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New city, same shade of gray... but not for a lack of trying.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

SPOILERS: Batman #22


Once again, Bruce finds himself at odds with the Red Hood gang, in a blimp meant for the Falcone family and the Penguin, only Penguin is tied up, and Bruce has miraculously disguised himself as Ozzy. As one would expect, things go bad, and Bruce is eventually discovered, all while learning that the Red Hood gang now has access to some Wayne Tech weaponry, which is not a good thing. Despite Bruce's constant interference, the Red Hood leader (who exhibits some recognizable qualities) admits he's taken a liking to Bruce, and offers a position in his organization to him... Bruce declines the Red Hood position, but helps himself to some of the leader's blood and gets himself (and the real Penguin) to safety.

Later that night, Bruce speaks to Alfred about his personal "war," mentioning everything from not being able to get a hit on the Red Hood's DNA, to the gang's use of Wayne Tech weaponry. Bruce can tell that Alfred wants to say something, and eventually gets it out of him. Alfred takes issue with the cowardice Bruce is exhibiting in his "war." Alfred tells Bruce that his parents fought for Gotham out in the open, and did it with pride, meanwhile he's acting as a "ghost," refusing to come out of hiding, reclaim his parents' company, and waging a vigilante war against criminals, all of which Alfred ultimately believes the Waynes would be ashamed of. Bruce fires back at Alfred telling him who's the coward when he's risking his life while Alfred polishes silver at a abandoned "mausoleum." Alfred's response? A swift smack to Bruce's face, followed by him walking out, and going home. With many issues still at hand, Bruce calls his Uncle and asks to meet.

Philip tells Bruce to meet him at the Gotham museum at midnight. Bruce finds his uncle waiting and tries to discuss the Red Hood's acquisition of Wayne Tech weaponry, and suggests they shut the division down until they can find out who the inside man is. Philip can't do that and asks Bruce once again if he'll return to the company, saying they could discuss this all then, but Bruce still refuses, which causes Philip to play his hand...

The lights turn on, and there's a surprise welcome home party for Bruce, and the media has been invited. Bruce isn't too happy and immediately tries to leave through a different part of the museum. Edward Nygma eventually finds Bruce, and introduces himself as Philip's advisor, but mentions Philip hardly takes his advice anymore. The two enter a little battle of wits, metaphors and perhaps a few riddles, which ultimately leads Bruce to believe his uncle may be the inside man to the Red Hood hang.

Bruce heads back to his apartment via a taxi, trying to call Alfred, thinking he's stumbled on to something big. As Bruce heads upstairs, the taxi driver gets out of his cab, puts on a the Red Hood leader's helmet, and is soon surrounded by his men. Bruce enters his apartment to find many "presents" and "decorations," and meanwhile, the Red Hood grabs a trigger, and makes things go boom.

The back-up sees Bruce in Egypt learning how to be an escape artist of sorts. The ultimate lesson he learns is to not rely on the possible, and aim to achieve the impossible. Bruce had entered his life or death escape challenge with a set of tech tools to help, but relied too much on their given purposes, which yielded no results. It was only when Bruce was forced to use his intellect and improvise, altering all his tools and combining them, that he was able to use them to find a way out, not thought possible with the standard way of thinking.

END.

The Good:

What is there left to say about the concept? It's taking an "old" period, and just completely flipping the script. As with last issue, you enter this one not knowing what to expect, then come out of it asking what the hell just happened, but remain really excited to actually figure it all out. Second issue in, and I'm no longer hesitant about this story getting too close to Year One, instead I'm pretty much just putting my hands up and going "Sure, whatever, let's do this" because it's so damn nuts! Familiar characters are unfamiliar, concepts never really touched upon are being expanded, and it's ultimately just new, which is something I'd never expect to enjoy in a retelling of Bruce's formative years.

The Bad: 

Two things... First, I know it's in the past, and Bruce is more rash and a hot head, but in no way do I enjoy him being a total dick to Alfred.

