Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, James Tynion IV, Alex Maleev
Spoiler alert! You have been warned!
Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo never disappoint when they’re on their own, so it should come as absolutely no surprise to the readers of Batman that they continue to produce anything less than stellar when they work together. They do something very special in this, what some would refer to as a “filler story,” though. They manage to make a story that shouldn’t matter, well… matter.
As we conclude this brief interlude between Requiem and Zero Year, Clayface is up to no good and even more maniacal and murderous than ever. He has managed to not only capture Bruce Wayne and Lucius Fox, but also explain a pretty believable motive for doing so: He’s simply sick and tired of rich people not letting him impersonate and then blackmail them. So Lucius equips Bruce with a prototype costume (which fans of the Batman Beyond universe will absolutely love) and aids his employer in aiding himself (or, you know, Batman) in besting Clayface yet again. But the ending provides us with not only a great fight sequence (and some new powers for Clayface), but also a few revelations. The first of which is that Clayface can no longer return to the form of Basil Karlo, which is definitely an interesting twist. And the second, and possibly even more deadly, is that there is a chance that Karlo may have figured out that Bruce Wayne is in fact Batman. The masquerade plays out quite quickly, but a lifetime of imprisonment might just open up a bunch of new questions for the former actor. Not to mention the fact that he should probably know by now, especially after the events of the Hush storyline a few years back. We then get a touching final two pages with Alfred and Bruce talking about how Damian’s death will not destroy Batman like Jason’s did. And finally, we get to see the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Not one of anger. Not one of violence. But rather, for the first time in years, we get to see Bruce show a little humanity as he openly sheds a tear for his one and only true son. And the best part about this issue is not the emotion, the tear, or even the excellent fact that it wasn’t an entire issue (or two issues) of such. It’s the fact that Alfred is there with him, at his side, resting a hand on his surrogate son’s weary shoulder.
With yet another great backup story by James Tynion IV and Alex Maleev, this is yet another excellent issue that any Bat fans would find a welcome addition to their growing collection. This two part double feature not only simultaneously redefines Clayface as a villain worthy of the Batman’s attention as well as growing the Batman mythos as a whole, but also manages to do something that I have thought was no longer possible: making Gotham seem fresh, new, and exciting. Another great issue, guys! Can’t wait for Zero Year, and the brand new, never-before-told origin of the greatest hero in all of comic books.
My Rating: 5/5