Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Batman #3 [The New 52] - DC Comics

BATMAN No. 3, January 2012
Despite an arguably alarming drop of 21,000 copies in sales, Issue Three of “Batman” was still the second best-selling comic book of November 2011 and also managed, in many ways, to depict a Dark Knight far closer to the ‘master sleuth’ portrayed in the character’s first ever story, “The Case Of The Chemical Syndicate”, than the more action-orientated incarnation seen during this current Modern Age of Comic Books.

But that does not mean for a moment that “The Thirteenth Hour” is by any means a disappointing or unengaging read. For Scott Snyder has written a steady pacey detective story, which allows Bruce Wayne to demonstrate not only his keen analytical mind. But also his knowledge and understanding of his family’s great history, and how it helped build, shape and influence Gotham City.

However before the billionaire illustrates why he is also commonly known as ‘The World’s Greatest Detective’, the American author gets this magazine off to an exhilarating start by having the caped crusader battle “a Gotham branch of the Ukrainian mob”, armed with machetes and knives, deep down on a functioning underground train line. At first such a heavily outnumbered confrontation actually looks decidedly dodgy for the costumed crime-fighter. Especially as the fight spills out into the path of an oncoming commuter train, and Batman is clearly failing to dodge all of the iron mask wearing fanatics’ bladed attacks. Fortunately a slightly bloodied super-hero manages to cut the fight short by magnetising the train with a handy though miniscule ‘bat-device’, causing his assailants to be whisked away by the speeding engine.

What then follows is plain old-fashioned clue-finding, as the masked vigilante, having studied the nesting methods of the nocturnal owl, searches building after building looking for the criminal Court's numerous secret lairs. A pursuit he is remarkably successful with… that is until the comic ends with the Dark Knight inadvertently triggering a trip-wire and blowing up the entire thirteenth floor within which he was exploring.

With such a predominantly sedentary script a good deal of this issue’s storytelling success rests upon the shoulders of regular artist Greg Capullo, and the former “X-Force” illustrator does not disappoint. His page composition towards the climax of the comic, as Batman explores each ‘hidden hideout’, is especially impressive as the American pencils a foreboding series of rooms all containing a variety of owl-related memorabilia and weaponry… with each panel interspersed with ominous owl-shaped eyes. An excellent touch which eventually leads to the realisation that the detective is being watched and maybe the hunter is actually the hunted.
The variant cover art of "BATMAN" No. 3 by Ivan Reis and Joe Prado

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