Wednesday, May 28, 2014

SPOILERS: Batman #31

Gotham is still under the rule of Edward Nygma, needing someone to stump him with a riddle in order to set the city free, and Lucius Fox believes he can be the person... Well, he can try at least, as him recording a message to be left for his son Luke signifies his confidence in his ability to come up with a riddler to stump a man called the Riddler... but he gets recruited into a better idea to save the city.

Obviously, when we're talking saving Gotham, Batman comes into play, and he brings Lucius Fox into a meeting with James Gordon and the government agents that were sent into Gotham. They're planning on doing the whole trace the call thing on the monitor Riddler uses in his daily broadcasts, only problem is, they're going to need to keep the Riddler talking and broadcasting for a quite a few minutes for it to work. But this is Batman, and he's always got a plan.

So dusk falls, and it's time for Riddler to issue his daily challenge, and on cue, Batman appears to ask the Riddler a question. Riddler thinks it'll be a riddle about bats, but Bruce does the classic "who am I?" riddle, and clearly starts describing Riddler as a smart kid who no one paid any attention to so he's overcompensating in his adulthood. Riddler takes his turn at being a "couch doctor" and tries to describe who Batman is under the cowl, but misses completely. Regardless, despite thinking the attempt at an insult is cute, Riddler drops Batman into his pit, where there's quite a few hungry lions.

With things seemingly gone bad, Lucius and Gordon believe they should abandon trying to tap into the network and help Batman, but they're told to keep going, while Batman fights off the lions, which Riddler watches, thus keeps the feed going, giving Lucius enough time to track Riddler's signal. Then after the lions are beaten, Riddler drops a bunch of cars into the pit, but Gordon saves the day!


The Good:

Art is still spectacular as ever. I'm getting tired of mentioning it at this point! What I didn't mention in the write up were the flashbacks to Bruce as a teenager, clearly suffering from PTSD. This is an element of Bruce's past that I can't remember ever really being touched upon, and it offers up a new dimension to his youth which makes complete sense. You really feel bad for Bruce in the scene we get of him in school, and it's rare that we actually get to see a vulnerable Bruce Wayne. If Zero Year has done one thing well (although it's done more) it's that Bruce Wayne has really been humanized. Batman is treated this sort of god more often than not, so I really enjoy these moments where we a reminded that deep down, he's this broken kid.

The battle of wits between Bruce and Riddler was pretty good too. It was one of those moments where Bruce is kind of picking on the nerdy kid, but the nerdy kid is being a dick, soooooooo, go jocks? Just a really enjoyable scene, especially when Bruce tells Riddler he wasn't even close.

Also, Batman spits fire at lions, that's pretty rad.

The Bad:

I hate to say it, but Zero Year just isn't as crazy as it once was... Maybe it's just fatigue, but ever since this story moved into straight up original material, I just haven't been getting that special spark. The first arc was elements of Year One and The Killing Joke cooked up into something new, yet familiar, and that was awesome. Here, it just seems like extra side stories from that time. Yeah, the whole city is a post-apoctalyptic wasteland, but I don't know, just not as exciting as Zero Year once was, especially when the issue's main conflict is whether or not they can trace the call so to speak.

The Bottom Line:

At this point, I think Zero Year is like a new car you've had for a couple of weeks. It's still new and great, but the new car smell has worn off. While Zero Year continues to be entertaining, the spark and excitement just isn't there towards the end. What the book lacks in excitement, it makes up for it with the humanization of Bruce we get to see in his adolescent years, a period of time which I don't ever remember reading about. Even though we all know it, getting wrapped up in viewing Batman as a larger than life figure is still all too easy, so I'll take any chance I can get to have some great human moments with the character be told.


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