|BATMAN No. 30, June 2014|
Despite shifting an astonishing 108,998 copies in April 2014, and as a result being that month’s best-selling “DC Comics” title, this opening instalment of Scott Snyder’s “Savage City” story-arc arguably makes little sense whatsoever, and certainly depicts both an emerging Batman and fledgling Riddler in a rather disappointing manner. For whereas this series’ previous edition had the Caped Crusader desperately fighting Edward Nygma for control of Gotham City’s power grid, this issue leaps forward in time a good six months or so, and would have its readers believe that during this period Bruce Wayne has done little but lay unconscious on a mattress in a small boy’s bedroom. Whilst the criminal mastermind, now ruler of all he surveys, has somehow “created barriers to any entry” to the rapidly decaying metropolis, including a “barrage of weather balloons… filled with deadly chemicals” and kept its starving population trapped within the city limits by ‘flooding the tunnels.’
Such a rather implausible situation sadly makes this twenty-seven page long narrative feel more like an “Elseworlds” alternative universe comic book which has been based upon ‘A World Without Humans’ than the costumed crime-fighter’s usual deductive fare, and it is therefore hard to properly comprehend much of what takes place within the story. Indeed as the billionaire industrialist queries himself “How did he [Nygma] do all this?” and despite the fiend’s deterrents, why is the outside world allowing it to happen?
Admittedly there’s still plenty of action to be had within the walls of Snyder’s horribly contrived dilapidated settlement once the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group’s “five men in space suits” parachute into Gotham and attempt to negotiate with the Riddler. The maniac’s game of dominoes with tower blocks is both dramatic and causes some genuine tension whilst it lasts. But even this scene seems rather false and artificial, and far larger in scale than anything Bill Finger’s co-creation would ordinarily be capable of doing with such wild abandonment.
Regular penciller Greg Capullo’s usually impressive artwork also appears rather off-key with Issue Thirty of “Batman”, as the New Yorker rather blatantly pads out sections of the plot with some rather poorly drawn single and double-splashes. In fact it isn’t until after the aforementioned DEVGRU “fifty million dollars” bargain attempt that the former “Spawn” artist finally appears to ‘get into his stride’ and produce some breathtakingly detailed panels of the Dark Knight as he thwarts Nygma’s plan to crush Jim Gordon beneath tonnes of falling masonry by bridging the gap between two high-rise buildings using a disused water tower.
|The "MAD" variant cover art of "BATMAN" No. 30 by Bob Staake|