The Dark Knight is 75 years young today, so let’s celebrate by taking a look at two of the Batman titles out this week: Batman by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, and Batman & Robin by Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason!
Batman #33 (DC Comics)
This is it! The finale to “Zero Year”, the year long reimagining of the Dark Knight’s origin story from Batman writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo! After months and months of build up, we finally have the showdown between Batman and the Riddler, with the fate of Gotham City at stake. Obviously there’s a lot of hype around this final installment (so much so that I broke my “no more Batman reviews” rule). Hell, it’s even being released on the 75th anniversary of the Batman! So, does it live up to the hype?
Absolutely. Batman #33 is the finale we’ve been waiting for, and it perfectly wraps up every question we’ve had since the opening installment. Once again, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have proven that they are a dynamite team that goes together like peanut butter and chocolate. They compliment each other so well that it’s impossible to think of anyone else attempting this story and succeeding.
Don’t worry, I won’t go into spoilers, but I will say that the showdown between Batman and Riddler is extremely well done, if over too quickly. I had so much fun watching Batman attempt to solve Riddler’s conundrums that if it was the entire issue I would’ve been happy. Edward Nygma has always been a favorite of mine, and with this storyline he’s been catapulted into the top tier of Batman rogues.
The issue isn’t all just Batman answering riddles though. No, there’s still plenty of time to wrap things up for us after the Riddler is defeated (you didn’t think he was going to win, did you?). It’s here where Snyder’s script really shines, as he delivers some extremely heartfelt moments between Bruce and Alfred. The final pages of this issue are some of the most bittersweet I’ve ever read, and really show how much Snyder gets Bruce Wayne and Batman.
Batman #33 isn’t just a showcase for Snyder though. Oh no. Mr. Greg Capullo absolutely knocks your socks off with every page. He nails the tension between Batman and Riddler, and his facial work on Batman is so well done that you can practically feel the sweat coming off his face. Capullo’s Riddler also has that smug, “man I want to punch that guy” look on his face throughout much of the issue, so when he finally gets what’s coming to him, you’re all the more happier. I’ve already gushed enough about Capullo in past Batman reviews, but I have to say, I think “Zero Year” may be his crowning achievement. Every single page of this arc has been a knockout.
So there you have it. “Zero Year” is over, and with it we know have a whole new take on the Dark Knight’s mythology. I’ve loved every page of it, mainly because I firmly believe that one of the strengths of Batman is that you can put him in any kind of story. In fact, I think he gets stronger with more interpretations, and we’ve got a really excellent one here. Is it Frank Miller’s “Year One”? Of course not. But was “Year One” the same as Detective Comics #27 or the origin of Batman in the Adam West show? Absolutely not. “Zero Year” is another origin of the Dark Knight, and it’s pretty damn phenomenal, and proves that even at 75 years old, the Batman is just as resonant today as he was when he first debuted.
Batman and Robin #33
First things first: if you didn’t pick up Robin Rises: Omega last week, DO IT. Without it, you’ll be completely lost if you pick this bad boy up and start reading it (plus, it was a stellar comic that is completely worth the $5 cover price). Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason’s Batman and Robin #33 picks up exactly where that issue left off, with Batman taking shots at the Justice League, who are preventing him from travelling to Apocalypse to rescue the body of his son Damian. Writer Peter J. Tomasi gives Batman a ton of incredibly badass lines in this issue, and it’s hard to not see the other members of the League as bad guys for not letting Batman follow his dead son. As we all know, when Batman knows he’s right, odds are he’s right, and he believes he can bring his son back to life. He just has to go to Apocalypse and possibly face off with Darkseid to do it.
The scene then changes to the Justice League watchtower, where Batman has another confrontation with his teammates over whether or not he should be allowed to use his “HellBat” armor, which looks incredible. Major props go to penciller Patrick Gleason for the stellar design of the armor, which could’ve easy just turned into just another action figure prototype. Anyways, after leaving, Bruce is visited by Superman, who apologizes for what happened to Bruce. Bruce tells him that the League was right and the he can’t go up against Darkseid alone. Of course, once Supes is gone, we then follow Bruce on his way down to the batcave, where he’s greeted by Batgirl, Red Robin, and Red Hood, who have all been called there by Batman and are ready to rumble.
Peter J. Tomasi, like Scott Snyder, has a great handle on Batman’s voice and personality. It’s a little jarring when you compare the two writer’s takes on Batman, but Tomasi has been dealing with a very different Batman from the one Snyder’s been writing. Tomasi’s Batman is in the modern day, and has just lost his son. Seeing Batman deal with this loss has been fascinating in the lead up to this storyline, and between this issue and the Omega one-shot last week, Tomasi has been delivering.
Also delivering is Patrick Gleason, who gives us some pretty jaw dropping visuals this issue. I already mentioned the awesome HellBat armor, but there are plenty of moments between Batman and his teammates that stand out as well. Gleason really shines on the opening page, which features Batman calling out his teammates for not backing him up. He’s surrounded by this super powered beings, and yet even though he has no powers, Gleason’s art makes you believe that Batman could beat them all just by rage alone.
Batman and Robin is one of the most underrated titles on DC’s publishing slate, which is a shame, because it’s incredibly good. Right now is the easiest it’s ever been to catch up. The Robin Rises: Omega one-shot does a fantastic job of catching you up to speed on the life and times of Damian Wayne in the New 52, and it only came out last week, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find. If you’ve been missing seeing Batman interact with other members of the DC universe, or Damian, then you should absolutely pick this title up.