BATMAN #1
Author: John Bierly
September 21, 2011
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SYNOPSIS: A series of brutal killings hints at an ancient conspiracy, and Batman learns that Gotham City is deadlier than he knew.

When Scott Snyder's DETECTIVE COMICS gig was initially announced, I remember being immediately impressed by the energy and thoughtfulness with which he carried himself in interviews. These were the days before he could reveal the book would be about Dick Grayson, and I found myself hoping against hope that somehow Snyder would be writing Bruce Wayne. When it was announced that DETECTIVE would be another Dick book, I was pretty bummed out ... until I read it.

Instant classic.

I can't take credit for Snyder's new job as the writer of DC's brand new BATMAN #1, but I feel good about being in on the ground floor of knowing (and frequently declaring) that this guy was the future of Batman in comics if DC would only let him be. And when Scott answered me a few months ago on Twitter with a smiley face when I wondered aloud if he'd be involved with Batman in the New 52, I knew something big was brewing.

As someone who gave the man A+ after A+ for his work on DETECTIVE, not even I could have guessed it would be as big and as bold and as fun as this.

The only thing I don't like about this new book is its cover logo, which looks too computery over Greg Capullo's dynamic pencils and veers more closely to "Banvian" than "Batman" for my tastes. And that's seriously the only negative thing I can say.

Snyder drop bombs on each of the first few pages. Beginning with Bruce Wayne's philosophical musings about Gotham against a backdrop of three of the most important buildings to Bruce Wayne's mission as The Dark Knight, the gears shift suddenly into maniacal mayhem with another twist that will keep you wondering and guessing -- assuming you still have enough breath left to catch.

Capullo's big, brawny, cartoony pencils guide as powerful a Batman as we've ever seen through a titanic take-down of an army of Arkham's worst. Then Snyder puts on the brakes to bring us a scene between Batman and Gordon, and the effortless ease with which he slips these guys back into their old routine is beautifully comforting. It made me think of the scene in THE DARK KNIGHT when Bruce goes out in the Lamborghini and is talking about every cops he sees by name to Alfred and Gordon. He's Batman. It's Batman's job to know everything. And this conversation between Caped Crusader and Commissioner hits exactly that same kind of note, with Snyder adding their friendship and familiarity to the damn-near-omnipotence guys like these need to have in order to keep any kind of edge against a city that finds new ways every day to belch out the worst kind of devilry. Compare this scene to the Gordon/Batman chat in the first issue of the new DETECTIVE to see what I mean. As a matter of fact, don't. It wouldn't be fair.

Snyder also uses one page to deftly define the new status quo of former Robins as the Wayne men prepare for their appearance at a fundraising event. Not even Scott Snyder can make me like Damian Wayne, but he does give Damian the book's funniest line. If I'm going to have to tolerate this nasty little snot, at least keep me entertained. Snyder succeeds.

More masterful writing occurs between Bruce and Dick in an outrageously cool scene that references a cool bit of Wayne tech introduced in Snyder's DETECTIVE run while teasing even cooler toys we'll soon be seeing in action in Batman's arsenal.

And, as always, Snyder treats every possible character combination and interaction with humor, history, and heart, processing every aspect of any two characters' shared past, passing it through an informed filter of everything the characters have experienced individually, and coming out with an angle that's fresh and new and true. I'd give anything to be able to write like that.

Snyder's Bruce Wayne will wow you with his vision for Gotham City (and it's right in line with Pete Tomasi's healthier-than-ever Bruce Wayne from last week's BATMAN AND ROBIN #1), and his Batman blows away any other incarnation we've so far seen in the New 52. Bruce Wayne is home again. So, too, is Scott Snyder.

Action, character, and mystery abound, with an ending that calls out a combination of something in the first few pages of this issue and an event another writer once wrote about in Batman's future. (The less said, the better. We can chew on that one on the BOF Message Board.) Snyder's up to something very diabolical here, so make sure you're on board.

Let me go above and beyond the call of clear here by saying it's not even remotely a slight against Greg Capullo that a part of me wishes that Jock, one of the artists on Snyder's DETECTIVE run, was drawing this book. I think he'd be perfectly suited to this story's atmosphere. But it's also good to mix things up. I said earlier that Capullo's style is brawny and cartoony, but it also comes alive in the details accented so well by Jonathan Glapion's inks and FCO Plascencia's colors. Arkham is dank and full of danger. Bruce's big presentation about Gotham is bright and beaming with promise. This is what a book should look like.

Snyder's story is called "Knife Trick," and it's every bit as sharp and as sneaky as its title. The focus is on Batman, Bruce Wayne, the reasons why they're one and the same, and the city that not only created them but may even now be plotting to bury them.

I told you Scott Snyder was the future of Batman. The future is now. - John Bierly

GRADE: A+

John Bierly still can't believe he
gets to write for BOF.
Check out JOHNBIERLY.COM to read about the other things he writes about.

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