Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Batman #35 [The New 52] - DC Comics

BATMAN No. 35, December 2014
On the face of things it is not hard to see how Issue Thirty Five of “Batman” sold a staggering 118,860 copies in October 2014. Greg Capullo’s regular cover illustration alone promises that Scott Snyder’s interior “Endgame” narrative will involve the Dark Knight confronting perhaps his greatest and most exciting threat ever in the shape of the vigilante's fellow Justice League of America members… And any casual flick through the comic would certainly confirm such a mouth-watering slugfest actually takes place as Bruce Wayne “enact(s) plan ‘Fenrir’” and dons an incredibly impressive-looking armoured suit which has been specifically “designed for war. With the most powerful heroes on the planet.”

Indeed the opening half of this thirty-page periodical is dominated by the Caped Crusader outmanoeuvring Wonder Woman, the Flash and Aquaman by utilising a genuinely innovative array of devices such as powdered magnesium carbonate foam, frictionless coatings and the “bind of veils”; the latter being a relic “woven by Hephaestus in a moment of doubt” and “said to be made from wool from the sheep Odysseus’ men used to trick the Cyclops.” Unfortunately however the New Yorker’s storyline does come to something of an abrupt halt upon the arrival of Superman and the revelation that the Man of Steel, as well as the other Leaguers, are under the control of the Joker.

Admittedly Batman’s perilous predicament in the presence of a homicidal Big Blue is a fitting enough cliff-hanger for any comic book. But the American author’s tale ends so unexpectedly, and literally only midway through the magazine, as to arguably jar any reader immediately out of their reverie. Something which is made all the worse by the blatant difference in style (and to an extent quality) of the two vastly contrasting illustrators, with Capullo’s mesmerizingly detailed pencilling preceding the more cartoony, though equally as enjoyable, sketching of Kelley Jones in “The Pale Man”.

Quibbles as to the contents' layout aside, what is perhaps most perturbing about this magazine however, at least from Snyder’s perspective, has to be just how well written James Tynion IV’s script actually is. Based upon the premise of five escaped Arkham patients visiting one of their institution’s doctors at home in order to tell her a handful of fables about the Joker, the GLAAD Media Awards nominee’s story easily surpasses this title’s main story with its spine-tingling suspense and claustrophobic atmosphere.
The "Monsters Of The Month" variant cover art of "BATMAN" No. 35 by Brian Stelfreeze

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