Monday, April 11, 2016

Batman by Scott Snyder issues #45-47

Okay, this is going to be embarrassing, but I want to disclose first that, last year, I planned on writing a review for the combined Snyder issues of #45-46 and was unable to do so. Instead, I ended up writing only Tomasi's Detective Comics #45-46 review before I took months-long hiatus from Bat-blogging. So now here I am, stuck on reviewing three issues together in one post because I'm simply too tired to discuss each of these issues in detail, mainly because--and I could not believe I am even saying this--I don't find Scott Snyder's writing nearly as compelling enough as before; and it has little to do with former GCPD commissioner Jim Gordon becoming the new Batman. Or maybe it does. Or maybe I've just been away for so long that picking up this title again has worn me down somehow and turned me into a cynic. Either way, what was that saying again? In for a penny, in for a pound, amirite? What a really disheartening way to write reviews! I'm very sorry in advance. Oh gods, please bear with me as I stumble through this review, hoping I can accomplish it as cohesively as I could. I won't make this torturous to endure, I promise!

The ongoing arc Superheavy deals with the supposedly weighty repercussions when Bruce Wayne finally retired for good (via absolute memory mind wipe) as Gotham City now now has to contend being protected by DC Comics' lovable good guy Jim Gordon who has officially become the titular hero of this series: the new and improved (?) Batman--a police-cooperating, corporate-ensured and government-sponsored 'vigilante' in name only, who alternates between powering up inside a tank suit known as a Robobatbunny, or costumed in sleek tights that make me a tad sexually confused because dah-yum, Gordon looks young and hot whenever he puts that on. Without the Batsuits, Gordon also looks pretty ripped and shaved in all the right places (WUT?), and I pretty much wasted two sentences describing my unresolved attraction with a character who had always been a strong father-figure archetype for me and never a sex symbol UNTIL NOW. What have you done to me, Scott Snyder?

It also doesn't help when you make him wear those white wife-beaters and is a ginger with impressive muscle tone for his age. Srsly, he resembles Walter Kovacs (a.k.a Rorschach from Watchmen) AND I SHOULD NOT LET YOU GET AWAY WITH THIS, Snyder!

So much spotlight has been put on Jim Gordon ever since he became Batman and all this center-stage treatment suspiciously corresponds to the fact that his character is the main protagonist of the ongoing Fox show Gotham. I have no complaints whatsoever because I've always been fond of Jimbo. It's worth saying, however, that as much as I still enjoy him being the focal point of Snyder's series, I'm also growing lukewarm about his TV show counterpart. The only thing that keeps me invested in him emotionally is Ben McKenzie's pretty strong portrayal of him. I don't agree with the decisions they have made about his character on-screen but I'm going to have to talk about it in my official season 2 Gotham review someday. Now back to Snyder's Batman.

Issue #45 was nice compartmentalization of things readers could still care about. I'm just going to refer to Jim Gordon as Batman as Batman Regent from now on, okay? I'm okay with this change much like I was okay when Dick Grayson put on the cowl for a while too, but Batman will always be Bruce Wayne even in spirit so I can't call Jimbo as Batman at all. So, Batman Regent got attacked by a bunch of thugs and it was an uneven fight. I was glad it was realistic in a sense that BR did get his ass kicked because the odds were against him. He recovered quickly enough a week later, though, which was less realistic and diminished a reader's tense expectation that he would have died after he lost consciousness during said  brutal confrontation. Another thing readers cared about while reading this issue was when Bruce literally destroyed anything that ties him to Batman and that...I'm not going to lie; that SUCKED BIG TIME. I didn't like that scene at all but I understood its purpose and relevance, including its inevitability. To soften that blow, we have another cutesy Bruce/Julie scene, which was nice. Mind-wiped Bruce Wayne trying to make a difference for Gotham's neglected children was a good enough subplot for me. I don't mind keeping tabs on the new Bruce.

The issue ended with Batman Regent trying to save some snobby rich people when somebody crashes into their party. 


Issue #46 has Mister Bloom murdering Gotham's elite in one fell swoop, often doing it to establish a point or just for shit and giggles. It was gruesome enough to make me care a little even though some of these people he was torturing are entitled snobs. They may be awful people in their own way but I don't think they deserve to have their deaths paraded in front of their friends like that either. In the middle of this clusterfuck is Bloom's overdue bad-guy speech where he bemoans and explains why he is doing the terrible things he does while just vaguely explaining what these terrible things are in the first place. He would take momentary pauses every now and then by murdering someone, either because they tried to run away and escape, or because he felt like their presence offended him so they must be disposed of. It's all fair game at this point. 

Meanwhile, somewhere less murder-y, Bruce proposes to Julie while they were doing mundane couple stuff in the bathroom. Then a shower sex scene happens off-page. Believe it or not, this scene was an acceptable break from Mister Bloom soliloquizing and inserting his disgustingly horrific long finger into a person's eye socket if he or she refuses to listen. On another location where nothing made sense to me because it was such a jarring change of setting, Duke Thomas (a side character featured back in #44) breaks into Penguin's Iceberg Lounge because of REASONS. I couldn't really focus at all with why he was there, and why he's wearing a knock-off Robin costume. I'm far more concerned with whatever the hell was happening with Bloom and the rich people and Batman Regent failing to capture Bloom afterwards than comprehend exactly why this confused and frustrated young man would try to play hero in the worst time and place possible for reasons I could hardly discern. Come on, dude, just let the grown-ups do their thing and be a kid, for god's sakes! I like you enough that I don't want to see you get killed!

