Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Batman, Volume 10: Epilogue

 An end to the vastly overrated Scott Snyder era......

 Truth in advertising: Everyone on Earth seems to love the Scott Snyder/Greg Capullo BATMAN run but me, so take my opinion as just that...MY opinion.

 First off, this collection is either the most blatant cash-grab in years, or the most dopey "Rebirth" related fuck-up to hit the stands. This book collects BATMAN: FUTURES END #1, BATMAN ANNUAL #4, BATMAN #'s 51-52 and BATMAN: REBIRTH #1. BATMAN #51 is the only issue by Snyder and Capullo, and could have easily been included with Volume 9, but then fans wouldn't have been forced to buy this slapped-together collection of odds-and-ends.

 This is a typical DC collected edition, in that it contains a mishmash of issues that are strung together with no context whatsoever. The book opens with part of the FUTURES END crossover, just lying here by itself...no text page to get unfamiliar readers up to speed, no "Story so far", no clue what the crossover was about....nothing. The story itself is OK, nothing special. I'm glad I skipped this crossover entirely.

 Next up is the story from the annual, which is written by James Tynion IV, and takes place somewhere within the timeline of the last two volumes, and should have been included there. The premise is the amnesiac Bruce Wayne is taking custody of Wayne Manor back after it was used as the replacement Arkham Asylum (Don't ask. No, really don't ask, because DC provides no answers anywhere in this volume.), and is taken hostage by a group of Batman rogues who know his secret.......That Bruce Wayne funds Batman! This is a well-told tale, but it underscores a fundamental flaw with the way that Batman has been handled since the launch of "The New 52": How the hell has no one figured out that Bruce Wayne is Batman? I mean, his adopted son was unmasked on live TV and outed as Nightwing!!! His birth son was murdered, and Robin mysteriously disappeared at the exact same time! Then his son was resurrected, and Robin returned. Here, The Riddler makes a lot of noise about the murder of Bruce's parents, how it must have scarred him, how angry it must have made him, how much he must crave revenge....and the best he can come up with is that Bruce Wayne FUNDS Batman....????? There are some logic leaps that you have to make to enjoy comic books, and I happily make them. But they work better when those logic lapses aren't rubbed in your face as part of the plot. Major fail.

 BATMAN #51 makes a nice enough sendoff for the Snyder/Capullo team...Nothing special, kind of low-key, but it served its purpose. It did, however, help me pinpoint exactly why I disliked Snyder's run so much. (This theory also works for most current comics, which I have pretty much given up on.) The reduced page count and focus on event after event have forced out supporting casts, and, as such, we don't get to see our heroes in their down time. And if all you see is cataclysmic event after cataclysmic event, with no break, you can't help but be desensitized. The most attention that Snyder gave to any of the supporting cast of this book was to have Alfred's hand chopped off. Then he got better. Yay. Snyder destroyed Gotham three, three, separate times in the course of 51 issues.....How can anyone be expected to care, when it just gets magically rebuilt in between issues?

 BATMAN #52 is another Tynion issue, with a good enough premise, but.....they could have ended the series at #51. I see the symmetry of "The New 52" ending after 52 issues, but....cash grab.

 The collection ends with BATMAN: REBIRTH #1, which seems like just another Batman issue...New writer Tom King shares credit with Snyder, so it seems more like BATMAN #53 than a new beginning. King is saddled with Duke as Batman's sidekick, and it didn't have anything new or fresh enough to make me want to see what REBIRTH is all about. That said, DC sent me a review copy, so I will give it a read and report back...stay tuned.

 The collection includes a gallery of variant covers.
Five out of ten devil heads.
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