Saturday, 19 December 2015

Batman #31 [The New 52] - DC Comics

BATMAN No. 31, July 2014
Incredibly the best-selling “DC Comics” publication of May 2014, it is hard to understand just how Issue Thirty One of “Batman” managed to peddle an incredible 107,499 copies when all both Scott Snyder and its titular character seem intent on doing throughout its narrative is simply ‘buy time’ until the comic’s next set-piece can be made ready. Indeed one could easily argue that any casual bibliophile could quite merrily skip the opening half of this twenty-two page periodical, and not only save themselves the tedium of negotiating panel after laborious panel of heavily-laden word balloons. But omit yet another head-scratchingly contrived set of circumstances which rather bizarrely result in the Dark Knight being trapped at the bottom of an underground car park surrounded by ravenous man-eating lions.

Fortunately however, once the New Yorker’s narrative does focus upon the masked vigilante’s battle with his carnivorous opponents, this comic actually transforms into a seriously tense and enthralling experience. For whilst the three-time Stan Lee Award-winner still insists on annoyingly slowing down the pace of his plot with plenty of infuriating flashbacks to when Bruce Wayne was at college studying. His depiction of the ‘present-day’ costumed crimefighter matching his wits and ingenuity against the savagery of two ferocious big cats proves both plausible and positively pulse-pounding. In fact the action is so good, as Batman drains a disused vehicle for its gasoline in order to create an impromptu flamethrower and then later batters a Panthera Leo with a self-made Bat-shield that one may even forgive penciller Greg Capullo for cramming the majority of these stunning sequences into just a handful of panels; “I’ve got one last question for you, Edward… Is that all you’ve got? Is it?!”

Disappointingly the former “Quasar” artist certainly seems to find plotting his colleague’s script somewhat difficult, especially at the book’s beginning, when a good deal of the story revolves around the Riddler once again challenging the city’s “Gothamites” to “save this place from its own encroaching entropic end” by besting him with an unsolvable conundrum. Presumably tired of drawing Edward Nygma’s never-changing sedentary face from a variety of different angles, the Schenectady-born illustrator even attempts to break up the monotony of his layouts by depicting the Dark Knight briefly popping into a local rundown warehouse store for a change of gloves.
The "BATMAN '66" variant cover art of "BATMAN" No. 31 by Mike & Laura Allred

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