Reading a Scott Snyder comic is like sitting back with your favorite novel and savoring every page. You know that the next page will be just as good or better than the one that you are currently reading, but it’s so hard to go on. Snyder is a deliberate storyteller who wants you to read carefully into every phrase, dialogue bubble, and thought box – because there is always a subtle detail lurking in the text.
Batman #2, part of the 52 reboot, does a lot of things right about the Batman franchise. For starters, it doesn’t really reboot the series at all. Instead, Snyder has continued to stay true to the core characterization of Batman. While the Dark Knight’s costume may have had a military upgrade – the suit now has sharp points on Batman’s forearms – the character and his colleagues remain completely the same. If anything, this “reboot” – in particular issue #2 – has helped to add more depth to the famed Batman/Commissioner Gordon relationship as well as Bruce Wayne’s ties to Gotham.
The first page of Batman #2 starts off with brief history of the original Wayne Tower in Gotham. Bruce’s great, great grandfather oversaw its construction in 1888. Right away – without knowing anything about Bruce or his family – you realize that the Waynes have been in Gotham for over 100 years. Literally and figuratively, they helped to build Gotham. Alan Wayne is in architecture, which puts him in line with the Masons. The description also gives you a sense of Bruce’s age. We’re dealing with a younger Bruce. All of this happens within the first panel.
Snyder then proceeds to add a few Biblical references that will most likely have some importance in the future. For example, the tower has seven guardians to protect each of the seven train lines running through Gotham. It seems like an arbitrary number, but when Snyder is writing everything has significance. That reminds me, I have to pick up the second volume of American Vampire. If you haven’t checked it out yet, please do. Snyder really shows off his deft writing prowess in an original work.
When you turn to the second page of Batman #2, Bruce gets knocked out of a window. Once again, we see the Batman we know and love. The descriptions of Gotham’s history are all in Batman’s head. Yet, he’s totally calm and calculating just as he’s being thrown out of the window. Instead of panicking, he is thoughtfully analyzing how he was just thrown through “unbreakable” glass. The story then jumps back to 24 hours earlier. It’s Batman on a motorcycle against a helicopter. He’s gutsy and cocky all at once. Greg Capullo pencils a slight smirk on Batman’s face as he makes a very unpredictable move to take down the bad guys. While he takes down these unnamed villains, Batman chats calmly with Alfred, assuring his butler that the Dark Knight will be on time for his meeting with Gordon.
Back at the Batcave, Dick Grayson calls attention to a new Batman tool – a Photogrammetric Scanner – being used at the morgue. Batman is able to analyze bodies from the comfort of his cave.
This issue introduces a new threat in the Batman mythos – The Court of Owls. They want Bruce Wayne dead. Why? We have no idea? This phantom organization apparently exists in Gotham, even though everything Bruce knows about the city his family built would say otherwise. Although little information is given about this new threat, we do know that its assassins look like ninjas with goggles and claws. They also may be using some kind of augmentation to be virtually invincible.
Capullo’s artwork does a nice job of complementing Snyder’s writing. In American Vampire, Snyder always went for very visceral scenes. Capullo nimbly shifts between cartoony reactions to bloody illustrations. There are three superb pages of Bruce getting knifed. On one, Capullo pencils an extreme close-up of Bruce’s teeth, with blood flying everywhere. Two pages later, there is an amazing up angle shot of Bruce standing on top of a gargoyle with knives protruding from his body. It’s always great to see Batman in this kind of pose, like on the cover of the iconic Jim Lee Batman. However, to see Bruce in this similar pose riddled with blood is a visual treat.
If you haven’t checked out the new Batman series, you’re missing out on one of the best stories at DC. This is “THE” DC book of the Fall.
Note: This issue also contains a preview of Batman Noel, a deluxe graphic novel scheduled for November release. Story and art are by Lee Bermejo.