In life, sadly, a little rain must fall. Thus far, Batman Zero Year has been flawless. The pacing, the structure, the way writer Scott Snyder has made subtle and interesting changes to Batman’s origin – it has all clicked perfectly. However, in a story as vast as the one Snyder is telling, there are bound to be hiccups. Batman #27 is one of those hiccups. Nothing happening here is inherently bad, it’s just a bit too wordy and, for my money, some key opportunities are lost.
When last we left the caped crusader, he was under fire from the Gotham City Police Department, headed by Commissioner Loeb, a man whose hatred for Batman has turned bloodthirsty. Trapped and rather inexperienced, the Dark Knight is continuously bested by Loeb and his men. When he goes high, they shoot high, when he goes low, they are there with a ground assault. This was a great start to the story, one that highlights not only how green Bruce Wayne is, but how much he relies on gadgets instead of intuition.
The problems start with next section – the rescue of Batman by Jim Gordon. Batman manages to escape Loeb in a way that seems off-base, considering how prepared Loeb is. It’s also a bit too chancy that Gordon would happen upon Batman in the middle of the Gotham River. Once Gordon pulls Batman aboard his boat, there’s an unnecessary bit concerning Gordon turning over his eyeglasses to Batman, enabling our hero to remove his mask. The exchange is unnecessary, and Batman removing his mask never really amounts to anything.
From there, Gordon launches into a five-page explanation outlining that he’s not a crooked cop, and how he stood against corruption in Gotham. The story itself is interesting, and it sets up nicely how Gordon, who had shut down his hopes of helping Gotham, has been reinvigorated by the appearance of Batman and Bruce Wayne. The delivery is what doesn’t work. Something like this should be broken up, given to us in pieces. It builds tension and strengthens the mystery. In Batman #27, it’s all exposition, which is underwhelming.
Then things take another oddly unnecessary turn. Finally getting back to the Batcave, Wayne has another lengthy conversation with Alfred. At first, the psychoanalytical scenes between Alfred and Wayne worked really well to establish their relationship. At this point, they feel like a fallback position. What’s even more bizarre is this theory Alfred spouts that Wayne is doing his Batman thing to punish both Gordon and Alfred for not being able to save his parents in the alley, and that the reason Wayne won’t accept help from anyone is because he wants them to watch him being consumed by his obsession. It’s an interesting theory, but it kind of turns Batman into Bruce Wayne’s temper tantrum, which undercuts what Batman is. I’m sure there’s master plan here, but I just don’t think this element gels with the Dark Knight’s history.
Greg Capullo continues his tour de force with Batman. I’m not only a fan of Capullo’s work, his signature style and interesting, complex pencils, but I also love his scope. He presents his work with the eye of a cinematographer, which really helps Batman pop. Hats off to inker Danny Miki, too. Inking the type of detail-oriented work that Capullo does is not easy. Too little and the pages seem unfinished, too much and they become muddy. Miki hits the nail on the head. Same with FCO Plascencia’s colors, which are muted, but still exciting.
(3 Story, 4.5 Art)