My rating: 3 of 5 stars
There are two kinds of people in the world: the ones who believe Batman is the real personality and the ones that believe Batman is the persona.
Ok, the latter camp is something I made up, but it was a cool way to open the review.
Anyway, I belong to the third faction (population: 1) that believes that neither Batman nor Bruce Wayne is the real person, but something in between, a mixed personality that we never get to see.
For the purposes of this review, let’s refer to the middle ground between Batman and Bruce Wayne as the Dark Knight.
Why am I rambling on about this when you could be reading shorter and more informative reviews, you ask? It’s because this story runs parallel to the Death of the Family arc (for a while anyway), and I have noticed an obsession with Batman writers (except maybe Snyder) regarding the Bat persona and neglecting the everyday side of Bruce.
I get it, he’s basically the Holy Grail of psychological trauma and the most successful case of daddy-issues, but I think occasionally it’s okay to assume Bruce started off with his parents’ death and now crime-fights for the sake of it.
The best evidence for this neglect is in the art of this volume. Don’t get me wrong, I really loved it for the most part and I stared geekily at some panels because they were so cool. But let’s see how they treat Batman vs Bruce Wayne.
Ignoring the question of why the hell he looks like a tank, look at the detail on Batman. He’s wearing an all black costume but you can see the rugged boots, the spikes on his gloves, every muscle.
Now let’s see Exhibit B:
WHY THE FRICK IS BRUCE WAYNE’S FACE LIKE A GREEK VASE PAINTING? WHAT IS HAPPENING?
Take a look at what I mean:
It’s as if they were all enthusiastic about every panel before and after this, but then suddenly realized they hadn’t designed a face for Bruce, so they went with a basic geometric shape. Imagine my shock when I was chugging along and I suddenly got hit with a Lego head in a romantic scene.
This happens in profile too, so the horror doesn’t stop there. Though it softens up a bit in the last story, probably because it was a different artist?
The story was basically ruined for me at this point because that head haunted me afterwards.
I don’t necessarily know that this one deserves the title of a detective comic because it doesn’t seem any more investigative than some others I’ve read. I thought it had an okayish plot, with some predictable elements and sometimes they tried too hard to shock you a la the Dollmaker. Who was a pretty lackluster character because he sorta appears, throws some minions at Bats and disappears. Actually, now that I think about it, they were trying to tell too many stories in the volume, so the problem was that you never became really invested in any of them.
Like, why insert that truly random 5 pages of Catwoman and Eli Strange? WHY? It was just strange (pun intended).
Overall, it felt the book was meant to be a hook for a number of other books, but flailed trying to balance that and it’s own coherent plot.
Not unlike a certain Marvel movie… *cough*Age of Ultron*cough*
Oh, and they forgot to give Bruce a proper face, because they were so busy removing the Joker’s.