The Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo team return to Batman and take us six years in the past; we get the Red Hood and his gang, a younger and less weathered Jim Gordon, a clue into the inspiration of the Robins, and an overall peek into the pre-Batman…Batman.
While Batman #12 was great and I’d be first in line for a Becky Cloonan done Batman book it was nice to have Capullo and Snyder back, Capullo especially has almost typecasted the New 52 Batman book with his unique design and style that I immediately felt right at home despite the departure last month. And it was a Capullo feeling issue too; start off with some panels of architect, flip the page for action.
While the story is six years in the past the opening bit oddly felt like a tease for the upcoming Death of the Family arc, whether or not this Red Hood winds up being the Joker there was enough similarity to invite the comparison – the big smile in the first splash page, poisoning a cake, the humorous dialogue, the flower that at the end which seems to be a bomb of some sort – all can make you wonder if we just read something that eventually will tie in. Despite the great opening though the disappointment of how short it was and knowing that we don’t get to see more until 2013 almost outweighed how much fun it was to read.
And if the Red Hood part of it wasn’t enough we may have gotten our first/oldest New 52-continuity look at Matched Malone. Minus the glasses.
Also noteworthy for me was knowing exactly who Red Hood Five was (Bruce) from the moment he took off his mask. It wasn’t the fault of the story but the skill and attention to detail on Capullo’s part. I’m not sure exactly what he does but being skillful enough to disuse a character while still making them recognizable is fun to read and watch.
The post-returning to Gotham yet pre-Batman time in Bruce’s life is always interesting to explore and Scott Snyder’s version here is no exception; from the “valet” motorcycle to the Batcave without any “bat” was all great stuff. Even the rooftop conversation between Gordon and Bruce (which I found to be a bit heavy on the exposition however interesting) had the added tension of Bruce trying out his new gadgets.
In the end though I’m not sure how much needed information we actually learned from the whole thing. We know Snyder’s penchant for story building and how this will somehow loop together but this one-off story kinda wasn’t a one-off story. It almost felt like an extended preview to be honest. A great looking preview with intense action and a cool tease at the end, but I don’t feel that much more knowledgeable than I did coming in.
The standout here was the James Tynion IV backup as we get to witness the first inspiration to the three main Robins and Barbara Gordon’s Batgirl. Tim Drake the detective, the mixed up Jason Todd, the Flying Grayson’s and awestruck Barbara. We even get the origin of the Batsignal, giving us even more insight into Gordon’s feelings which were interesting given how we just read his first impressions of the “vigilante” only a few pages earlier. It’s still hard for me to grasp the 3 robins in 5 years they’re trying to build but this is interesting – all 3 Robins and Batgirl get their first tug towards the Bat, on the same night, in the same moment, when the Batsignal goes on for the first time.
If your going to go for it, this was a cool way to do it. Very. Very. Cool.
I think the most troublesome element for me wasn’t even in this particular issue; in Batman and Robin #0, which also came out this week and is a book I REALLY wish I had time to review since it has been a shining point of the whole New 52, we get another layer into the origin of Damian. Both of these books are a great read but they seem to contradict each other – Damian can’t be more than 4 or 5 years old when we finds a Batsuit that Talia has kept, insinuating of course the previous [and at least 5-7 year long] relationship between herself and Batman, yet here in Batman #0 there was no Batman just 6 years ago.
Hows stuff like that work?
In no way did this harm the fun of either issue, nor does it really matter (it’s not like continuity made perfect sense pre-New 52) but I can’t help but notice the little things and it makes me think that no matter how hard the New 52 tries my brain can’t not include what came before.
All things considered Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo deliver another standout issue. From the composition to the actual story it was worth every dime.
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|Capullo back on art and Snyder’s perspective is always interesting. Plus, I’m pretty were getting teased with The Joker||I’m sure it’ll come full circle but for now the takeaway didn’t seem much. Guess we’ll have to wait till 2013.|