OK, so time to actually review this…
A lot of my Shallow Reader friends have already covered most of what I would say about this, but I’ll briefly expand on what I thought…
1)Like Anne I loved seeing the giant penny do something! I also agree that Snyder’s 25yr old Bruce Wayne has more in common with Dick Grayson than the Bruce Wayne we’re used to. Good point as well that Batman has years to grow bitter and into the badass who has every angle covered that we’ll ever know.
2)This Batman is not perfect…he gets beat by Riddler, and people suffer for it. This is just like Anne says above, a perfect explanation for how the paranoia of over-preparation came to Bruce/Bats…by this early defeat and un-preparedness.
3)Much like Sam, I loved that Snyder made Edward Nigma/Riddler back into a force to be reckoned with. The exellent Arkham series of video games has done a magnificent job showing just how proficient, ruthless, deadly and prepared Riddler can be (much like his Dark Knight counterpart…) In many ways, Bruce learned as much about preparation from Riddler himself, as he did from his being defeated by Nigma. Just like we learn how Red Hood shaped Batman, we also see here that Riddler is no slouch, and even more dangerous than anyone else. Bruce learns a lot from his matchup with Riddler, and without it, wouldn’t be the same Batman we know and worship.
Hurrah for the Rejuvenational Rehabilitation of the Riddler!
4)I entirely agree with, and love that Sesana points to the aspects of Bruce and Alfred. Alfred’s little coda at the end with Julie Madison (kudos again to Snyder for being that aware of the history of Batman to throw her in here, in a small, but pivotal scene) shows just how deep the Gentleman’s Gentleman feels responsible for ‘Master Bruce’ and what sort of hope he holds out. In many ways, I don’t think Batman would be nearly the force he is without Alfred. Father figure, wise sage, battlefield surgeon (who I just realize now, might have picked things up from the Army as well as being Butler to Doctor Thomas Wayne…) and more patriarch of the Wayne’s than any actual Wayne since Thomas.
This is like getting to go back in time and see just how gut-wrenching it must be for Alfred day in and day out for years, decades, to see what young little Bruce turns into. The heartfelt moments between Bruce and Alfred really get to me, because it’s something we always know is there, but luckily, hasn’t been overdone by writers yet.
As for my own thoughts, I love the Riddler being relevant, I love the nods to Batman past, and I love that this just feels fresh, even though I’m sure most of us have read similar things in Batman many times before. I also liked the Gordon/Bats relationship development, even if it did feel a little convenient at points (Gordon/Bats relationship develops just like it did in Year One, with mistrust at first giving way to cautious trust.). Also nice to see Lucius Fox get some screen time (as well as a bit of explanation about his son, who some might know became Batwing #2). There’s just not a wasted note, everything seems to be planned out well, just like Batman would, years in advance so that every detail has been thought of.
I’m not sure the chronology, but I’m guessing this came out before Forever Evil…? If so, I’m not sure if I should just call out Papa Johns on the blatant ripoff of the ‘electronic item wired to heart of said Gotham superhero’ we see here, and the same one we see wired up to Dick Grayson in Forever Evil…but it’s the end of the year, and I’m almost out of negativity, so here’s what I’ll be charitable and do instead…Johns, as the cheese at DC, knew this was happening early in Batman’s career, so fast forward to Dick Grayson having his heart wired up to a device the same way Bruce had his wired up, and boom…Bruce realizes the Alfred role, and all of a sudden, has the humanity to realize that if he cannot value Dick as much as Alfred valued him, then he’s not prepared for that life. This would be a great explanation as to why Batman doesn’t just go practical here…sorry, it’s a bit off topic, but I wanted to address it, and I would love to know if anyone else noticed that before I mentioned it…
I just re-read The Dark Knight Returns (I took out The Dark Knight Strikes Again, and I wanted to be on the same page before I got into that), and it seems in many ways Snyder’s work ties in closely to Miller’s. That being said, I prefer Snyder’s, and Capullo is a WAY better artist than Lynn Varley. However, it’s interesting to see that this young Batman here (and in Secret City) could very easily have become the Dark Knight of Miller’s work (the comparisons between Year One and Secret City abound, and for good reason). I particularly enjoyed the page that was a clear shout out of respect and acknowledgement of Miller’s monumental work, leaving no doubt to anyone reading that Snyder and Capullo know and respect the history.
Pretty Damn Cool.