Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Batman #31 Review

We have all the time in the world….

First of all, the cover is a nice nod to the emerald archer, who’s been called Batman’s copy for so long but now with the superlative Arrow show, he’s finally got his due in mainstream media.

Snyder must be the wordiest writer I’ve ever seen. It’s great to hear his thoughts through the mouths of his characters, but it is a shame the beautiful artwork is the victim.

The main story here is ‘how to outriddle the Riddler’. And Snyder deals with it in a diverting but predictable manner.


As Fox contemplates being the next ‘riddler’ to the Riddler for the sake of the city, he reminisces his time with his son. But before he can move on this likely suicidal route, a familiar darkness sweeps over the sun, stopping him in his tracks.

The Bat has returned.

Gordon, Fox and Batman ponder about the Riddler’s base of operations, concluding he is still in the city.

Fox alerts Batman that tracking the signal with which he communicates with the Gothamites for his daily riddle contest will be difficult as Nygma stays online less than ten minutes, which is the minimum for tracking.

Batman confirms that he will keep Nygma busy long enough for the tracking and leaves to pick up more supplies (also, he made batarangs while there).

In a flashback, Bruce tries to remain isolated and calm in his classroom but the teacher has other ideas, forcing him to answer a problem.

Back in the present, the Riddler taunts the cowering crowd (though the sadistic nature of the audience in still turning up is a bitter mirror of the real world) as Batman suits up and arrives.

Fox gets into position while Gordon secures the tracking in the Wayne Tower.

The back-forth with the Riddler is a revelation. This Batman is not a man of few words, instead manipulating Edward into showing off and wasting precious time using many chosen triggers like self-psychoanalysis and contempt.

Riddler fails to identify Bruce’s roots, but without any proof, considers Batman has failed and sentences him to the pits. Batman allows that to give Lucius more time.

Gordon stops in his tracks divided over helping his friend or securing the signal. But the security camera makes him jump from near the top of Wayne Tower into a flooded subway station.

Batman taunts Riddler to keep him occupied and watching, as he takes on the lions and wins. Even as this happens, we see in flashback how Bruce is still traumatized by the murders and relives them in every social interaction.

It's a scene befitting a horror genre book as Bruce visualizes everyone in the same state as his parents were (the males are dripping blood from their mouths while the women have a gaping hole in their forehead).

On a lighter note, it's really amusing to see how a worried Fox and a bemused Riddler quickly change facial expressions as the fight wears on.

Sensing defeat, Riddler drops a shipload of cars into the pit, but Gordon’s timely intervention saves Bruce.

In the past, the teacher comes home to find his lawn on fire and the police there. Looking closely, he finds that the mark left by the flames is the answer to the riddle he posed back in class - zero.

The back-and-forth time lines are done very well as one parallels the other, yet deal with very different situations (another thing this issue shares with the Arrow show!).

I don’t think I’ve ever seen the post-murder Bruce done in such detail in normal social structures (most of the mythos, he left home very soon after the murders apparently, with no time for school or other such activities).

Also, Gordon and Fox are given great character development here, not to mention the Riddler.


With a thoroughly enjoyable yet deeply reflective issue, Snyder is bringing Zero Year to a close in style.

The dialogue may get a little overbearing at times but it’s great to get into the heads of all out characters, especially Fox.

Capullo brings him A-game whether in the blood drenched sequences or the slight muscle movements of the characters. 

So, I give it 9.0 out of 10.

+Some great character exploration
+Nice balance of action and calm
+Great pacing between the past and present timelines
+Artwork is as usual amazing
+Young Bruce is seriously messed up, and Snyder conveys that brilliantly!

-The issue may be too dialogue-heavy at times

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