I’ve seen a lot of opposing opinions on this issue. I have a friend who absolutely loved it, yet I’ve seen other reviews of people who disliked it, or even hated it. Considering that this is Batman, DC’s best ongoing book, I find it odd that, for the annual, they would make the decision of having someone who isn’t Scoot Snyder write it. I mean, it’s not horrible, really. It’s good, but not much more than that. It’s really not something that I’m going to be throwing high praise at because, frankly, it’s nowhere near as good as some of the other books that came out this week.
I will say this though: At times, it’s pretty fun. Aside from the fact that Batman says everything out loud as he’s attempting to escape Arkham in order to test the security, those scenes are pretty cool, and this is the most fun Batman’s been since Dick Grayson’s time under the cowl. Other than those few scenes, there’s not much to really love about this book. Instead of breaking new ground, as Snyder and Capullo have been doing in Batman for the the past two years, this annual retreads other Arkham Asylum stories, including Grant Morrison’s masterpiece. I generally love Asylum stories – from Morrison’s Arkham Asylum to Rocksteady’s Arkham Asylum and all the others – but that’s because each if them are different, and do something different with the mad house and the characters that inhabit it. The Anchoress, however, is a bland, one dimensional villain. At first, she seems interesting, but she’s really not. Also, the Zero Year pages were shoe horned in, and completely unneeded for the progression of the story.
I do have one more complaint, and that would be the predictability of the issue. While parts of it are tense and fast paced, suspenseful book, but for the most part, it’s extraordinarily predictable. Even though the writing leaves a little to be desired, I rather enjoyed the art. At times, it was a little bit bland, but I found that, for the most part, the cartoon-y style added a sense of fun to the book that the author could only attempt to duplicate. But, from it’s predictability to it’s I originality, the second Batman Annual is little more than a (slightly) enjoyable side note from Snyder’s epic Zero Year.