DC Relaunch Review: Batman #1 by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo

Batman #1

Written by Scott Snyder

Art by Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion, and FCO Plascencia

Batman #1 is upon us and that even feels weird to say, but with the DC relaunch, even that comic begins again under Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo.  Snyder was already writing Batman, although before now he was writing Dick Grayson under the cowl, not Bruce Wayne, and won such critical acclaim that there was an actual outcry when it was revealed that Bruce was reclaiming the cowl, leaving Dick under another writer as Nightwing once more.  Greg Capullo is the former Spawn artists with a really cool, mainstream style, but not anyone who would be mimicking the creativity and layouts of Jock and Francesco Francavilla, so concern for this issue, given historical and editorial decisions, was abnormally high.  Well, we needn’t have worried.

 

What we get with this issue is a fairly straight Batman story with, naturally, Bruce Wayne under the cowl.  Snyder appears to be one of the few writers who can handle Bruce’s internal monologue while in costume or out without neutering either of the parts of his personality or going overboard into making him impossible to relate with.  As such, like Dick was previously, Bruce is the point-of-view character, as we see him go through a standard adventure, a period as Bruce Wayne, then set up a long-term plot and subplot.

 

The issue begins with costumed action, as Batman stops an Arkham riot.  That’s mostly a cool action scene, but sets up both a nice, if obvious, fake out moment and two themes for the issue.  The first, since a guard has been corrupted, is trust, and the second is a “Gotham is…” idea as both Batman and Bruce try and shape what the city is and could be.  This sets up Bruce announcing that he’ll be pouring money into renovating the city.  Apparently, Gotham will be just as much a character in Batman comics as it ever was.  This set up also gives us a nice tour through the supporting cast – we see the 3-former Robins who are still with Batman, Alfred, and Commissioner Gordon.  Setting up everyone Batman trusts in a row that way is a nice way to set up the murder with evidence planted about one of those he trusts – an interesting cliffhanger.  Obviously, this character isn’t suddenly a murderer, but there’s enough set up and foreshadowing for what’s going on to still be an effective mystery.

 

Capullo’s art was never going to be as new and experimental on this book as what came before, but it’s really hard to hold that against him when what is here looks go effective and clear.  While there is a rushed spot or two, there is also an excellent use of shadow, really cool looking characters and moments, and a genuinely great amount going on.  This is a top notch mainstream comic the way you’d expect a top notch mainstream comic to look.  There’s definitely a bit of 90s inspiration, but as much as Image, that appears to come from Batman the Animated Series, and, really, who could complain about that?

 

Overall, this is a great reintroduction to Bruce Wayne as the Batman of Gotham and his status quo within the city and with those he cares most about.  With that, we not only have a strongly plotted book, but one with just enough suspense to keep it from becoming too predictable.  There’s also some solid thematic depth, and while it does get a bit heavy handed with it, it’s also important enough to the character himself to be relevant and necessary.  The only real flaw here, if you can even call it that, is that the small cliffhangers and overarching mystery don’t seem too suspenseful, but the explanation should still be of interest to anyone who cares at all about the character.  Rating: 9/10.

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