Thursday, January 19, 2012

Batman #5 Review

I have read a lot of Batman comics over the years. He is my all time favorite superhero and it has been a joy and a thrill to follow the winged avenger in all of his monthly titles and participate vicariously in his fantastic nocturnal adventures.
Throughout the years many comic book writers have tried with varying degrees of sucess to leave their unique stamp on The Dark Knight. Zack Snyder is sure to be one of those writers. Only five issues in to DC's flagship Batman title post new 52 and Snyder has already managed to craft a more epic and emotionally evocative story in a mere hand full of issues then other writers have done on there entire multi issue stint on the character. One can immediately gleen from the gravity and intensity inffused in each line of dialogue and thought square divulginging Batman's innermost feelings that this is a character Snyder has been waiting his whole life to get his hands on. And now having finally been given that chance, us readers are surly the ones reaping the rewards.
That being said, if I had to give an award for best issue yet, I would have to give it to issue number five which hit comic books this past Wednesday, the 18th. Throughout the first four issues, Snyder implies that the city Batman thought he knew on such a complete and intimate level may be in fact concealing a deep trove of dark secrets, particularly the existence of an incredibly secret society called "The Court of Owls" that has existed for many years and supposedly controls all of Gotham from the shadows. Think "The Bilderbergs" except even more dark and secretive, whose only proof of existence lies in the vague lines of an errie children's nursury rythme.
Batman's speculation into the Court's existence proves inconclusive until the end of issue four were he is attacked from behind by a mysterious figure in the dank sewers of Gotham and awakens in an elaborate suberranean maze somewhere in the bowels of the city.
As issue five opens, we see that Batman has been MIA for eight days and those closest to him are growing increasingly sick with worry while doing their best to compensate for the sharp rise in violent crime Gotham has been experiencing in it's protector's absence. The action then cuts to a haggard and exhausted looking Batman who has been fruitlessly navigating the Court's underworld labyrinth for over a week with no food, rest, or water. One of the lenses of his cowl is broken revealing an eye that is half crazed and bloodshot.
The themes of insanity and dehumanization are perpetuated further throughout the issue when, to stay alive Batman drinks water from a fountain he is positive is drugged and begins to hallucinate. Reality itself then seems to come unhinged as questions of what is genuine and what is illusion taunt both Batman and the reader as the maze appears to grow more tormenting and insidious.
Greg Capullo'ss urgent and atmospheric pencil work render The Dark Knight's fractured state of mind perfectly while the vertical and upside down page layouts amplify the overall distortion of reality being depicted. The issue ends in an act of violence so shocking we are left to question if it is real or another layer of mental deception.
Equally stunning, unsettling, and evocative, issue five of Batman was in my opinion, the best yet in what promises to be a truly landmark run on the character. With talented and passionate writers like Zack Snyder and Peter Tomasi, who is currently writing Batman and Robin (also awesome) telling these caliber of stories the future of The Dark Knight in comics looks brighter than ever.


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