for the messy finale of Endgame.
Too many conveniences
If Endgame was a bit messy and incomplete, then Bloom is too neat and figured out, and at times for the benefit of plotlines that need not be included. For example:
The Joker is back. Again. Just like Bruce, he’s lost himself. Presumably, just like Bruce, he’ll find himself again. But the two of them meet while they’re still not themselves, and the conversation is filled with verbal bait from the Joker. Several times, he says something that we—and Bruce—take one way, and then quickly reveals that he was talking about something else. But what he said doesn’t lend itself to an innocuous interpretation. And anyway, why did Joker even need to be here? He’s just an enormous distraction.
It is revealed that Bruce’s flame, Julie Madison, has a father in the prison system. Why? Because he was a gun runner. But not just any gun runner—no, he’s probably the one who sold the gun to Joe Chill, the guy who gunned down Bruce’s parents.
There are plenty of other conveniences sprinkled throughout, some small and some large. I’m okay with some comic book coincidence from time to time, but not when it’s the only thing keeping everything from falling apart (Martha, anyone?).
Bloom isn’t free of mess, either. Back in Superheavy, Alfred and Clark agreed that Bruce’s brain was completely changed, and that the Batman stuff was completely gone. So how does Bruce have echoes of his true identity that would spur him to start thinking about who he really is? Shouldn’t every shred be gone? Maybe the Rebirth plans were in the works, and Snyder had to deliver Bruce’s return sooner than planned, but it all ends up feeling either too easy or too ridiculous, and it’s tough to keep suspending disbelief.
The variant cover gallery in Bloom is enormous, primarily because it has approximately six bazillion connecting Batman v Superman variants from Batman #50 and Superman #50. Some of them are actually decent! There’s also a fantastic Alex Ross take on a fantastic Alex Ross classic from the Harley’s Little Black Book theme month.
Also included is the Snyder/Sean Murphy contribution to Detective Comics #27, as it has some ties to how this volume wraps up.
On another note, I was delighted to see that DC left the credits in for each issue, so we get to see the credits pages as they appeared in the original issues. I think this is a great move—the letters are part of the artwork, as well, and it’s nice to see them treated that way.
Value: Sale Price
If you don’t have the original issues, this is a volume worth owning. And since you get five issues (originally priced at $3.99, and one priced at $4.99), plus a sizable chunk of extras, the $13 Amazon’s asking for a paperback is not bad, especially if you’re trying to complete your set. Nevertheless, it is probably the weakest volume in New 52 Batman, so saving some bucks and grabbing it used is probably the best way to go.
This is it—other than the strangely-absent Batman #51 (which will probably be an exclusive in some future omnibus), this is the end of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s run on Batman. Sadly, their final arc is an arbitrary crisis, and this final volume is a contrived salvation. Still, there are strong moments, and Bruce’s return and fresh sacrifice are worth repeat visits. Bloom may not be the best that this super-team has offered, but it is still a cut above the rest.