Wednesday, March 12, 2014

SPOILERS: Batman #29

After a flashback to the Waynes picking Bruce up at the police station after him being caught in the theatre, and deciding they'll see the movie together, that storm seen in all the "Zero Year" tie-ins has finally hit the main book, and while Gordon is helping evacuate citizens such as Harper Row and her brother, he gets a call from Batman, telling him to go to Wayne Tower, where the Riddler is ready to take control of the city once the power gets turned back on.

Batman's plan? Well since, Riddler stole a whole bunch of shit to have what essentially is a skeleton key hacking device, that is amplified to take control of the city, hovering above Gotham in a weather balloon, Batman's got to get up there somehow... CUE THE BAT BLIMP! Unfortunately for Bruce, once he gets to the balloon, Dr. Death is there, waiting for him.

Meanwhile, as the Batblimp nears Riddler's balloon, Gordon gets Dan Corrigan on the line, telling him that they can't turn on the power, but Corrigan doesn't like Gordon, and doesn't care, so that didn't work. Gordon's only shot now is to find the Riddler, and just like Batman said, he's waiting in Wayne Tower, specifically in Philip Kane's old office. Seems like Riddler was waiting for company though, and has got some string tied to his finger. I could explain everything in detail, but long story short, after talking about the strength of pullies for a bit, Riddler attempts to drop that 10,000 pound rock Kane had in his office onto Gordon. Though it didn't smash Gordon to paste, the rock did create a giant hole in the floor which Gordon falls into, allowing Riddler to escape.

On the balloon, Bruce and Dr. Death go at it, with each hit Death takes, making his bones that more grotesque. In the struggle, Bruce looses his signal jammer, so he has to resort to plan B, after getting Dr. Death's bones tangled on the railing. As Bruce is setting up some explosives, Death talks about the song "Tokyo Moon" and what it means, as it became a tradition to use in his family, his father and son both using it. We learn that Death's son was one of the men who died during Philip Kane's sponsored mission to find Bruce in the desert, which... okay. And Dr. Death continues on to say the "Tokyo Moon" song's true meaning is that love isn't enough to protect people and... Look, I don't know. Eventually, the console blows up, the trauma to Dr. Death is so much that his bones start going crazy and begin to grow into him, evidently killing him. If the situation wasn't bad enough, it gets worse, as Bruce finds that the explosion wasn't enough to take out Riddler's signal... and then the power in Gotham goes back on.

So sure enough, Riddler takes control of everything in Gotham. Explosions everywhere, the cables tying the blimps (which Loeb is in) to the buildings are detached, no pumps drain the water so the streets flood, Gotham is fucked. Gordon manages to get to some safety and gets back on the line with Bruce, who is pissed off and going crazy, saying he should have taken the call and this is all his fault. What is he talking about? Well, that call when he was in the dessert. If Alfred knew he was alive, that group of soldiers wouldn't have been sent looking for him, Dr. Death's son wouldn't have died, which I assume means he wouldn't have gone nuts, which means none of this would have happened. So naturally, given Bruce's issues with blaming himself for tragedy, the fall of Gotham is mirrored with his parent's deaths, which wouldn't have happened if he hadn't had snuck out to see the movie.


The Good:

Here's what I don't get... some people complained about Batman #28's contents because they thought Snyder was giving Capullo a break and when you've got a job that people depend on, it's not like you can take breaks whenever you want... Those people are insane bullshit peddlers. Why? Because Capullo didn't take a break, and we've got two issues in one this time around, much like issue #24. More Greg Capullo art is always a great thing, especially when it's depicting a whole bunch of action as well as mass destruction. This issue is huge in the literal sense, as well as the figurative scale of what actually happens in it. 

Definitely enjoyed the juxtaposition towards the end with the destruction of Gotham vs. Bruce's parent's deaths. Snyder is definitely writing a younger, more unbalanced Batman, and to see him just beat himself up like that really reminds you that despite where he is now, Bruce is still just human under the cowl.

The Bad:

There are certain tropes to Snyder's writing, and one of them is heavy use of metaphor to avoid just regular lazy exposition, such as the "Tokyo Moon" stuff here. Sometimes those metaphors go pretty deep I find them a little difficult to follow, and trying to connect all the dots to how this ties to the character's motivation just gets messy for me. Reading that scene, I spent so much time trying to figure out why Dr. Death was actually motivated to do everything we've seen. He wants to save people with his fucked up serum, that Riddler helped fund, and there's this song about someone always watching and protecting you, but really it means that love isn't enough to protect you, and his son died looking for Bruce Wayne, so of course he's a little messed up, so everyone is alone, and Bruce Wayne was right to leave and abandon Gohtam, and that has something to do with him cooperating with Riddler... yeah, see... it gets a little messy. The worst part is, I can sort of see what it's getting at, but can't nail it down, which makes it all the more frustrating to me. Maybe I'm just not smart enough, who knows?

Also, I was expecting to see something hint to how Gotham gets to be a complete overgrown apocalyptic wasteland, like we saw in #21. Yeah sure, I get Riddler takes over, but maybe I'm just looking too far in advance, but it takes a lot of time for shit to get that bad, and one would think someone outside would intervene? I don't know, that doesn't matter to this issue in particular, but an idea as to what actually happened would have been nice.

The Bottom Line:

As with Batman #24, the second arc of "Zero Year" hits its crescendo with apocalyptic force. The action and destruction is high, with a second issue's worth of art to support it. As with any good Batman story, beneath the fights, explosions and mutilated bone monsters, there's a good deal of character moments to be had, especially with a younger, less experienced, and perhaps a bit emotionally unstable Batman. It's a dense issue, that's for sure, perhaps a little to dense in some parts, but overall, a very strong read. While it perhaps doesn't match the stellar conclusion to the Red Hood Gang's part in this story, which was full of plenty of winks and nods to longtime Batman fans, the conclusion to "Dark City" was like watching the best disaster movie starring Batman, that doesn't actually exist.



  1. I think the Tokyo Moon stuff is an obvious setup for the Bat-signal, right? An open void in the sky that proves no one is watching out for us... So Batman puts himself in that void.

    1. For sure. And Dr. Death's speech about protecting everyone else by protecting himself was supposed to relate to Batman's tendency to try and take everything on himself and not accept help from anybody. "Tokyo Moon" and Dr. Death's speech as a whole was supposed to show Bruce the dangers of that mindset. That being said, I do think sometimes Snyder has a tendency to have his villains spell out the big themes in grand speeches. I still think Snyder's work on Batman's been really great, but he could probably stand to lean a little less on said speeches. Then again, there are people who still take everything totally at face value even though he has the main villains spell it out in great detail, so maybe it's necessary after all.

    2. My problem is that he just that its a bit of a ramble, and could probably get to the point quicker. In my defense, I read this issue immediately after waking up, and just kept thinking "What the fuck is he talking about?" and looking back now, I can make a bit more sense of it, but it's still sort of bad guy rambling.

    3. Yeah, like I said, I agree with you. It's something Snyder's done with pretty much every villain he's focused on, starting with James Jr. and I always find it a bit jarring. I just think he's still quite good overall, and the themes themselves are pretty well utilized, he should just cut back a bit on the rambling speeches from the bad guys.