Saturday, October 17, 2015

Batman #43 Review: Does the New Batman Finally Bloom?

By: Nicole D'Andria

This is the most promising issue yet featuring the new Batman. It gives me hope that the series will bloom into something wonderful. But there are still a couple thorns here and there. Warning, after this sentence there will be some SPOILERS for the previous couple of issues, including the identity of the current Batman, and minor spoilers for this issue if you haven’t seen the preview for it.

This is the third issue featuring Commissioner Gordon, now Batman. He is coming to Bruce Wayne for his help capturing the villainous Mr. Bloom. However, Mr. Wayne isn’t quite the man Gordon thought he was. So he decides to take on Mr. Bloom alone.

It felt like kind of a cheap shot that the last issue ended with Gordon confronting Bruce Wayne, saying he wanted to talk about Batman, teasing the reader into thinking maybe Gordon finally figured out Bruce is Batman… and instead going in another direction. However, despite the initial disappointment, the direction writer Scott Snyder goes in is a really good one. It leads to us finding out, through some helpful exposition and visuals from Alfred, what has become of Bruce Wayne. And what has become of him? 

So you confess to Bruce what he's kept hidden to you for (technically) 75 years? Good for you Gordon! Now if Bruce could only return the favor...

I won’t spoil the details, but it is a very interesting concept and a great excuse to keep Bruce out of the cowl and still around for when he finally returns (because if Superior Spider-Man taught us anything, you can’t keep the original out of the mask for long). Alfred has this conversation with Clark Kent aka Superman. I’m surprised by his cameo here since I feel literally anyone could have been Alfred’s exposition dumpee. Alfred also tells him about Batman’s last invention, which has great possibility for future stories and says something about Batman’s psyche.  

A big thing about this issue that has even non-comic book fans talking is the new Batman villain, Mr. Bloom. Because a new Batman should get a new bat-villain, right? He is apparently giving out seeds to people which give them powers. Not much is known about Mr. Bloom, so there is still a nice level of mystery surrounding his character. The only problem with that is his personality is, as of yet, undefined. However, that is somewhat made up for when at the end of the issue he causes a striking cliffhanger that will have you anxiously awaiting Batman #44

Here's an example of Bruce looking bored. Plus his new love interest. Maybe that's why he looks so bored?

Greg Capullo is a fan favorite artist who has worked on Batman for a long time. His artwork is a staple of the series and there are a lot of people who really enjoy it. In this issue he’s joined by inker Danny Miki. I’m honestly not the biggest fan of Capullo’s work but it’s by no means bad. Especially with the work done on Mr. Bloom. The splash page at the end is especially creepy and effective. However, sometimes I felt like there were wastes of space. For example, the first page has a lot of mostly black panels that slowly close in on a flower. I get that they are trying to open on an ominous tone, but I felt like they could have gone in a more creative direction with it. I also don't like the character design for Gordon. 

Still, the artwork is solid all around. Usually, the emotions are spot on but sometimes Bruce looked super bored… even when I don’t think he was supposed to. I imagine he’d look that way if he was watching Twilight. Then there are the colors by FCO Plascencia. They add a lot of vibrancy to the story at some points and at others a dreary color palette that fits the tone quite well. The flashback pages really stand out because of the way FCO colors them.

It may be better to start reading Batman #41 to see Gordon’s initial experience as the Dark Knight, but after reading a synopsis of the previous two issues you should be all caught up to read and understand this issue. I do recommend it if you’re curious about checking out Gordon as Batman and seeing Mr. Bloom. If you are not a fan of the new direction Snyder and Capullo are going, this issue could be a challenge to get into. But if you’re open to a change of pace, I think this is where things really start to get interesting.

The dialogue could work and the minimalist art style here is somewhat effective but... I don't know, there's just something I don't really like about it.

Regardless of my mostly positive outlook on this issue, I don’t know if I fully buy how characters act in this issue. I do agree that Alfred would act the way he does, but would Clark react the way he did to Bruce? Would Batman really build that final invention? What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.

I give Batman #43 a 7.8/10.

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