Sunday, June 15, 2014

[New 52] Batman by Scott Snyder issue #27, ZERO YEAR

While the last issue had problems with pacing and visual detail in which it simultaneously lacks the suspense and action sequences previous Zero Year issues were able to deliver, Batman issue #27 is jam-packed with too many things going on for a standard comic issue release. The wondrous action sequences at the beginning were appropriately reminiscent of Frank Miller's memorable confrontation scene in Year One in which Batman is apprehended by GCPD. The visual work for this scene done by Capullo was once again in a league of its own, especially with FCO's quality and level of color palette that are bursting with flavor and variety. They were by far the best action scene in Zero Year series, even surpassing that A.C.E Chemicals fight scene between Batman and Red Hood in issue #24.

Nevertheless, the pacing for this issue's narrative suffered because of the unevenness to it in general. Right after that massively enjoyable action-laden pages, we get a lengthy expository flashback courtesy of Jim Gordon which wasn't that interesting and quite cheesy. I have expressed before that I wanted to know why Bruce Wayne hates Gordon's guts and it strangely has something to do with the trench coat Jimbo wears around (which was supposedly a pay-off; which means Gordon is a corrupt cop). It was a great idea in itself but Synder took too much time and effort justifying Gordon's side of the story which made him come off as naive and completely wet on the ears. You would think that he would play it smart when he was confronted with a morally ambigious situation (as Jim Gordon has done countless times before).

And yet in that flashback sequence, we get a totally inexperienced cop who should have known better, given that he wasn't that much new to the force in the first place. It just felt wrong to me, that whole thing about Jim threatening to go to the media on his fellow cops who are corrupt and could have killed him on the spot (and they should have too! Gordon was not a Commissioner yet; he was a low-ranking officer at the time.) Again, that flashback exposition only confused me as a reader (not to mention it was a mouthful to read for something Gordon narrated while he and Batman and are escaping from the GCPD).

My most favorite part of the issue is definitely the conversation between Bruce and Alfred later on, which is just as wordy but has more substance than Gordon's flashback story. I think we need to quote Alfred's brilliantly insightful if not absolutely masterful analysis of Bruce's psyche at this point:
"Watching you these past weeks, I see weren't suspicious of me because I'd turned you in [just like] other times in the past. And you're not suspicious of Gordon because you think he's crooked. You're angry with us. All of us. You were a little boy, all alone in that alley, and no one was there for you. Not me, not Gordon, not your fellow Gothamites. And not Batman. Now I'm very proud of what you've become, sir. But I fear that deep down, you're doing this all, being Batman, as some way of punishing us. By making us BEAR WITNESS."

That last part "You're punishing us by making us bear witness" was just chilling, no? At this point, Bruce is being vindictive; his true motivation is tainted with his unwillingness to forgive humanity for abandoning him as a child. As punishment, he wanted the rest of Gotham to see the creature of darkness they turned him into. It was really a punch to the gut to read that, to have that spelled out for me as a Batman fan who had always considered him as an epitome of goodness, justice and hope. Synder wants to send across the message that Zero Year is a portrayal of a Bruce Wayne still trying to salvage what was not completely damaged inside him as a young boy, trying to overcome all the demons in order to become the symbol he was meant to represent as Batman--someone of unyielding strength and dedication to all things that are worth most fighting for.

But aside from the fantastic action sequences at the beginning and this ridiculously on-the-spot monologue from Alfred, this issue isn't the best that the Zero Year series has to offer. The last scenes are most commendable though because it finally ends the Dark City segment and we are finally thrust back into the Riddler storyline. However, readers who have read each release monthly will have to wait some more since the next issue is a preview for the new Synder series Batman: Eternal

Way to keep them wanting and coming back for more, guys.


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