Snyder’s writing and Capullo’s artwork combine to bring a heavy rain of regret down upon the heads of Gotham.
Superstorm Rene has come to Gotham, and along with the rain and hurricane winds, a different-yet-similar calamity threatens: that of Superstorm Nygma. The Riddler’s plans are at fruition: the power is down, a bone monster rides high in the heavens above the city and nothing seems to stand in the way of Riddler gaining control. Can anyone stop him?
This issue is the best so far in a strong, impassioned story arc. The homage to Batman’s 1939 origins continues, with references to dirigibles (Detective Comics #33, November 1939), the vivid colour palette of FCO Plascencia and various other visual and character references from Batman’s history, including the lightening-strike leap of The Dark Knight Returns.
For some readers, however, these callbacks to origins established in other notable collections, such as Batman: Year One, have seemed needless and frustrating. But, frankly, these critics are missing the point.
Quite the opposite to ‘Zero Year’ being a rehash of old material, Snyder is adding to Batman’s story, bringing together the various strands of the Dark Knight’s mythos to present a complete picture. His vision is as innovative as it is reverential, and #29 is the issue that demonstrates this the most so far.
Batman is the creature of eternal regret, haunted by that night in an alleyway when his parents died. This is his “thing”. But in ‘Dark City’, Snyder brings everyone’s past into play. Bruce Wayne no longer holds the majority ownership of Pain & Regret Inc. Instead, the writer gives other characters a chance to tell us about their own moments when life went horribly wrong; in this issue it’s Dr Helfern’s turn at the grief-wheel.
All this has built to #29, where – in spite of some of the best intentions – everything is falling apart. The crisis has become a Hydra: Batman cuts off one problematic head only to find another has grown in its place. There is vile entertainment in his torment that Snyder invites us to sit down and watch.
However, Snyder’s writing isn’t even the best thing about this piece. For me, the absolute winner of #29 is Greg Capullo.
His efforts in this huge issue convince me that he must actually live in Gotham, because he makes the story feel real. The rain bounces off pavements and faces, the wind pushes hoods against the backs of heads, the build-up to the dirigible reveal is cinematic and its eventual appearance is heart-in-your-mouth stuff.
Capullo also tackles the ‘biggie’ of any Batman artist: the death of Bruce’s parents. He delivers it with love, grace and utter, utter sadness. The first three and final four pages of this comic will live with me for a long time. In fact, I think Capullo has given us the definitive version of Bruce aged eight, which is the greatest compliment I can give to him.
Buy it, read it. You won’t want it to end.
Scott Snyder (W), Greg Capullo (A), Danny Miki (I), FCO Plascencia (C) • DC Comics, $4.99, March 12, 2014