Second... the Red Hood leader stuff is getting a little too close for comfort. As said in my write up, he exhibits some very noticeable qualities of another character who needs no definitive origin. I'm not going to make any huge assumptions, because everything I'm worried about could just be red herrings, but if the Red Hood leader is who we all think it is... I hope it just ends up in an Ace Chemical factory, and us never seeing his face or learning anything more about him. 

Also, two little things to note. The back-up just seemed a bit short (more than seemed, it was three pages shorter than your usual back up) and I'm not entirely sure why the Red Hood gang is targeting Bruce Wayne specifically. I'm pretty sure they don't know he's the vigilante since he's hid his face in all their encounters. I don't know, maybe I should reread Batman #0.

The Bottom Line: 

I'm all in on Zero Year, and I'm loving it. Everything is just new, weird and interesting as all hell to read. It's been quite awhile since a Batman book has had me guessing so much about what the hell is going on. I think Batman RIP may have been the most recent previous instance of this feeling, but that said, it's quite a feat... I've read a lot of Batman comics, and this issue (as well as arc, so far) is truly doing something unique and daring, all while playing with fire by setting it in a time most Batman fans find untouchable. Just great stuff.

RATING: 5/5

14 comments :

  1. Now, I can't claim to be completely familiar with the recent Batman issues, but I personally think the "Jokerisms" are just a red herring. I wouldn't be surprised if Red Hood One turned out to be Bruce's uncle Phillip - it sounds to me like another Lincoln March, "the new character is the villain".

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    1. I think Bruce would have realized it was his uncle driving the cab.

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  2. I like to think that Red Hood will be someone totally new and the similarities with Joker are just bad leads

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  3. Wasn't Harvey Dent supposed to be in this issue?

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    1. Solicits are written months prior to production, things change

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  4. I think the leader is Lincoln March, and the Red Hood gang is either a front for the Court or this is him before he gets involved. I think he's causing all of this destruction because he wants to use the chaos to gain political power. . . Or something. Therefore, I don't think Bruce will catch the leader, only stop the Gang

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    1. I don't think the Red Hood gang has anything to do with the Court in any major way. The Court has their dirty work done by Talons, and that's pretty much it. Their MOs are completely different and contradictory to each other.

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    2. Well they both have members that are influential in Gotham, albeit one is force and intimidation while the other is by choice

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  5. The similarities to the Joker, drawn from all types of media, are certainly interesting. I'm sure it must be a red herring but they're fun to spot nonetheless.

    http://i.imgur.com/3iTbajo.jpg?2?7387

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    1. To be fair, it's a pretty standard trope http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sqz5dbs5zmo

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  6. I'm pretty sure the Red Hood Gang targeted Bruce Wayne because Nygma paid them to do it. As Bruce leaves the museum Nygma alludes to that being the last time they'll ever meet, implying he has some foreknowledge of what will transpire.

    And I actually think Red Hood One is a really cool take on Joker, I hope the possibility remains open that he's Joker although I agree we shouldn't learn about his personal life or see what's under the mask.

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  7. Everyone (me included) assumed Red Hood One was/is the Joker but given the way this last issue played out I think its Nygma.

    Eddie told Bruce's uncle to kill him. Uncle says "no". So Eddie decides to do it himself after realising how close Bruce is coming to the gang's exploits.

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    1. Again, the Red Hood was driving the taxi Bruce got home in. If it was someone he knew, he'd probably recognize them.

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  8. Didn't Snyder say it would tread on familiar territory with his twist? Id assume this arc will help reinforce things we saw from death of the family. We will get a chance to see the rouges gallery come together (Missing Harvey)

    So I would assume Red Hood is still Joker who is using Nygma, Kidnapped Cobblepot, and will probably mess up Dent?

    Plus the Blimp is ominous and reflective of Bruce's Flashback to Joker in DOTF!?

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