At the end of this issue, I groaned a little on the inside. Why? Because it’s essentially ripped directly from Frank Miller’s Year One. Now that I’ve thought about it though, I actually enjoy that scene a lot more. I do think that Scott Snyder could have done something more original (he’s already proven he’s capable of it), but that scene is so well done, and so iconic, I’m actually glad that he didn’t change it. Sure, tons of people are going to bitch about it, but I don’t care, because I enjoyed it. Still, craft wise, it wasn’t exactly the best move for Snyder to make.
But leading up to that, this is a brutal, dark issue of Batman, just as I predicted. Bruce gets the crap beaten out of him by the Red Hood Gang (He takes a mace to the shoulder!), and even though I should be depressed, I can’t be because Capullo’s art is gorgeous. It’s already been said, but man, he’s probably one of the best artists out there right now. Plus, Rafael Albuquerque, so you’ve got not one, but two of the best artists in the business on this book.
There are two scenes in this book that I really loved. First, there’s the Riddler stuff. Snyder writes a great Riddler (actually, he writes a great anyone, but man, his Riddler is awesome). And he doesn’t underplay Riddler. It’s hard not to, since he’s such a formulaic villain, but these are the early days, before Nygma even becomes the Riddler, and Snyder takes full advantage of that. This is a full on re-imagining of him. Second is the scene that sees Bruce and Alfred making up. We’ve all just come to accept their relationship, but it’s great to see how they got there, especially with Snyder writing it.
As awesome as the opening scene is, I have to say that merging it with Bruce walking up to the manor damages it as a whole. The pages feel a little too claustrophobic for my liking, and it kills the suspense as well. I mean, we know he survives, but there can still be suspense there, and Snyder does something similar to what Morrison did in Batman Inc #13. In the end, it’s fine, since the book is so great.
Score: 9.2, Amazing
Aside from a formatting hiccup at the start of the book, Batman #23 is another excellent installment into the Zero Year epic from Snyder and Capullo. It’s beautifully brutal, and Snyder does a great job with all the characters, especially Edward Nygma. Plus, the back up is more stellar work from Snyder and Albuquerque. And… was that Talia?