…a lot of what’s great about this book comes from how thrilling it is right from the opening pages. This is a comic that starts with Batman in Arkham Asylum, fighting an entire army of his enemies all at once, and beating them through the shocking plot twist of teaming up with the Joker.
That’s a plot that could’ve taken up an entire issue. With the slow-paced, spoon-fed style that’s been on display in some of the other DC titles, it could’ve taken up the entire first arc. Here, it’s done in seven pages.
It’s a pretty great way to kick off the book, and one that does a great job of setting the tone for how this story’s going to play out, especially in how it signals a shift in Snyder’s storytelling. For as long as I’ve been reading Batman comics, there’s been this idea that Detective Comics should be darker and more crime-oriented, while Batman is the super-hero action title. Of course, it’s not like Snyder’s run on Tec didn’t have its share of that stuff — I mean, it is a comic where Batman exploded out of a parking garage so that he could catch a dude who was running away on robot legs — but what he’s doing here takes it to the next level.
More than that, though, it illustrates the theme that Snyder’s working to build — namely, that this is Batman at the top of his game. After all, a battle against a gauntlet of enemies after a mass breakout at Arkham Asylum was the exact thing that ran Batman so ragged in the past that he got his back broken in Knightfall. Here? Seven pages. This is Batman at his prime, a guy who’s already dealt with those enemies and emerged triumphant — so by page eight, we already know that whatever shows up next, whatever can challenge him, must be something truly fearsome. And we know all this without Snyder ever having to say it. He and Capullo shows us, and they do it in the most exciting way possible.
Which brings me to the art, and I’ll admit it: I was a naysayer. To be honest, I’ve never been all that familiar with Capullo’s work in the past. I don’t think I’ve ever read an issue of Spawn, the comic he’s most well-known for, but I do have distinct memories of seeing him in one of those old Wizard how-to-draw articles when I was a teenager and not caring for it one bit. So as dumb as that may sound, that’s what informed my expectations for this comic, and I did not expect it to be any good at all.
So brace yourselves, because I don’t say this often: I was wrong.
…Capullo nails it. He and Glapion do work in this comic that’s beautifully dynamic, and the facial expressions and body language he gives to characters are incredibly expressive.
He’s got the perfect amount of exaggeration in his cartooning that makes his characters fun to look at, even when they’re just walking through a crime scene.
And more importantly, I love the way he draws Batman.