Warning: This review contains spoilers.
Batman #35 is popcorn, superhero fun at it’s best. The cover teases a battle between Batman and his compatriots in the Justice League and, while said conflict does occur, there is more to it than meets the eye. In the three years since their run began, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have delivered what many consider to be a definitive run on one of pop culture’s most enduring characters. The arcs “Court of Owls” and “Zero Year” have been examinations of both the character and his relationship with the world in which he inhabits. Sandwiched between those, “Death of the Family” saw Snyder and Capullo tackle the relationship between Batman and the Joker, with his extended family caught in the middle. As readers progress through this issue – the opening chapter of “Endgame” – it becomes evident that Snyder and Capullo are combining the themes of their previous arcs into one big, sweeping, action epic.
The issue opens with an apparent chemical attack on the city, which serves as a callback to the recently concluded “Zero Year.” Capullo’s imagery – which sees hazy clouds filling the voids between Gotham’s skyscrapers – is reminiscent of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. By doing this, whether intentional or not, Capullo hooks the reader into the story through the strong emotions associated with that particular moment. Adding to it is Snyder’s use of news broadcasts to evoke panic and uncertainty in the situation. When the air finally clears, the revelation of Batman in a gigantic suit of armor – yelling at an unseen combatant to try to take his city from him – not only provides a fist-pumping moment, but a sense of relief as well. It is this toying with emotions that Batman #35 does best.
Batman #35 takes place following the events of Batman Eternal, but those that have not kept up with the Dark Knight’s weekly adventures need not fret. Snyder provides readers with just enough information to avoid being lost, without spoiling the events of Eternal. Yes, Bruce and Alfred are recovering from injuries, but that is nothing out of the ordinary based on their regular activities. As they share a moment of levity, it is ended abruptly when Wonder Woman crashes through the window and snags Bruce with the intent of killing him. Though it is consistent with the cover image, this abrupt turn of events remains shocking.
The resulting knock-down, drag-out rumble through the streets of Gotham enables Greg Capullo to flex his artistic muscles, though anyone that has seen him knows he likely flexed his actual muscles too. The hulking, mechanized suit Batman wears, though stylistically similar to the one worn in “Court of Owls,” is unique in both form and function. As explained in the issue, the suit is designed for combat against the Justice League and is fully put to the test. Wonder Woman, Flash, and Aquaman each take their shots at Bruce to no avail.
After more than thirty issues depicting the various members of the Bat-Family, it is refreshing to see Capullo, inker Danny Miki, and colorist FCO Plascencia tackle a more colorful cast of heroes. The vibrant costumes pop off their concrete backdrops in a near inversion of the darker characters amidst a psychedelic setting in “Zero Year.” Further adding to the enjoyment, he action itself is well choreographed and rendered. The impact of each punch is felt. Movements – particularly when Flash shows up – are full of energy. When the issue’s final blow lands, the reader understands the physical pain Bruce feels. That is only matched by the emotional pain of the final page, when it is revealed that this story is not about a mistrust or conflict with the Justice League, but a scorned lover looking for revenge.
Batman #35 kicks off the next big Snyder and Capullo production in bombastic and unexpected fashion. The back-up story by James Tynion IV and Kelley Jones is a creepy and dark follow-up to a satisfying reveal. It’s Scott Snyder week in the world of comics, and the superhero component more than satisfies. This looks to have the makings of yet another memorable story.
Note: This review was originally published at InfiniteComix.com