First off, apologies to everyone who was waiting for this review to up yesterday, as expected. I ended up going to a cousin’s birthday party in the evening and that took up a huge chunk of my reading time. And when I sat down to read the issues again for the review, I was just way too tired and kept dozing off in the middle. So once again, apologies.
Now, for the review. Given the immense proliferation of Batman-related titles in the New 52, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s run is the only one I stuck with when I begin reading comics again last year. It was a maze of titles and I was unsure what to pick up. Recently, my fellow The Founding Fields reviewer Bane of Kings was talking quite highly about John Layman’s run on the title so I decided to pick it up from its fourth volume arc, starting on the special #19 issue which commemorates what would have been the 900th issue of Detective Comics had DC not renumbered their titles for the New 52.
And I found that I quite enjoyed these issues. Layman’s writing is fantastic, easily a match for Snyder’s and the same can be said for Fabok’s art, which is just as good as Capullo’s but is stylistically different. Whether its the special, or the conclusion of the Emperor Penguin saga or the League of Assassins one-shot or the three-issue arc with the villain Wrath, I enjoyed both the writing and the artwork. Fabok is already a favourite and now I’m a Layman fan as well.
Note: Some minor spoilers for the backups are mentioned in this review.
Batman: Zero Year has been one of the best mini-events in comics that I’ve read to date. In the space of the first four issues, #21-24, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo gave us a fantastic look at the early years of Gotham as it would come to be under Batman’s vigilantism and we saw the fantastic origin of the titular character. With superb art comes a superb story and till now, nothing has been the least bit disappointing, apart from some really minor stuff.
Which is why, reading this brand-new issue, I was confused as to what was happening. With the last issue, Snyder/Capullo ended their first arc and concluded the Red Hood Gang story, rather dramatically I might add, and they set up the Riddler to be the new big villain. With the new issue however, it is as if we are in an interlude, which doesn’t quite jive with the way that everything is two minutes to midnight in the story, with the worst storm in Gotham’s history approaching and the city entirely without power.
So, my Villain’s Month reading kicked off a couple hours ago with Andy Kubert’s Batman #23.1, featuring The Joker. As I’ve remarked elsewhere, some of these Villain’s Month issues are essential origin issues, or they are continuations of the ongoing Trinity War/Forever Evil event continuity. This particular issue falls somewhere in the middle, since it is a flashback issue set at some point in The Joker’s past, presumably. It barely touches on his origins, and it doesn’t acknowledge the ongoing events in the DC Universe.
This made for some interesting, and it was certainly an issue I’d really been looking forward to. However, I was disappointed again and again by this book. And that’s kind of depressing really. When you go for cerebral stories in comics, you better be really good at handling that stuff, like J. Michael Straczynski or Jim Starlin or Gail Simone or Scott Snyder good. That is so not the case here, I’m sorry to say.