Batman #51 by Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo

Fifty-one consecutive issues driven by the same core talent – a true feat in the comic book world. This flagship of DC’s New 52 has retained its quality and ability to captivate from start to finish. Scott Snyder is a masterful storyteller whose vision of Batman came to fruition with thanks largely to Greg Capullo’s modern style. There couldn’t have been a better team to drive this ambitious era of the Dark Knight.

 

I previously thought Batman #50 was the end since it saw the conclusion of the ‘Superheavy’ Mr. Bloom saga. In all honesty, I was underwhelmed by #50 and the issue 49 leading to it. Everything leading up to it was so intense that I think my expectations became somewhat (unreasonably) high. The big finale was good, but nowhere near good enough to cap off the legendary Snyder/Capullo run. So how about #51? Was it a worthy end?

 

(potential spoilers to follow)

 

Batman #51 by Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo

 

 

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Yes, it was absolutely a worthy end.

 

Unlike the death and cataclysm you’d expect, Scott Snyder wrote an epilogue of sorts that gave us the exact opposite. We get to see the newly minted Bruce Wayne venture into the city when in actuality, nothing is wrong. A power outage throughout Gotham has the Bat assuming the worst. He visits every usual suspect to find that none of them are involved in the event that put the city in the dark. We get to see just about every villainous element from the New 52 including the Arkham crew (minus the Joker) right down to the Court of Owls mysteriously plotting something nefarious in Gotham’s underbelly.

 

As Batman searches for the culprit you’d expect him to see the worst unfolding in the blackout. Instead, he sees a man chasing after a woman and her child to RETURN her dropped purse. He sees families enjoying candle lit dinners and friends conversing without hesitation on a rooftop. He witnesses Gotham unafraid – a Gotham that is rarely shown. There must be a circumstance of fear or a criminal element For Batman’s justice to be served. In this instance, he essentially has the night off.

 

When I describe it, this issue almost sounds boring when it is anything but. Tension builds throughout all the way until the point Batman learns that the blackout was a natural occurrence. I really expected this to jump right into another storyline that will be explored by Snyder and Capullo’s successors (there was a little bit of that but it certainly wasn’t the point of the issue). As he moved from place to place and villain to villain, I never thought of it as a true epilogue so I anticipated things to go to hell.

 

The story is framed around little lines of white text in black boxes themed “Gotham is…”. I didn’t really get their purpose until the end when you see that an editorial column is unfolding. In this piece, a columnist receives letters from Gotham’s citizens finishing the sentence “Gotham is…”. He notes that the letters were originally a true reflection of the average Gothamite’s mindset – disturbed, dark, and depressed. However, the column contributions gradually transformed into something else. Hope began to show when there once was none at all. He notes that the people of Gotham are only able to feel hopeful because they have a protector, they have the Batman.

 

How often do you get to see Batman, a tortured soul by nature, happy? You don’t. And I’m so glad Scott Snyder left us with an inkling of hope. It was refreshing to end a legendary run in such a way.

 

My rating of Batman #51 is 10 out of 10. It couldn’t have ended with anything less.

 

10 out of 10

 

Seriously – go read it even if you’re not current with the story. I think I’m going to read through it again right now.

 

 

Batman #48 by Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo

Batman #48 by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo

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Two words can summarize the latest issue of Scott Snyder’s current ongoing Batman story – “HOLY CRAP!”

 

I hadn’t planned on writing a review post of this one… but it left me reeling to the point where I have to at least give it a quick write up. Prior to this issue, the previous high point in the Mr. Bloom story arc was without question Issue #44 (also my favorite single issue of 2015). That issue, however, was set apart in the timeline so it can be classified slightly differently from the other entries regardless of relevance. Now, with the release of #48, we have two highpoints in this new era of the Dark Knight.

 

It is very hard to say anything about Batman #48 without spoilers. I don’t think I would have enjoyed the read quite as much if I’d gone into it with any knowledge apart from what I’d gathered reading the preceding issues. To prove it’s worth your attention, I’ll try to highlight my favorite points in vague-ish bullet points:

 

  • Having a core villain portrayed as any level of sympathetic character is a difficult task that this issue executes wonderfully.
  • Bloom is creepy as hell. He’s like an abstract painting of the unholy lovechild created by blending Gotham’s worst.
  • The punches come quick and then ending leaves you drooling for more.
  • I suspect Scott Snyder sold his soul to the devil. How else can he be involved in so many great stories?
  • Greg Capullo’s style brings impact and life to moments that could be easily forgotten in the hands of a lesser artist.
  • Knowing the finale (issue #50) is so close seriously heightens the tension.

 

My rating of Batman #48 is 9 out of 10. If you’re not reading this, YOU SHOULD BE. It doesn’t get much better.

9 out of 10

Top 5 2015 Releases – Individual Comic Book Issues

With the 2015 nearly behind us, it’s fun to take a look back at the highlights from what came out of the year and get excited about what 2016 might bring. In regards to my ‘Top 5’ lists, please keep in mind that I am only going to list what I have personally dealt with. I’m not going to write opinions on something I haven’t experienced. Sadly, stupid adult responsibilities prevent me from spending every hour of the day reading comic books, building LEGO, playing Xbox, or watching TV/movies. With that said, there’s a very good chance I’ve missed out on something list worthy. If you think something is missing then PLEASE let me know! If there’s one thing the geeky community is good at, it’s sharing opinions. I want to hear yours!

