Friday, 4 March 2016

Batman #36 [The New 52] - DC Comics

BATMAN No. 36, January 2015
Initially dedicated to arguably “DC Comics” most requested confrontation before its narrative perceptibly darkens to depict the Caped Crusader at his deductive best, this second instalment of Scott Snyder’s “Endgame” genuinely seems to contain all the strengths of a “Batman” title and few of its weaknesses. For whilst it’s unclear just why a shockingly foul-mouthed Alfred is unwell and “not at full strength”, nor how Pennyworth happens to have come by an adolescent-looking daughter, this thirty-page periodical does contain the Dark Knight seriously smacking down Superman in a titanic tussle as well as the Joker at his most chillingly evil: “See Batssss, this time, no more games… No more jokes. I’m just here to close up shop!” In fact in many ways it is actually hard to understand just why so action-packed and sinisterly suspenseful a magazine didn’t manage to be the best-selling title of November 2014, at least according to “Diamond Comic Distributors”, and instead languished in third shifting 115,183 copies.

Admittedly few collectors could have anticipated the Goodreads Choice Award-nominee scripting such a scintillating scrap as the one Issue Thirty Six of “Batman” contains. The American author somehow manages to capture all the ingenuity and cunning of Bruce Wayne during his battle with Kal-El, as the Bat-Suit armoured vigilante repeatedly knocks his super-strong opponent to the ground courtesy of knuckles which contain “microscopic red suns”, counters the boy scout’s heat vision with “plasma shields” and finally overcomes Jerry Siegel’s co-creation due to “a butadiene-based synthetic rubber… laced with radioactive Kryptonian dust” which he simply spits in Superman’s eye.

Equally as enthralling however is the American author’s hauntingly claustrophobic portrayal of the titular character as he silently stalks Arkham Asylum “after the collapse” and discovers cell 0801 contains far more than fading memories, spider webs and entrapped flies. Indeed the New Yorker’s revelation that orderly “Mister Border” is actually the Clown Prince of Crime in disguise is extremely well-written and only spoilt by the fact that the Joker’s alter ego was already revealed in the “Arkham Manor” mini-series.

Disappointingly this comic’s secondary story “Saved” pales in comparison with such a cracking lead feature, especially as James Tynion IV and (legendary) artist Graham Nolan both fail to generate anything like the exhilaration of Snyder and Greg Capullo's masterpiece in the telling of their rather tired-looking eight-page tale. True, the Wisconsin-raised writer’s anecdote of a homicidal wife brutally murdering her family because she believed there was a chip “in their brains” is disconcertingly penned. But the artwork, whilst legible enough, simply doesn’t seem to suit so cheerlessly nefarious an adventure.
The variant cover art of "BATMAN" No. 36 by Andy Kubert


  1. I will be interested to read your thoughts on the rest of the arc Simon. :)

    1. Thanks PulpCitizen... I think. Please don't tell me its rubbish, I've really liked this one so far...

    2. I think it was a much better arc than the Year Zero stuff, with some caveats.

      I think you capture the strengths of the opening very well there. :)

    3. That's much appreciated PulpCitizen, and reassuring :-)