Friday, October 7, 2016

Batman, Volume 9: Bloom

A fill-in superhero fights the bad guy, and the city gets wrecked. (Wait, which book is this....?)

 The Falcon is Captain America, Thor is a woman, Iron Man is a black teenaged girl, Spider-Man is simultaneously an adult entrepreneur and a young multi-ethnic boy, Ms. Marvel is a young Muslim shapeshifter, The Hulk is dead and replaced by who only knows, Superman is dead and replaced by another Superman from a different timeline....so, yeah, Jim Gordon in a mech-suit being Batman....? Not really unique or special.

 I remember when I was a kid, and I read an issue of THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (#199, I think...?) that ended with a flu-ridden Spider-Man chained to the bottom of an empty swimming pool, as Mysterio began pumping water into it. I was on pins-and-needles all month waiting to see how the cliffhanger was resolved. These days, if a storyline doesn't involve the destruction of:
A)- The city
B)- The world
   or
C)- The multiverse
no one would give a shit.

 So, once again, we get Scott Snyder giving us a Batman story that features the destruction of Gotham City. So far, in nine volumes comprising fifty issues, Gotham has been either destroyed or seriously fucked-up by:
The Court of Owls (Seriously fucked-up)
The Joker  (Seriously fucked-up)
The Riddler (Destroyed)
The Joker again (Even more Seriously fucked-up than the first time)
Bloom (REALLY seriously fucked-up)

 Every story arc these days has to have MASSIVE consequences, or (So the publishers believe....) no one will buy into them. They don't stop to think that, if Gotham, for instance, gets destroyed constantly, and is magically rebuilt in between issues....why should I give a shit? Death, destruction, mayhem....I've been hardened to all of it by the constant, crushing repetition. Instead of supporting characters and plot development, we get Alfred with no hand, and a new faux robin, in case the other thirty various and sundry Robins weren't enough for us. I've vaguely enjoyed this "New 52" incarnation of BATMAN, mainly for the crazy, widescreen action (This in spite of artist Greg Capullo's often incomprehensible storytelling), but I've gone from slight dissatisfaction with Scott Snyder's writing to fucking loathing it in the span of these nine volumes. and BATMAN, VOLUME 9: BLOOM was like the final, spiteful kick in the nads from the departing creative team.

 The last volume (BATMAN, VOLUME 8: SUPERHEAVY) established Jim Gordon as the new Batman, because getting a haircut can take thirty years off of a former Police Commissioner. It also introduced a new villain, Bloom, a kind of cross between Jack Skellington and Slenderman. This volume continues the Gordon/Bloom fight, and pushes it from weird to out-there to give-me-a-fucking-break. Bruce Wayne is still a happy amnesiac, and spends a massive amount of time talking to another happy loon who may or may not be The Joker. I honestly have no idea what Snyder was trying to do with this new (?) character, but I really didn't care. I was mainly wondering how they would end up getting Bruce back into the Bat-suit.

 Oh, boy.

(SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!)

 Wow. Snyder takes this volume sooooo far afield from what makes a good Batman story that I was almost (I said almost...) amused by how audacious he was getting with the outrageous trappings. Think of the most ridiculous, far-fetched Bat-stories from the '60's, then triple the "What the fuck???" moments, and you'll be close.

Bloom grows to Godzilla-like size and clutches Bat-Gordon in his hand. 
Batman has a back-up of his mind in The Batcave, and amnesia-Bruce forces Alfred to cause brain-death in him so he can download Bruce 2.0.
Bloom opens a Black Hole in the middle of Gotham.
Bloom turns thousands of Gothamites into Blooms.
A giant Bat-Mech fights Bloom in a scene right out of PACIFIC RIM.
Batman gets a new suit that looks just like every other suit he's worn.
Thanks to the new brain download, Batman might not be such a downer dickhead anymore, and thanks to the ridiculous Dionysium, his body has been restored, upgraded even, to a like-new condition.

 By the end of this dopey love-letter to property damage, I was exhausted. The villain is vanquished, the city rebuilt, the replacement hero been replaced by the original hero, who has been magically reset to an older, better version, and we have a potential new sidekick get called up to the major leagues. Same old same old.

 I've unconsciously been dropping more and more new comics, and gravitating towards reprints of older stuff, to the point where I'm almost exclusively buying reprints these days. Books like this do nothing to convince me that I'm making a bad decision. I suppose newer readers may never have read a "Replace the hero" story before, but, honestly.....almost EVERY major superhero out there was been replaced, is being replaced, or is about to be replaced by someone else. Can't an editor say "Yeah, I don't think we're gonna go with that storyline. What else ya got?" to a writer anymore? This was nothing but grim, loud, awful shit, and I'm really glad that I didn't pay for it.

 BATMAN, VOLUME 9: BLOOM collects BATMAN #'s 46-50 and DETECTIVE COMICS #27, and features a huge gallery of variant covers. DC Comics provided a review copy.