Stuart's Pick of the Week for 1.22.14: Batman #27 (duh)
Barton Who? She’s Practically an Avenger… So this was another tough week to pick the comic I most enjoyed. It came down to two: Fraction’s Hawkeye and Snyder’s Batman. I chose the latter. But let me say that Hawkeye was fantastic. I will talk about it a bit. Do you know why? Because I can. This is Hawkeye #16 which is weird because there is no Hawkeye #15. I have no idea for the reasoning, but these quirks are part of the charm of the book. It follows Kate Bishop and her adventures in LA, away from Clint Barton. She finds a homeless man who , it turns out, was a famous singer in the 60’s. He turned to drugs and the fame went away. Along the way, his brother stole his recordings and Kate takes it upon herself to confront his brother and get them back. In the end, Kate inspires the singer to come back and sing to an audience. Simple story, but well written and witty as always. Here is one of my favorite panels in which the singer thanks his purple “savior.” If you can pick up two comics, include this one for sure.
Bait and Switch…
On to Batman #27. This comic was another brilliant piece of work by Snyder and Capullo. First off, the cover is amazing. I’ve been seeing this image for the past few weeks and have fawned over it. That being said, it also encompasses all that makes me angry about many covers. It has absolutely nothing to do with the issue.
Why do people do this? Yea, it is awesome, but it is a bait and switch. The villain does not even make an appearance in the comic, and Batman isn’t being torn apart. It seems like almost every comic has this problem, You see our heroes fighting villains, or villains that have taken out every hero on the cover. You get excited to read it because of what you see, then you read it and find nothing but disappointment and confusion. Forever Evil has been doing this for awhile. Luckily, this issue was fantastic so it was a bait and switch, but the switch was amazing.
Because of Bruce Wayne…
The book opens with a bang. Literally. Batman is being shot at by the cops. He deploys his tear gas, but the cops taunt him, telling him they are prepared for it. He shoots for the ceiling with his hook, but again, the cops taunt him, letting him know they know his every move. He manages to get to his boat which has a grenade secretly placed in it by the cops, and it explodes. At this point, Bruce is looking pretty bad. Out of the frying pan, into the fire.
He jumps into another pool of water an emerges away from the cops, into the waiting arms of…Gordon. The last time these two met, it was very intense. Bruce basically threatened Gordon with a gun. But that was Bruce, and now he is Batman. He must hide his feelings. Gordon tells Batman better take the mask off before his face gets burned. Batman of course hesitates, but Gordon takes off his glasses so that he will not be able to tell his identity. What a cool idea, and shows that maybe they are trusting one another.
I Wear This Coat as a Reminder to Them…
Gordon reveals to Bruce that it was Nygma (The Riddler) who tipped off the cops, who told them exactly what he would do. Batman asks why should he trust Gordon? Gordon said it was because of Bruce Wayne. He starts to explain the corruption he had seen the day Bruce’s parents were killed. He said he went back to the tailor that gave him the trench coat and went to the back only to see officers betting on dog fighting. Gordon threatened to turn them in. The cops turned the dogs loose on Gordon. The put bets and Gordon, to his horror, realized they were pulling for the dogs. Gordon doesn’t make it and is eaten by the dogs. Just kidding. He wards the dogs off with his trench coat but is a bloody mess as a result. He places a gun on the back of one of the cop’s head, and the cop reminds him of Gordon’s kids, and said those dogs would be let loose on them if anything happened there..
There is some amazing coloring going on here by Plascencia. Gordon explains that he tried his best to stop the corruption. He said he couldn’t face Bruce again that night, after the look of horror young Bruce had shown him. Gordon says he wears that coat now as a reminder. A reminder to the corrupt cops, but also a reminder of the shame he felt letting a little boy down. This coat again shows great importance. In the previous issue we were told it reminded Bruce of that day his parents were killed, the day he found out that the police were corrupt. Now we get the truth and find that the trench coat also means a great deal to Gordon. Who would have thought? What great writing to use such a trivial item and make it a big turning point in two men’s lives. And with that, Gordon looks back and Batman is gone.
Kisses and Hugs from Gotham
Back at the cave, we get another great moment with Bruce and this time it involves Alfred. Alfred suggests that Bruce needs help. He says maybe he should start leaning on Gordon, or at least on his butler. Bruce comes home with all of these bruises and Alfred just wants to help in some way. He tried to be there for Bruce while Bruce was alone in Africa but Bruce wouldn’t allow it. He tells Bruce that he is angry with everyone, with Gordon, with Alfred. Alfred says the reason is because nobody was there for young Bruce while he sat in his parents pool of blood. Gordon was not there. Alfred was not there. Neither was Batman. Alfred says that being Batman is Bruce’s way of punishing everyone else, to make everyone bear witness. Alfred continues: “You asked me why you keep me here, and I believe it’s not to watch over you, sir, but to watch you. To watch you do what I couldn’t. You are making us all watch. The whole city. You shut us out and punish us night after night, as you go out there and protect those we can’t. But if you do that, sir, if you let the past drive Batman, his scars, he becomes something very dark, a demon of vengeance. Not a creature of justice or hope. And he will not last, nor will you.” Man, that is some powerful stuff. So is the image that follows, Capullo’s homage to Frank Miller. The first is Miller’s art (if only he always drew like that), the second is Capullo’s sketch and the third is Capullo’s final image. Awesome.
In the panel below we see that Batman is looking over Gordon’s family. We see James Jr, who notices Batman. That gave me chills because, if you remember, James Jr. becomes a crazy psychopathic killer. But these are simpler times.
Get Smart or Die…
Next we find Bruce who says he knows where Helfern is…the catacombs. What better place for a Lord of Bones. This was creepy to see. I’ve been to real catacombs before. I’ve seen the Capuchin monks in Rome. Extremely scary. Bruce finds a set of plans and realizes that he was wrong, that Helfern is making a doomsday device to control the whole city for his boss…Nygma. Nygma’s image shows up in the monitors and says that the world is dying, resources are dwindling, and the only weapon against that is intelligence. He wants to speed up the process, weed out the dumb. He calls Batman a detective (which was really cool). He says detective novels are like riddles, a battle of wits. Batman has lost this battle. A flood comes in and engulfs Batman. We see a small peek of Riddler’s plan. We see a question on a box, on a door, and on a balloon. Clearly something big is planned. Will Batman make it out alive? Well, of course he will. This is a flashback.
So this article turned out to be a really long article, but this comic was so great it deserves it. I love the character driven moments, the exploration of Gordon, the question’s and observations of Alfred. Once again Snyder and Capullo show they have a mastery of the Batman. Can’t wait for the next issue…