|BATMAN No. 4, February 2012|
Ever since Batman’s origin was first presented in Issue Thirty Three of “Detective Comics” Bruce Wayne has always been haunted by the murderous double deed of small-time criminal Joe Chill. For without the mugger’s cold-blooded shooting of Doctor Thomas Wayne and his wife Martha in front of their eight year-old son, there would be no need for the orphan to subsequently dedicate his life to fighting crime and thus create the persona of the Dark Knight. Over time however the character of the gunman within the “DC Comics” universe has continued to slowly develop with the petty robber first evolving into a hitman working for the Mafia, and then becoming one of two sons belonging to the housemaid of Bruce’s guardian, his Uncle Philip Wayne.
“Face The Court” puts another slight spin on the ‘Joe Chill’ story, as Scott Snyder portrays a grieving child unwilling to accept that his parents’ deaths were the result of a random act and “that some plain old… no-name” had killed them “over nothing but pocket change and pearls.” Instead the boy, desperately needing to believe that “there had to be something bigger at work”, starts to earnestly investigate the possibility that his Mother and Father were slain on the orders of the Court of Owls.
Substituting his later famed powers of deduction and intuition with youthful exuberance and weeks of book work, a foolhardy young Bruce finally believes he's found the Court of Owls and the men behind his parents’ demise. Only to discover “an old, empty room that hadn’t been used in years.” From this inauspicious beginning and the lesson learnt ‘The World’s Greatest Detective’ would be born. But for any reader of this particular issue of “Batman” it provides a slightly slow and disappointingly diverting backwards look into the past of the Caped Crusader, at a time when the current multi-issue story-arc was very much gaining momentum.
Admittedly the New Yorker both begins and ends this twenty-page instalment by penning a pulse-pounding action-packed event; be that Batman’s hairbreadth escape from an exploding building or later his falling victim to an ambushing Talon. But the vast majority of this comic book is rather bogged down in the somewhat superficial historical tale of an eight year-old boy chasing ghosts and shadows.
Greg Capullo’s pencils are marvellous throughout, whether it be depicting a grim-faced, no-nonsense cowled action hero, throwing himself out of a high-rise window, or a shadowy sleuth stalking the sewers of Gotham City spotting clues. In addition the very noticeable change in his artwork for the multi-paged flashback sequence is extremely well done. As the simpler style really helps give the entire scene the feeling that it is being ‘played out’ through the eyes of a child, during a time when life can appear far more ‘black and white’ than it really is.
|The variant cover art of "BATMAN" No. 4 by Michael Choi|