Top 5 2015 Releases – Individual Comic Book Issues

 

I love supporting my local comic book shops. They are local establishments that are very reliant on local patronage to keep things going. This year I’ve tried to stress the importance of supporting local business and our regular visits to comic book shops have been an excellent resource. 2015 has brought multiple storylines worth following across several publishers. I’ve tried, and mostly succeeded, to keep up with the ones that really grabbed me. I went through my stack of 2015 comic conquests and picked the top five individual issues that stuck with me the most. This was not and easy task!

 

So here are my Top 5 favorite individual comic book releases from this year…..

 

(Slight spoilers for the current Justice League run – skip the runner up and #4 if you don’t want to find out.)

Runner up – Justice League #44: The Darkseid War Part 4

 

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I hadn’t planned on listing any more than five individual titles in any of my year’s best lists but this one was worth including. The Darkseid War story arc has definitely been an interesting one. Some points have been a tad ‘out there’ while others managed to satisfyingly hit on factors that make Justice League so great. This one issue is a stand out because you finally get to see the thunderous conflict between Darkseid and The Anti-Monitor. I was shocked to see Darkseid actually die! He’s come close in the past in fights with Superman and Doomsday, but this time he wasn’t so lucky. Seeing the Flash (possessed by Death/The Black Racer) punch through Darkseid’s chest like a cannonball was flat out awesome. Jason Fabok’s artwork in this entire series is phenomenal. He succeeds in bringing life to the clash of titans on each page. If you’ve missed any of The Darkseid War, and wish to check it out, I suggest you wait until the trade paper graphic novel is available. Jumping in mid-story would not only be confusing, but it would lessen the impact of moments like this issue.

 

#5 – Star Wars: Shattered Empire #2

 

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I’ve already done a write up of the full SHATTERED EMPIRE storyline so I won’t go too deep on this one. The series was good, not as great as many Star Wars nuts may want, but still good enough to read. I will establish the second issue in the arc as one of my favorites because of its battle scenes. Overall, Star Wars battles are fought in space (it’s right there in the title). The few ground battles like Hoth or Endor (the forest moon, that is), feature vehicles and weapons that are the highlight of epic toy fights from childhood. SHATTERED EMPIRE #2 combined all of those elements into a dramatic war scene with an AT-AT stomping through a city with a swarm of TIE Fighters and A-Wings overhead. A squadron of Y-Wings swoops in dropping a wave of magnetic mines that attach to the AT-AT like explosive parasites. It’s a very, very cool scene portrayed with top-notch artwork. I also liked the creepy post-mortem messenger sent by the Emperor to relay is final nefarious orders.

 

#4 – The Darkseid War: Batman

 

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The fallout from Darkseid’s fall reminds me of the clusterfuckery that followed DEATH OF SUPERMAN. Now the Justice League are “gods”? What the hell? Fortunately, some of the one-off stories work very well. Batman’s issue is definitely the standout (big surprise). It carries the strength of a one-off storyline while keeping ties to the current arc.

 

Now “The God of Knowledge”, Batman returns to Gotham to get back to basics. I love that he can still effectively be a vigilante will never getting up from his chair (the all seeing/knowing Mobius Chair). I respect any crime fighter that can do it while sitting. Extra-All Knowing Batman is more ruthless than ever and uses the Mobius Chair to give Gotham the hero he believes it deserves. I absolutely love how he handled Joe Chill. Rather than killing the thug who forever altered his life, he put the fear of “the boogeyman” into him in order to make the unpleasant realities of prison even more terrifying. If you come across The Darkseid War: Batman, be sure to pick it up.

 

#3 – Huck #1

 

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Mark Millar and Rafael Albuquerque make a great team. Millar has the vision and Albuquerque has the style to use all of the Image Comics prowess to create a unique experience. Huck, the tail of a simple minded hero in our busy world, is down right charming. His origin is familiar but stripped down to the core theme of doing right by other people. Superman, an oh-so-familiar orphan, lives two exciting lives in adulthood – one of a globe trotting reporter and also as the most powerful being ever known. Then you have the mysteriously orphaned Huck – a normal guy raised to do one good deed a day. That’s it! No ulterior motives, no gradiouse plots. Just one good deed for people who may not even know they need it. Thanks to his super abilities, Huck’s good deeds are often performed on a fantastic scale with the only thing asked in return is to not tell anyone it was him who helped. The story is a refreshing read. I can’t wait to see where future issues will take the gentle hero.

 

#2 – Superman: American Alien

 

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I previously did a full writeup of Superman: American Alien #1 and thus won’t get too deep into it here. It’s worth restating that this is a fantastic instance of DC thinking outside of the box. Their ability to take one of the most established characters in pop culture and find a fresh way to tell stories of his past. The second issue came out almost a week ago. I’m kicking myself for not getting out to the comic book store yet for a copy.

 

#1 – Batman #44

 

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I love, love this comic. One day I want to get my issue autographed and frame it (next to our framed/signed copies of WYTCHES #1). The creative team behind it bats a hundred with me and I simply cannot get enough. My review at the time it was first published goes into my reasoning deeper so I’ll try not to gush here. What I can say now in retrospect, is that of all 2015’s great comic titles, nothing could top the Dark Knight in issue #44. Jock’s style is one of a kind. Scott Snyder understands comics and what makes them great. Together they are unstoppable. It doesn’t matter if you’re up to speed with the current Batman story arc with the creepy Mr. Bloom – find this and read it!

 

What comics were your favorites from this year? Did I miss anything? If I did, PLEASE let me know! It can be very difficult to keep up with the never ending flow of good comics out there. I know for a fact that I’ve missed out on some highlights.

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