COMICS: Batman #31

'Batman' #31 cover art by Greg Capullo
'Batman' #31 cover art by Greg Capullo
'Batman' #31 cover art by Greg Capullo
‘Batman’ #31 cover art by Greg Capullo
  • Cover & Pencils by – Greg Capullo
  • Written by – Scott Snyder
  • Inks – Danny Miki
  • Colored by – Fco Plascencia

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BEWARE OF SPOILERS

When last we reviewed ‘Batman’ back in issue #23 (here) I talked about how story beats were crossing over with that of the seminal ‘Batman Year One’ and how this had to be an inevitability due to the nature of the story at hand… well let’s just say that almost all comparisons stop there.

In the almost ten months which have followed ‘Zero Year’ has taken us through a radically different interpretation which very many high moments and very few low moments. Where Frank Miller succeeded in telling an origin story based in a small, tight environment Snyder and Capullo have blown the proportions up to ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ scale without losing the sense of character underneath the epic weight.

We’ve seen the city fall in to ruins at the hands of Edward Nygma – a brilliant choice for an antagonist here – and Batman has been both built up and knocked down. The cover above toes a very close line between hope and despair and that perfectly reflects the emotions held within the books pages.

The coherence and consistency of the story are a testament to how well planned out this arc has been and it will be interesting to see where the series goes after it jumps back to the present day to catch up with the events of ‘Batman: Eternal’.

Some of the recent ‘Batman’ arcs have focussed on either the writing or the artwork, rarely has this title brought such a high level of both but ‘Zero Year’ has maintained that throughout and this issue is no exception. Pages here range from thick with dialogue to none at all and the interplay between the two aspects both excel in pushing the story forwards effortlessly.

The team of Snyder and Capullo has been top notch stuff from start to finish. Both have clearly learnt when to allow the others medium to take the lead.

It’s interesting that they have chosen to set a lot of this story during the daytime. Part of me believes this is a conscious decision to stand apart from ‘Year One’ but it could easily also be written off as a consequence of the story,  with the city under siege there’s no reason to restrict the action solely to nighttime in typical ‘Batman’ fashion and I’m not sure I can name a time in ‘Batman’ arcs past when this much time has been spent out in the daylight.

The daytime setting allows Capullo to bring to the forefront a great level of detail on Batman’s costume and gadgets that are often left in the shadows in other titles. Likewise Gotham City, currently not a shining utopia, gets to show off it’s gritty finest under the sunlight.

A mention should be made to the brilliant colour scheme brought by Plascencia. There’s a warmth to the book that at times can feel a little jarring but actually it just works in the same way that everything in this title works right now.

Dialogue flows throughout with characters echoing their future selves perfectly, everything has been dialled back ever so slightly to put us in the past and even Batman himself it not yet the emotionless dark knight he is in the present day and this is never more obvious than in the flashback panels in this issue.

The confrontation between Nygma and Batman is a classic meeting of the minds with each trying to one-up the other. I did give me flashbacks to the first time I watched ‘Batman Forever’ with Riddler up on his platform arrogantly waiting to solve Batman’s riddle. Whether this was purposely echoed in this issue or not the dialogue here is stronger and shows how equally matched these characters are at this stage in their respective careers.

There’s no doubt that this title is Batman and Nygma’s time to shine but there are moments to allow Lucius Fox, Alfred and Gordon to shine also. The secondary characters in the Bat-verse have not been forgotten here and there’s a team effort to this attack on Nygma which does again echo the events of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ but with a stronger sense of overall character. Here it doesn’t feel like the characters serve the story, the story serves them.

Sadly ‘Zero Year’ has to end and that end will come sooner rather than later so if you haven’t started down this path already start with the TPBs and get yourself up to date.

5 stars

About Neil Vagg 1212 Articles
Neil is the GYCO Editorial Chief. He has a BA in Film & Tv and an MA in Scriptwriting; he currently works 9-5 as an office manager and 5-9 as a reviewer/web designer. He has been subscribing to comics for around nine years but has been reading them as long as he can remember. Favourite comics: Batman; Nightwing, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and All New X-Men Favourite films: Batman (any apart from & Robin); Star Trek Generations, Underworld, Beetlejuice Favourite TV shows: Fringe; Buffy, Arrow, TBBT, Being Human UK and Star Trek TNG