New 52 Review: Batman #1

Scott Snyder will make a believer out of jaded naysayers with his take on Gotham City and the Bat-family.

Iann Robinsonby Iann Robinson

Batman #1

In twenty years, when the newest crop of young comic book writers talk about the scribes that inspired them, anybody talking about Batman will utter the words Scott Snyder in the same breath as Dennis O’Neil, Frank Miller, Paul Dini, and all the others that changed the game. Snyder gets it, and his inaugural issue of Batman for the DCU reboot should silence even the most jaded naysayer. Snyder begins tying together the work he started in Detective Comics and Batman: Gates Of Gotham, by bringing the one true Batman home. Bruce is back, and he’s ready to kick some serious ass. Not only is this the start of a new day for Batman, but also the start of a new and darker story arc from Scott Snyder.

Batman #1 kicks off with a battle in Arkham. Not just any battle, one consisting of all the rogues gallery. Two-Face, Killer Croc, Scarecrow, Mr. Freeze, pretty much everybody is here and ready to stomp Batman’s ass. Any other writer would have been happy to serve up this action packed opening. Snyder doesn’t waste the space, he uses and inner monologue to allow Bruce Wayne to re-establish his ties to Batman and Gotham. I also enjoyed Batman fighting alongside The Joker (fear not, it’s all explained inside). The rest of issue 1 unfolds with Bruce Wayne deciding to rebuild Gotham’s most distraught neighborhoods, as well as a grisly murder leading to a cliff hanger ending that is drop-the-comic awesome. In boxing terms, Snyder jabbed and jabbed, keeping us off balance until he could level us with the big right hook. 

What sets Snyder apart from his peers is his complete devotion to telling a great story. Nothing is left to chance; there is no fat in this book. It always feels like Snyder is stitching the tiniest details, bits of dialog and action into a grander tapestry than we can understand. He draws on all the details from all his books and lets that undercurrent saturate what’s happening in the present. Gates Of Gotham’s sordid tale of the cities beginning surely has grooves and scratches in the subplot of Bruce’s attempt to clean up Gotham. The work done in Detective Comics proved that Gotham can still surprise even Batman, something I think will prove to haunt the Dark Knight in coming issues.

The only let down is Rob Capullo’s art, which is very hit or miss with this issue. The opening battle is gorgeous, with strong movement and some wonderful detail work, especially on Two-Face. However the scene with Commissioner Gordon doesn’t work at all, mainly because Capullo draws Gordon to look like Groucho Marx-meets-The Triplets Of Belleville.  At one point, Dick Grayson looks like he’s about twelve, but then the murder scene Batman investigates is wonderful. Capullo really captures the dilapidated nature of the apartment and the brutality of the kill. I’m not giving up on Capullo because there is more good than bad, it’s just the bad really sticks out. Regardless, Batman #1 is cause to celebrate not only the return of a singular Dark Knight, but also that he rests in the capable hands of Scott Snyder.