|BATMAN No. 22, September 2013|
Writer Scott Snyder was undoubtedly correct when he described his “secret history of Bruce Wayne’s transformation into Batman” as being something new, “different” and “unexpected”. For in his desperation to try and avoid a simple retelling of Frank Miller’s 1987 stellar origin story “Batman: Year One”, the New Yorker has created the most arrogant, petty and dislikeable incarnation of the Billionaire arguably to see print.
Whether physically taking his frustrations out on his noble butler, Alfred, when his latest attempt to entrap the mysterious Red Hood goes awry or petulantly storming away from a surprise “Welcome Home Bruce” celebration organised by his Uncle Philip, the youthful budding crimefighter demonstrates none of the Dark Knight’s famous strengths and admirable qualities… But instead seems to simply be a self-centred, bullish, arrogant oaf who seemingly believes that everyone else, including Pennyworth, is wrong whilst he is irrefutably right.
As a result there is very little to the vigilante’s plight in “Secret City: Part Two” which generates any sort of sympathy in the reader, even when his uncle’s advisor, Edward Nygma, reveals to him that his father’s brother is actually supplying killers and terrorists with Wayne Technology-based weapons and a guilt-ridden Bruce phones his trusty elderly manservant saying “Please pick up. I was wrong, Alfred”.
Yet despite this apathy towards the contemptible titular character and his inadequate amateurish attempts to bring down the bad guy, Issue Twenty Two of “Batman” still somehow managed to be the second biggest-selling comic book of July 2013, shifting a whopping 132,047 copies. Though much of this success is almost certainly due to the wonderfully zany yet sinisterly serious machinations of the narrative’s central villain, the charmingly evil Red Hood. Indeed so disagreeable and obnoxious is Wayne’s behaviour within this instalment’s twenty-three pages that it is hard not to actually start rooting for the criminal mastermind, especially when he matter-of-factly kills one of his own men in order to humorously create “an opening right now” for “our little vigilante”.
Far more entertaining is Snyder’s short story “The One Time”, co-written with regular collaborator James Tynion IV. This brief tale, quite delightfully drawn by Rafael Albuquerque, shows a haughty and overconfident twenty-one year-old Bruce Wayne being taught a stern lesson in his over-reliance upon technology.