|BATMAN No. 37, February 2015|
Despite having been described by “Comic Book Resources”, a “website dedicated to the coverage of comic book-related news and discussion”, as a magazine which “plays the game of blockbuster storytelling without fear”, the narrative to Issue Thirty Seven of “Batman” probably proved something of a confusing conundrum to its impressive 113,255 strong audience in December 2014. Certainly the “bestseller for DC Comics”, at least according to “Diamond Comic Distributors”, must have had the vast majority of its owners reaching for their copy of the previous “Endgame” instalment in order to determine whether they had inadvertently missed an edition somewhere.
For whilst Scott Snyder’s thirty-page thriller eventually returns to the tense, scarily sinister machinations of a hauntingly insane Clown Prince of Crime and his seemingly successful abduction of Commissioner Jim Gordon, the New Yorker’s storyline confusingly starts by depicting Bruce Wayne dramatically ‘waking’ in the Batcave having been dosed with “some kind of twilight anaesthetic” a considerable period after the story-arc’s previous publication ended on a nail-biting cliff-hanger. Such an incomprehensible ‘leap forward’ frustratingly fails to resolve just how the Dark Knight escaped his arch-nemesis' deadly firing piece and also annoyingly avoids the even more problematic predicament of the American author believably explaining the criminal psychopath’s apparent return from beyond the grave…
Admittedly the passage of time does allow the Eagle Award-winner to quickly place the Caped Crusader back in the thick of the action, as the vigilante attempts to brave the crazed lunatics crowding the corridors of Gotham Presbyterian hospital “to find the source of the [Joker's] infection”. But this predicament genuinely feels like a lazily contrived set of circumstances, designed to entertain rather than make any actual logical sense, and as a result proves something of a dissatisfying experience; especially when the Billionaire's alter-ego discovers a clearly manufactured theatrical death-trap within one of the wards.
An even worse reading experience however, is sadly this comic’s back-up feature “The First Laugh”, written by James Tynion IV and quite deplorably depicted by John McCrea. Focusing upon the “big ole goof” Morton, an escapee from Arkham Manor, this terrible tale tells of how the massive murderer started a killing spree in order to simply teach his fellow Gothamites that “laughing is like a disease” and portrays the Joker as some sort of malformed supernatural white-faced spectre who has supposedly survived being burnt “to ash all those years ago” rather than a mortal mastermind.
|The variant cover art of "BATMAN" No. 37 by Andy Kubert and Brad Anderson|