Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Batman by Scott Snyder issue #31, ZERO YEAR

The comic book medium is a rich tapestry that combines the elements of storytelling narrative and visual artistry so in reading, reviewing and appreciating the content of a comic book issue, one must never neglect to take the aesthetic appeal that complements the written passages within. Scott Snyder's Zero Year issues have been widely acclaimed not only for its scope of story but also the splendid collaboration among Greg Capullo (penciler), Danny Miki (inker) and FCO (colorist) to produce some of the most engaging and stunning artwork and illustrations that truly capture the essence of Snyder's stories as they come to life in the pages.

Another thing to commend for this saga are the covers which range from minimalist depictions of objects to beautifully detailed portraits that have symbolic meanings. The cover for this issue, the second installment for Savage City, falls on the latter category. One of the most iconic images of Batman is whenever he's standing on a skyscraper somewhere, his figure but a shadow across the ominous dark sky. However, in this cover, we see Batman crouching almost in defeat on top of a gargoyle that is covered in shrubbery while the sun sets on his side. Batman has a bow but no arrow which could indicate his aimlessness as well. It evokes an emotion of hopelessness as if Batman himself has been weighed down by something so heavy he can't stand anymore. And yet hope is on the horizon as signified by the sun rising. It's really a moving illustration and one that paints the events inside this comic book issue so accurately.

This has got to be the most exciting issue since #24 of the Zero Year line-up. Batman is on a roll here, using only his resourcefulness and physical durability to outsmart and outplay the Riddler. The issue almost feels cinematic in delivery; with each scene focusing on building up suspense before the full-scale action that comes next. Lucius Fox, Jim Gordon and Batman assemble together to take down the Riddler which means they need to play their cards right. First on the agenda is to locate him so they can confront him--and boy it ain't an easy task, not when Batman has to perform a riddle in front of Nygma and stretch the conversation for NINETEEN FUCKING MINUTES until Fox finds the exact location of the Riddler's lair while Gordon climbs a tower to boost the tracker. And those nineteen minutes consisted of really witty dialogue and a what-the-fuck-ery moment when Batman ends up getting ejected below to face TWO LIONS. And yes, you are not mistaken. I did write that sentence in all seriousness.

I mean, I mentioned before in my review of the last issue that there's something very fairy-tale-like about the Savage City arc, and now we get something medieval when Batman has to fucking wrestle lions while still waiting for Fox to locate that goddamn signal. My only issue has to be that moment when Gordon jumps down from the tower to help Batman out. HOW HE SURVIVED THAT FALL WITHOUT ANY BROKEN BONES is beyond me but I can overlook that, er, defying act of physics, because I just enjoy the mental sparring occurring between Edward and Bruce as they try to psychoanalyze each other. Batman hits the mark but the Riddler doesn't which is understandable. Who would've guessed that Batman is no other than the orphaned and prodigal Wayne heir who came back after being presumed dead? I wouldn't be able to make that connection but I did expect the Riddler to be smarter which only goes to show that when it comes to human beings, he treats them as games not puzzles which is why he might not ever figure out who Batman is. It's absurdity at its finest, managing to be over-the-top yet very entertaining anyway. Let's look at some of the illustrations, shall we? Like Batman wearing a tight shirt over his body while riding a motorcycle (because hot damn, am I right?):

Batman drinking gasoline and using a lighter to spray fire on a lion's face:

And Batman wrestling the burned lion (poor baby):

If you did not enjoy any of that, then you have no soul.

There really is nothing more to say. This issue has great suspense, pacing and visual style that once and for all prove that Scott Snyder and co. know their material well, and how much more they can tweak and add a little spice of their own that will be satisfying and engaging for Batman fans. I can't believe we only have two more issues of this left!


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