Saturday, 17 October 2015

Batman #25 [The New 52] - DC Comics

BATMAN No. 25, January 2014
Whilst undoubtedly “reshaping the history of the Dark Knight, his allies, his enemies and his city”, Issue Twenty Five of “Batman” is arguably not as “astounding” a read as “DC Comics” advertised at its time of printing. Indeed, despite the overly expensive $4.99 priced book somehow being the best-selling title of November 2013, Scott Snyder’s narrative depicting a yobbish-looking Bruce Wayne doing little but talk to Alfred Pennyworth and later Jim Gordon, proves as enthralling an experience as the magazine’s dull all-black embossed cover…

Admittedly the creepy machinations of Doctor Death and his sinister “bone juice”, which causes “every bone in your body” to break and start “growing and twisting until you die”, is rather well-written, if not rather downright disturbing. But even this sinisterly unnerving storyline is then ruined by the New Yorker abruptly turning the character of Lucius Fox, the billionaire’s loyal business manager, into a psychotic servant of the mad scientist.

It’s also clear from “Zero Year: Dark City” that the American author is determined to depict a thoroughly hateful, and as a result disconcerting, relationship between the young industrialist and Jim Gordon. In fact Snyder actually has the thuggish close-cropped orphan cause the politely-spoken policeman to be facially injured by a flock of bats he manufactured to fly at the head of the curious detective; “You should get that looked at, Lieutenant Gordon… Now I’m sure you have better places to be. I know I do.”

Greg Capullo’s artwork is not an entirely agreeable facet to this particular twenty-four page publication either, with the Schenectady-born illustrator’s reimaging of the Batmobile into some horrific-looking “Hot Wheels” roadster, complete with golden radiator covers and gilded bat bonnet emblem, simply being one of the worst designed vehicles the Caped Crusader has ever had the misfortune to acquire. The fact the car can supposedly ‘transform’ itself in order to defy gravity and drive along ceilings makes the automobile appear even more ludicrous a contrivance and ruins an otherwise interesting stand-off between Gotham City’s finest and the masked vigilante.

Fortunately this comic does contain one saving grace courtesy of a short night-time tale concerning Cullen and Harper Row as two children terrified during a citywide black out. Co-written by James Tynion IV and immaculately drawn by Andy Clarke, this ‘minisode’ provides an early example of the siblings’ unhappy rapport with their father and Bluebird’s impressive understanding of electrics.
The variant cover art of "BATMAN" No. 25 by Alex Garner


  1. Interesting thoughts.

    I have been reading 'Batman' through collected editions since I wanted to find out more about the Court of Owls, and Zero Year was a nadir for me. As a story arc I found it less than engaging, and the brattish and undisciplined depiction of Bruce Wayne (and his alter ego) did not sit easily with me either.

    Unfortunately Snyder seems obsessed with retro-fitting so much back-story to the Batman mythos that what was once a very clear and simple high concept is getting muddled with layer upon layer of needless reinvention. Even the Court of Owls idea which I like a lot has itself been victim to this at the hands of another writer.

    In each instance, I feel Snyder is stretching what was in principle a very simple mythos through his desire to fill the back-story further, and for me ultimately that has proven a law of diminishing returns culminating in the regrettable (for this reader) Endgame.

    1. Many thanks PulpCitizen. I too thoroughly enjoyed Court of Owls up until the final couple of issues. But since then have found this title a bit of a slog to get through. I'm certainly not enjoying it as much as I used to many moons ago and tbh would probably have dropped this comic from my Pull List many moons ago if it wasn't for the fact that I'm currently playing catch-up on it (having bought it blind for the past couple of years and not read them).

      I think your observations about Snyder are absolutely spot-on and this simple origin of the Dark Knight is quickly becoming a real mess. Strangely my fave issues I've recently read were a few of the Super-villains of the DCU one-shots; especially the Joker and Penguin stories - which had little if anything to do with this origin story-arc.

      I'm working my way towards Endgame but not with any great gusto as I've heard it isn't the magnum opus Snyder presumably thought he had written.

    2. It will be interesting to see your thoughts when you get to it. You may enjoy it more than I did. :)

      I would have liked to see more forward focused writing from Snyder, especially I would have enjoyed seeing more of Harper Row in the Batman arcs, and certainly think there was not enough modern-day Bruce Wayne through the arcs I have picked up.

    3. Well I hope to get through this series of "Batman" within the next few weeks, as I'd like to look at some of his earlier classic stories. I hadn't heard of Harper Row until this series. But as you say she seemed an interesting addition to the Bat Family.

      Thanks for following, and hopefully they'll be plenty of reviews for you to enjoy :-)