Written by Scott Snyder
Pencils by Greg Capullo
Inks by Danny Miki
Colors by FCO Plascencia
Cover by Capullo, Miki, and Plascencia
It’s amazing we are nearing the end of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s historic run on Batman. 48 issues in and I can honestly say damn near all of it is great. Capullo has not only excelled on the art, but has probably created a new staple in Batman’s history (this is the Batman look of this generation). Snyder has also planted his mark on Batman. The Batman lore is greater for his contributions and it will impact how future writers think of the Batman character. This issue does not change that trend.
In this issue we start with Bruce and The Joker. We find them on a bench on a park. Both of our characters have experienced memory loss and yet, have found each other in the park. Joker tells us that it’s the only place of solace he’s found in the city. A park, a bench, and the lake. Bruce tells us it used to be that place for him, but not anymore. The Joker and Bruce share a story about some fish in the pond who lost their tongues to parasites, or so the story goes. Before Bruce leaves, the Joker asks Bruce to stay for a moment while he shows him something. He pulls a gun and Bruce immediately shows us the Batman is still there. He goes into an offensive stance. Though Bruce’s memory of who he was is gone, you can’t take the Batman out of him. The art throughout this segment really shines. Capullo has always been great about expressing the emotions of the characters on their faces, but you can really see it in this segment. The moment The Joker pulls the gun and Bruce yells at him, The Joker has a look of shock and fear on his face that is amazing.
Even with their memory loss, their relationship remains the same. Bruce needs the Joker to push him to become the Batman again. In this segment, the Joker doesn’t know Bruce is Batman (that whole memory loss thing is kind of a drag). He tells Bruce a story of how he found the lake. He was looking for solace in the city, not for peace, but to end it all. He would come down to the lake to kill himself but he could never bring himself to do it. He found it almost sacrilegious to disrupt the lake’s quiet. He came day by day, but could never disrupt the lake. The complete opposite of the anarchist psychopath he once was. The old Joker would probably would have laughed at the irony. This section is told with some amazing panel work. Focusing on their faces as they converse back and forth, each one slowly wading in and out of shadow. Near the end of the segment we get Bruce running towards danger as they see an explosion in the city, the darkness gives him the mask he does not want to wear again.
Meanwhile, intersecting into this story, we have Jim Gordon, the new Batman, fighting the new villain Mister Bloom. While Bloom has Gordon beaten and captured, he yells to Gotham to rise up and destroy the city. Bloom wants to start over, he wants to let the chaotic “plants and weeds” of Gotham to overtake the city. Bloom states a garden looks nice from the outside, but take a closer look and you’ll notice it’s all plant life trying to exist and kill each other for more room, water, and sunlight. That’s what he sees in Gotham. How can normal citizens allow themselves to exist in this city next to criminal scum, corrupt cops and politicians? So Bloom says he’s planted his seeds (magic seeds that give their host some powers) throughout the city. He’s asking everyone to take them and help him start the city over. Take over the garden, claim your plot and push out anything undesirable.
Bruce is having an inner turmoil, does he become what he once was or does he move forward with his life? It’s almost if Snyder is talking to us directly here and making a commentary on comic book superheroes as a business. Bruce states, “But if it goes back, what was the damn point? If it doesn’t last, if it all just falls apart in the end and if it’s not more than just…just now, why does it matter?…”. It sounds as if Snyder is saying he’s made his mark on Batman, but has he? It will all go back to how it was before, once he and Capullo are finished. Are we ready to believe Jim Gordon is now the Batman… forever? No, but as Joker states sometimes, maybe, it’s not how things change but enjoying the change while it last.
The last few pages show us that maybe Bruce is right, things will go back to how they were. Bruce Wayne is the Batman, there is no denying that. He’s never not going to become the hero this city needs. He sees a child take a seed to gain powers to help the city, to become what the Batman once was for them. It is only then that he realized he never was the Batman because he wanted to be, but because he has to be. It’s not a choice he made and gets to make, he is this city’s savior.
And maybe that’s all Snyder is trying to tell us. Yes, Bruce is going to become the Batman again. The Joker will eventually become what he has always been. But hopefully they, Snyder and Capullo, have made something we can enjoy while it happened.
Marvin’s rating – 10/10