Gotham City is in trouble again as Mr. Bloom and his friends run rampant within the city, and there’s no Batman to stop them. Will Bruce Wayne remember who he is in time, or does Jim Bat have a few more tricks up his sleeve? Find out in your Major Spoilers review of Batman #48!
Previously in Batman: Jim Gordon and his team thought they had finally caught Mr. Bloom, but his capture was just the beginning of his master plan. Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne began to remember his life before amnesia, but an unexpected guest interrupted his train of thought.
THE CITY IS ABOUT TO DIE
When it comes to Gotham City, destruction is just another day. Mr. Bloom and his gang begin their attack on the city, condemning their prisoner, Jim Gordon, as a symbol of the system that failed the people. Mr. Bloom encourages the citizens to find the seeds he planted all over the city and use them to empower themselves and do whatever it is they’ve been powerless to do before. Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne talks with the man who has forgotten that he was The Joker. Before it could be finished, Bruce rushed off to try and protect those closest to him.
When it comes to Batman stories, there is very little that can be done that hasn’t been done before. Gotham is always under attack by some force, and Snyder likes to bring it right to the brink of destruction. This is the third storyline in a row that has the city facing a wide scale attack, which really raises the question: Why the hell do people still live in this city? I really enjoyed Death of the Family and Court of the Owls for being smaller, more personal Batman stories, and I think we need another one of those from the two men who really know how to tell them. Not that what we’re getting in this storyline is bad, as it started much smaller, but it would be nice of the climax was not a fight on a big scale. If there’s anything Scott Snyder loves more than the potential death of Gotham, it’s speeches, and this issue is full of them. Not Joker makes one about the man he’s become for a few pages, followed by Bloom’s speech on telling the people to take what they want for pretty much the rest of the book. While I normally don’t mind Snyder’s speeches, it does feel like we’re stalling for time with these. They’re good speeches, full of interesting analogies, but the last few pages, which feature reduced dialogue, are full of glimpses of the kind of excitement we want out of Batman. It’s obvious that they want #50 to be a big issue not just for the book, but also for this story, and in order to get there without this story ending sooner, they have to do some vamping. We get hints at what is coming next, and it promises to be exciting, but we’re taking our sweet time getting there. The beginning conversation between Bruce Wayne and the Not Joker is strong, and it is moments like that that remind us of the strengths in this team’s Batman run, and that helps that issue from falling too far behind. This storyline has been good, and the ending promises to be great, but this filler is the weakest of what we’ve had so far.
BROKEN BODIES AND A BROKEN BAT
While the story may be lulling a little, the art doesn’t fail to deliver. Greg Capullo has a real knack for body horror, and the body twisting in this issue might just keep me up at night. Mr. Bloom has always been a creature of shifting physiology, but it’s been hidden behind body suits and masks. This time, we get to see what his seeds do to a human body, and it is not pretty. Neither is the destruction on the streets, which Capullo also knows how to do with style. The streets are on fire and the people are panicking and we’ve seen it all before, but the stakes still feel real. While the writer gives direction on these things, it is up to the artist to sell it, and I’m willing to buy in entirely. The last couple of pages show us that everything is about to come together, and the strength of the built anticipation is in the visuals. There are no big visual moments in this issue that stand out, but every panel is well crafted as part of the ongoing, unsettling story. There is menace in every corner, even in moments as simple as a man sitting on a bench to feed some fish in the pond. As I’ve read back over the book, I find myself lingering on the last page, a simple shot of Bruce and Alfred. There’s something about the facial expressions and body language that make it really powerful, a culmination of what Bruce has been going through and where his journey has been leading. I’m really going to miss Capullo on this book during his upcoming break, and I hope that he returns without too much delay.
THE BOTTOM LINE: A FILLER ISSUE FROM A STRONG TEAM
Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have built up enough good will to get a pass on anything that makes this a weaker issue, and Capullo’s art does a lot to elevate this above what it could have been as well. I cannot wait to see the giant battle that is going to take place on the streets of Gotham City, but I wish they weren’t taking so much time getting us there. You could point at this issue as an example of what is wrong with Snyder’s writing, but even lesser writing from him is strong and captivating storytelling. In a collected format this chapter will likely flow well as a part of the larger narrative, but only getting an issue a month makes slower times a little more grating. I can’t wait for issue 49, but that’s mostly because I can’t wait for the next step we’re not yet taking.
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