REVIEW: Batman #44

WRITER: Scott Snyder, Brian Azzarello
ARTIST(s): Jock
LETTERER: Deron Bennett
COLORIST: Lee Loughridge
COVER ARTIST(s): Jock
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
RELEASE DATE: 09/9/2015

A stand-alone issue that both gives the normal art team a chance to breathe and gives us a little more background on the world of Mr. Bloom, this issue was a pretty huge change from the regular series.

First, the writing. Scott Snyder has basically defined himself as a skillful writer, at least when it comes to Batman. A bunch of narration and inner monologues, repeated themes that pop up both in the beginning and the end, and an amazing way of making Gotham its own character, all of which are aspects of his storytelling that make him the definitive Batman writer of this decade so far. I will admit that I, like many others, was caught a bit off-guard by this issue, because of the way it was marketed, concerning Mr. Bloom. Calling it in a ‘origin story’ makes many readers think of a classic ‘Mr. Bloom did this and that’s how he became a supervillain,’ whereas here the story is much more of an analysis of the damage and extent of power that Bloom could display. The themes of racial violence and a corrupt system only helps feed into this narrative, and the entire issue shows both Snyder and Azzarello giving readers a look into the not-so-flashy side of Gotham that we often miss in Bat-comics.

Now for an unpopular opinion: I don’t love Jock’s art. Now, now, hear me out. I’m sure that in horror comics like Wytches he’s an incredible fit, but in my superhero comics, I look for art that works amazingly in sequential storytelling, rather than the scratchy, often strangely colored style presented here. I love Fiona Staples and Tula Lotay, but I wouldn’t be super embracing if they took over Justice League or Action Comics, for example. And maybe I’m just spoiled by the normal superstar team of Capullo/Miki/Plascencia, but I just didn’t fall in love with the art in this issue like I do with other issues of Batman. And the coloring reminded me of Lynn Varley’s coloring in Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, because certain pages just simply didn’t get colored, and it takes me out of it. Then again, I’m probably just bitter because I didn’t get my FCO Plascencia fix for the month.

That all being said, many people love Jock’s style and were happy to see him working with Snyder on a superhero comic again, after their critically acclaimed work in Detective Comics, The Black Mirror. For those searching for a traditional origin, you may be caught off-guard, but for those of you who are like me and are liking the direction in which Mr. Bloom is headed, definitely pick up this series to see a little glimpse into the danger he poses to Gotham.

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