Batman #33 Review
Zero Year. It’s finally over, in what feels like a strenuous, never-ending length of time. That’s not necessarily a good or bad thing, but it’s nice to finally get some closure to the third extremely lengthy Batman story (counting the Black Mirror) of Scott Snyder’s. As much as Batman: Year One is the definitive Batman origin in my eyes, this still holds up on its own as a great origin story for a somewhat new incarnation of Batman. Plus, it features my favorite Bat-villain of all time at his best: The Riddler.
Now, Snyder is known for delivering somewhat anticlimactic endings sometimes, so I was definitely wary about reading this. I was coming in ready to be disappointed but you know what? I’ve read it 3 times already. That’s how good of an ending Snyder, Capullo, and Plascencia have put together. This is the first successful ending to one of his stories I’ve seen, because it’s so satisfying and offers proper resolutions to everything. Batman #33 is everything an ending should be, with warfare boiled down to its purest form, appropriately high stakes, and an emotionally-charged series of beats coupled with one of the most triumphant last pages seen in comics in a long time.
First and foremost, let’s start with the final confrontation with the Riddler. The Riddler is a hard villain to write a huge conflict for simply because the villain’s scale of crime typically amounts to little more than robbery with a puzzle gimmick behind it. What Snyder does is he takes the core of Riddler’s character and amps it up to 11, trying to prove he’s smarter than Batman and subsequently Gotham City by shutting off the power to the city, overgrowing it, and then finally challenging Batman to a series of riddles. That doesn’t sound so bad, but then you find out Batman is being watched by a series of lasers connected to a number of chemical weapons floating in the Gotham sky. And yes, the things projecting those lasers are robots called Riddler-bots. That’s how off the wall this gets. Everything is appropriately high stakes. Batman takes Riddler up on his battle of wits, and both of them have ways of winning by cheating. The sense of scale and the ideological opposites of both Riddler and Batman being at play are what makes this great. This is the biggest a Riddler story can get, and Snyder writes him perfectly. If this isn’t what they base the next live-action incarnation on, then I’ll be utterly confused.
(Also, I love that the location they fight in is the museum from #22 – it’s such a nice callback and makes total sense as a location for their duel of wits)
But what makes Batman #33 and by association the rest of Zero Year so great is that it is the most punk-rock Batman story, possibly of all time. It takes traditional conventions, both in the art and storytelling, and throws them against the wall, starting all over. You’ve got Batman wrestling lions, riding steam-powered motorcycles, and fighting mutated monsters on top of blimps. That’s how punk and crazy this gets. Even the artwork gets all crazy, with Capullo drawing some truly out-of-this-world things like Riddler bots and a city covered in overgrowth. Plascencia’s coloring is also the most dynamic coloring seen in a Batman comic in a long time, primarily because it goes all over the place with pinks, yellows, reds, and greens clashing with the typical Batman-architecture of gray and black. It’s the brightest, dare I say happiest Batman comic I’ve seen in a long time. Plascencia is the real star of this book.
Batman #33 is the best conclusion Snyder’s given us, and I hope to see more like this coming out of his work. Not bad for the 75th anniversary, not bad at all.