Written by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV
Art by Greg Capullo, Kelley Jones, Danny Miki, and FCO Plascenscia
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: October 8, 2014
With the events of “Zero Year” now having passed, writer Scott Snyder brings the Bat-verse up to speed in the first page of this thirty-fifth issue of the New 52 Batman title. The time jump narration coincides with one of the things Snyder works best with: Greek drama and Gotham’s physical buildings. The opening comments which connect Batman, the Oresteia, and Gotham City together are, as usual with Snyder’s plot-weaving, great fun all around.
The main thrust of the narrative in the pages of Batman #35 starts what is to be the called the “Endgame” storyline. While I won’t spoil the best bits of this comic (I was unaware of what/who the plot was meant to focus on in advance, so the ending is something I won’t reveal), the dominant idea is visible just by the cover: Batman has to fight the Justice League.
Snyder acknowledges that he has enjoyed the amazing JLA: Tower of Babel and that he is working in his own vision for the age-old Bat-fan question: can Batman take on the Justice League and win? Snyder’s answer with Batman #35 is one worth reading for yourself, but he does take great pains to stress the potential plausibility for how a battle between Batman and Wonder Woman might go down. Sure, some might argue against the ‘Bat Prep-Time’ issue, but that is part and parcel to what makes comics fun.
Batman #35 has some great elements which are fun to see put into practice again after “Zero Year,” little things such as his Court of Owl trophies or his bunker which has been set up on the 13th Floor of Wayne Tower (apparently an older bat-plot element but certainly one good to see made use of here). The comic is not much for being a slow-burn as the story very quickly and violently sets up Bruce’s conflict with his friends.
The pacing of how we get into this fight is poorly designed, however. The comic starts with an image mean to excite, then it cuts to an ominous page meant to hint at a meta-narrative connection to Future’s End/Crisis content (?), and then the plot is picking up 30 minutes before the previously mentioned ‘excitement’ page. Taken together, these three pages all seem like they come from completely different books with their own plots. After re-reading Batman #35, the time-reversion element was less jarring, but the idea to even do such thing is very strange.
Greg Capullo and Danny Miki bring their usual A-Game to this fantastic first round in the “Endgame” storyline. Each member of the Justice League is depicted in their most iconic New 52 forms, with all the regal bearing these characters deserve. None of them are drawn as if possessed or deranged (save for one very special moment which you need to read to believe) and this all goes into the notion that they really are trying to kill Bruce. Often the ‘corrupted friend’ troupe gives itself away with forced expressions of evil or malice, but the art excellently conveys how powerful and righteous the Justice League can be when they believe they need to do what must be done in battle. Unfortunately for Bruce, this means they really do want his head.
The art from Capullo and Miki also gets to pull overtime on something not common in Bat-books: a bat mecha. Batman’s custom build battle-tank (hilariously called a ‘League Buster’ by one character) is a seriously fun creation that is wonderfully depicted in battle with the Justice League. The art with this set-piece particularly shines when shown in one-on-one combat against Wonder Woman.
Unfortunately, while I acknowledge that a Batman vs. the Justice League plot is in itself rather comic-booky (and fun!), the Bat-mech does bring up a completely ludicrous moment when shown in battle with the Flash that needs to be pointed out. Snyder’s intent was to show how capable Batman can be, even against a character who can move faster than his opponent can think. Using the means that Batman does to pull off maneuver in battle with the Flash pushes the ‘Batman is a guy without powers’ idea to its breaking point. Powers or not, no person, not even a billionaire can design that plot device that bat-mech pulled off. It is not a huge aspect to the story but it was a bit jarring. In hindsight, this plot point is still fun, but (like the page layout issue that was mentioned earlier) it can seriously cause one to stop and think about what they are reading.
Praise must also be given to the Capullo for his city designs. While this might not seem like the most obvious thing to highlight, the art designs for the 13th Floor, the gas-shrouded Gotham cityscape, and for the beautiful theatre sequences are great. Snyder’s vision of a living, active and plot-centric Gotham truly shines because of the spectacular artists he has helping him pull off his ideas.
The final few pages of the comic, as has been done with some of Scott Snyder’s Bat-comics before, focuses on a side-story, this time one written by James Tynion IV with a (intentionally?) strong Halloween-vibe. The idea of a group of escaped Arkham inmates all telling their stories about a famous Bat-villain is a creepy concept, one made even more macabre by the art of Kelly Jones. While the comic itself seems to be a build-up for the stories these inmates will be spending the next five issues telling, one series of panels horrifically depicts a Bat-villain in a way never before imagined. With some retrospective, readers might also draw some ghoulish parallels behind the images in this side-story and the final image of the main book itself.
The Verdict: 9.0/10