Scott Snyder's "Batman" is a very good comic. It meets the requirements of being a great superhero comic, a great crime comic, a great action comic. Without labeling too hard, we can all settle on agreeing that it is a very good comic in all respects. The plotting and pacing of this issue are tightly delivered in a deliberate and extremely smart way. Snyder uses all his skills to best service the 20 page issue and make it all count. This issue's greatest strength is that it services the overall plot while also being something anyone could enjoy on its own. More comics need to be just like this.
Snyder has spoken openly about Gotham City being a character in this arc. He discusses the architecture and history here like this is a travel guide. If you care at all for the setting then you'll enjoy every little slice of information Snyder drops. It can be hard fabricating, and building upon, the history of a fictional city that has held such a globally recognizable character for decades and yet Snyder makes it feel like simple characterization. These moments build scene as well as dread. There are layers at play within Gotham.
The detective is back as Batman uses new tools in his forensic arsenal to aid in investigating the murder of a John Doe. This doesn't feel like the sort of story Batman is going to punch his way through and Snyder is too smart a writer not to put enough twists in to test the brain of the Dark Knight as well as the brawn. This book should appeal to fans of all sides of the Batman.
That's not to say we don't get some brutal action scenes as well. The final action piece of the issue is by far the best part as Snyder lays down a few cards in regards to the villain of the tale. The inherent evil of Gotham has finally glanced down at Bruce Wayne and it appears the efforts to take him out of action are similar to how we would swat a bug. There isn't posturing fanfare or overblown spectacle. There is only the precise business and this assassin is cooler than the other side of the pillow.
Greg Capullo's art is brilliant when it is both selling the scope and the action of a moment in the one wide shot. The establishing moments and the pull backs from the action are superb panels that show both the intricacy and fluidity of Capullo's skill. The use of negative space is also wonderful on the few occasions it's employed. The only fault in the art is some of the wasted close ups. The pace of the scene is sometimes thrown off by the cluttered pages that take an extra second to decipher. However, there is no doubting Capullo knows how to draw the action scenes with sublime choreography.
"Batman" is one of the few comics in the DC relaunch where the second issue is better than the debut. Bruce Wayne has upped his game, but the world around him has also altered its stance. He is sure he'll be fine and yet it is that mindset that may cost him most of all. This issue drops an absolutely fantastic final page that is only made better when you turn it to find there's actually still one more page to go. And that page is just as phenomenal. There's a satisfying round journey presented in this issue and yet it also hints at things to come. This is the sort of issue you could drop into anyone's hand, no matter their level of knowledge or involvement, and make them a fan for life.
Don't miss our preview of "Batman" #2.