I take my Batman very seriously especially with New 52, a continuity that is still rather shaky in some of its crucial landings for the most part (I'm honestly getting tested with some other titles, like JLA, Teen Titans and Action Comics, which are mixed bags of awesomeness and weird shit), but I'm quite happy, nay, even proud to say that Scott Synder's Batman run is one of the DC titles of the new continuity that is trying to be consistent and excellent in every creative decision made. Now I know there are two to three more issues to go but I can already say that Zero Year is my most favorite saga from Snyder's run.
Issue #30, Savage City part I opens up with a dream sequence from Bruce Wayne. He wakes up from that and finds himself in an almost fairy tale-esque setting: Gotham City is presently infested with shrubbery and forestry (thanks to Pamela Isley's plant formula which the Riddler stole) while its despondent citizenry haplessly shuffle through their lives, waiting for a hero who has only woken up, and one who is still unsure how to undo the terrible 'curse' that intellectual narcissist Edward Nygma has cast. Looking through the illustrations, my mind just started having nostalgic recollections of Sleeping Beauty and it certainly fits the atmospheric tone and mood of the entire issue.
This is the foremost reason the storytelling itself spoke to me resonantly. I love a murky setting which most fairy tales have, especially when there's the general good and evil forces thrown into the mix. Nygma as the Riddler is a pompous, self-serving man who claims to have the higher ground by challenging the city to 'get smart or die', taunting them to one-up him through a sick game of riddles. So far, no one has defeated him in this mental battle and this is definitely the side of the Riddler than I can get into because Edward Nygma had always believed he is intellectually gifted and it distraught him to be surrounded by lesser minds. This riddle game of his is also his way to show off and make people around him inferior which definitely strokes that bombastic ego of his. The expanse of the artwork and illustrations by Capullo, Miki and FCO are (and I cannot stress this any more than I already have since the beginning of Zero Year) is sheer perfection; the attention to detail and coloring are staggering. Each page is just so full of lush; even the grittier action sequences look pretty.
Now for my nitpicks: it's rather simple, really. WHAT THE HELL HAS ALFRED BEEN DOING WHILE BRUCE WAYNE/BATMAN IS BELIEVED TO BE DEAD? I refuse to believe that all he did was sit on the bat-cave, just waiting. Alfred is such a vital character in Batman's rich history, and I wish Snyder gave him a more important role in this issue in light of Bruce's absence. I could totally picture him taking the reigns, picking up on where Batman left off because he is equipped with military weapons at his disposal in the bat-cave anyway so why the hell not won't he keep the spirit of Batman alive? Heck, Jim Gordon is running around, trying to figure out a way to get the citizens free out of Gotham. So why is Alfred just sitting around there? He's no feeble old man. He's always had more teeth than most butlers in the fictional universe of comics. That's a missed opportunity there, Mr. Snyder. If Alfred took the cowl for himself temporarily, this may lead to him understanding why Batman is relevant to Gotham. He may be more inclined to finally accept Bruce's choice to become a vigilante. But nope. That's not what happened. It's a minuscule detail but one that could have been produced a really amazing character exposition.
That's really my only nitpick for this issue. Other than that, the first installment of Savage City has an even brisk pace that sets up the pieces before they are maneuvered across the board for hopefully a great match of wits and endurance between Batman and the Riddler for the upcoming issues.