Saturday, 31 October 2015

Batman #27 [The New 52] - DC Comics

BATMAN No. 27, March 2014
Part of “Scott Snyder’s… eleven-part comics event exploring Bruce Wayne’s beginnings as the Caped Crusader”, this rather laborious “homage” to Frank Miller’s “Batman: Year One” still somehow manages to contain enough “elements from the Bat mythos and stories that we really love” to make it a fairly enjoyable read. Indeed with the comic’s nod to Jim Gordon being “practically blind” without his prescription glasses and re-imagining of Loeb’s “trigger happy SWAT team” dismally failing to ‘nail’ an outmanoeuvred vigilante, it’s easy to see why this particular instalment of “Zero Year: Dark City” sold 115,492 copies in January 2014.

Disappointingly however, despite all its pulse-pounding action the New Yorker’s script is still a far cry from the 1987 four-issue story-arc which its author seems so desperate to emulate, and sadly suggestions that the Goodreads Choice Awards-nominee’s narrative is rather overly “ambitious” as a result. For whereas his ‘muse’ tells a simple straight-forward tale of the crime-fighter getting trapped by the authorities within the basement of a demolished building, Snyder’s encircled Dark Knight instead gets shot in the head, has his Bat-boat blown up with a grenade, goes ‘deep sea-diving’ courtesy of an air tank, and then finally gets fished out of Gotham River by the future Commissioner; “It’s a mile from shore. They’ll find you before you make it a quarter of that distance… Your call.”

Sadly the American writer also provides a similarly convoluted backstory for Bill Finger’s detective, by spending an incredibly wordy five-pages explaining that Gordon wears his familiar trenchcoat in order to “prove a point” to his corrupt colleagues, after they forced him to participate in a dog-fight when he was a beat bobby. Such a dialogue-heavy drawn-out sequence really slows down any momentum Batman’s somewhat contrived flight from Loeb’s gunmen created. But also seems rather out of character for a Special Forces veteran who is both a disciplined “man of integrity” and not one to tolerate intimidation…      

Perhaps this comic’s biggest conundrum though is the fretful pacing of Greg Capullo’s usually stellar artwork, as each page appears to have been crammed with as many letterbox panels as the Schenectady-born penciller can manage. Such a drawing technique inevitably provides the storyline with some much-needed impetus. Yet coupled with FCO Plascencia’s ghastly green and purple hues, makes this book rather tiring on the eyes.
The "Scribblenauts" variant cover art of "BATMAN" No. 27 by John Katz

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