We also get a possible origin story/motivator as to why Bloom blossomed and has targeted the rich. It's an ominous flashback in the most Snyder-esque way possible:

On the plus side, artist Capullo has outdone himself by illustrating yet again how he can turn any normal-looking thing repulsive and creepy. Before it was Joker's peeled-off skin as a mask. Now it's Mister Bloom's flower-face. It looked particularly sinister in this issue because it's alive and moving. It's much like Rorschach's ink-blots in his mask which change designs due to thermal response to heat. Mister Bloom's flower-face is as creepy to look at while it talks as that alien plant from the film Little Shop of Horrors. The issue ends with a confrontation between Bloom and BR who is out of his Robotbunnybat suit--which Bloom managed to control via electronic magnetic waves (?) and successfully turned against its wearer. That's the cliffhanger right there. 


Issue #47 opens directly to a fight sequence that packs enough punch and fabulous gadgets to make me overlook the fact that there was a small moment that hilariously defied the laws of physics and believability. But whatever. Batman Regent (good ol' Jimbo) is amazing because he doesn't give up and he's able to think on his feet. His courage and resourcefulness are resolute in the face of death. That's what Batman is all about and I think we should give him his due credit for that. Before I tackle about my opinion and feelings so far in Jimbo's run as the new Batman, let's get this bullshit below out of the way first: Geri Powers finally revealed her plans to expand the Batman brand in a most predicable maneuver that stems from her expression of corporate greed which aims to profit from the mass panic that Mister Bloom has just heightened since that awful party-crash last issue.

Meanwhile, Scott Snyder contradicts himself in the final scenes using the most frustratingly left-field revelation that made me a little angry as opposed to feeling relieved and celebratory. This reaction is tied closely to how I feel about Jimbo as the new Batman as well. Bruce Wayne tried to confront Duke Thomas with his extracurricular activities by trying to be a vigilante, but fails in a grand way because it was Dye who tried to school him. Apparently, the kid knows Bruce Wayne is Batman. HOW? SINCE WHEN? AND WHY? Um, is it because of Dick Grayson? I do recall Duke found out who Grayson is and as Bruce's former ward, I suppose he made that connection fast, eh? Secondly, he believes Bruce is simply choosing to not remember it and repressing all his memories and connection to his past life. But we already know that Snyder ensured that it wasn't just simple, temporary and plot-convenient memory loss--Bruce Wayne also lost his identity as that orphaned rich boy who became a caped crusader due to survivor's guilt and a dream to save his city. He is a new, different person now. I was okay with this. I was fine that he was getting a second shot at a normal, happy life with his recently revealed fiancée Julie. And as nervous and unconvinced as I usually am ever since Jim took the reigns, I'm still confident that he could be the Batman Gotham needs, and his progress through that greatness has been interesting to see unfold. So what in the damn hell is this cop-out, Snyder?!

I'm aware that there have been criticisms regarding Synder and co.'s decision about erasing Bruce Wayne's identity as Batman and Jim Gordon becoming the new Batman in his place. I was never a part of those bandwagon of nay-sayers and cynical fanboys. I was open to the idea of this kind of change and creative direction because why not? I trust in Snyder's skills as a writer and I have faith in his team because they have yet to deliver me a story that wasn't engrossing, emotionally nuanced and meaningful. But all of that hard work and sticking-it to the illogical fanboys and doubting Thomases seemed to have been undone by the revelation that deep, deep, deep inside Bruce's subconscious is the real Bruce Wayne just waiting to remember who he is--that he is the one and only Batman. I felt as if I was simply strung along with the false premise that things are going to a different and refreshing direction in storytelling only to face the reality that the writer himself is heading back on the familiar and safe route because he must have caved in from fanbase demand to bring back Bruce as Batman. I don't understand. I was on-board with almost everything about Synder's arc for Superheavy (even in spite of some plot inconsistencies) but now? 

Now I feel so deceived and betrayed with this sudden and sharp 'twist'.

I suppose it was inevitable. For impatient fans who just want Bruce back as Batman, his absence for eight months is already too much to take. I don't know. I don't want to talk about this anymore. Just let me freak out in a small, dark corner of my mind, okay?

And I ain't even touching that great reveal in the last page! I don't even want to acknowledge it yet until I get to the next issues. As far as first impressions go, I don't have any strong emotion about it except for this indescribable numbness that resembles both dread and elation. If you have read this issue then you know the reveal I'm talking about. I won't talk about it for now but it is a GAME-CHANGER in a way. Again, I know I'm reviewing for a few months late since there are already 50 issues released, which meant that this will probably not be considered a major spoiler at this point if you're reading. BUT IT IS FOR ME. So let me have this moment in the dark before my next review for Snyder's Batman.


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