You know the drill. Spoilers ahead so stop now…
Truth be told I did not get as much comic book reading done during Snowpocalypse as I would have wanted. My ipad (or very expensive comic book reader) is so backed up on books right now that I might have to hope for Snowpocalypse II: The Awakening so I can binge read everything. Top of the list is Hawkeye. I think I’ve put that off long enough now. I digress. The one and only book I did read was Batman #48, and man was I glad I did. The Mr. Bloom storyline is really taking off now, and this book brought with it a number of crazy highlights. None bigger then the re-emergence of the Joker as… a regular person?
When issue #47 ended, Bruce Wayne was sitting on a bench in Gotham looking at a pond. It was one of those serenity moments. Since the events of End Game Bruce has no memory of ever being Batman which has been a fascinating read. When last we saw Batman he was in a cave bleeding out with the Joker as the roof caved in on the two of them. The fact that Bruce was alive was in itself a victory, but that last battle took it’s toll and the trauma was so intense that Bruce’s brain wiped out all memories of Batman. Think of cleaning up your lap top and doing a whole system reboot. Bruce Wayne 2.0.
There was a great scene early on in this story where Superman shows up to Gotham, and more or less tells Alfred, that if he doesn’t tell Bruce he will. Alfred basically tells Supes to stick it (suck on that Clarke) because this version of Bruce is him in his most pure form. Picture if Bruce Wayne’s parents weren’t killed, he wasn’t haunted by that memory, and never became the Batman. You actually would have a pretty likeable guy. That’s what End Game did. Stripped Bruce of all his pain, and restored him to being a person. As a reader I really liked the idea of Bruce Wayne existing as a human and not as symbol. Made for an interesting change of perspective, and also helped appreciate what being Batman does to the man under mask.
Back to our bench though. Bruce is staring off at some water when someone asks if he could join him, and boom it’s the human version of the Joker! It looks like the trauma was too great for him too and he also suffered a system reboot. Although I’m not entirely sure about that. The conversation that follows is laced with innuendos of this humanized Joker knowing who Bruce really is. The more and more that the Joker implies about Bruce’s past, the more agitated and thrown off Bruce becomes. It almost seems that Bruce is on the cusp of remembering, and the Joker is there to push him over the edge. The two of them have always been ying and yang so why wouldn’t it be the Joker to pave the way for the rebirth of Batman?
Else where Mr. Bloom, who I’ve really enjoyed as a villain, reveals his master plan in true mega villain monologue style. The thing about this was it didn’t come across as cliche. Snyder has done an excellent job of establishing Bloom as a monster, and that build up came to a head here. Whether he was ripping helicopters out of the sky, verbally shredding the idea of Gotham, or his treatment of Jim “I’m Currently Batman” Gordon, this scene came across as the perfect way to spring board Bloom into the legit status. Let’s be honest any villain who can throw the entire city of Gotham into mass hysteria is pretty legit.
The book ends on one of the more heartbreaking/blood pumping panels I can remember in a Batman book. Gotham is in chaos (again) and Alfred is holed up in Wayne Manor as some one is pounding on the door over and over again. Alfred is left almost cowering as the door splinters open and… Bruce is there demanding a trip to the Bat Cave. From the perspective of Alfred this is totally heart breaking. The man told Superman to cram it so Bruce could be happy, with no scars, living the life he was meant to live without Batman. For Bruce to show up demanding to be taken to his cave again must be such an awful thing to bare. Although from a readers stand point, let’s freakin’ do this!
Batman #48 was more of the same masterful story telling from Scott Snyder. The fact that it was recently announced that he’ll be leaving the book this summer is crushing. Snyder has done more for Batman in the five years that he’s been writing him, than any other writer I can think of (and yes I’m including the very confusing Grant Morrison run). While Snyder is rumored to be moving to Detective Comics, keeping him in the Bat Universe, he’ll be focusing on more the side characters leaving Batman to other story tellers. In his wake he’ll leave some pretty big shoes to follow. With a book like Batman, that has been so consistently good for so long, I would hate to see his departure lead to a diminishing in story telling for our hero. I guess only time will tell, but it does make Batman #48 a bit bittersweet. Snyder is still on the top of his game here, and it’s not just his ability to write Batman but his understanding of the what makes Gotham tick that’ll I miss the most. But I guess they say that sometimes it’s better to go out when your on top. Sigh
Final Verdict: 9 out of 10