Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Batman #34 Review (Gerry Duggan, Matteo Scalera)

August: the holiday month. That time of the year when everyone goes off for a week or two and chills out before the madness of September takes us back to the school/work rota once again. 

The same applies to Batman as regular creative team Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo take a well earned breather after their epic Zero Year storyline ended last month with writer Gerry Duggan and artist Matteo Scalera filling in for an issue (though Snyder receives a story co-credit with Duggan). 

After spending the last year and a bit six years in Bruce’s past, we’re back in the dark present where some lunatic is murdering Dr Leslie Thompkins’ patients, as well as some of Gotham’s homeless, and burying them in the potters’ field. Batman catches the killer. The end. 

It’s really that straightforward and throwaway a story. I mean, I know this is a filler issue before we get to the next big Batman arc, but we couldn’t have gotten a more, well, imaginative story? This one is totally forgettable! 

Early in the issue there was a close-up of the killer’s face which had this weird scarred smile that made me think for a moment that this murderer might be the Joker, but it’s not. Joker’s too big a star to be re-introduced in such a tossed off way like this, plus, you know, the guy has a face and Joker doesn’t. 

The only standout moment in the issue - and not for a good reason - is how Batman captures the murderer, using a labcoat and some face-masking tech. Imagine Batman’s massive frame and then compare it to a middle-aged woman’s. Do you think anyone would be able to spot a difference between the two? Because apparently the killer can’t! And he even puts his arms around her/him, as if he could do that with a guy as huge as Batman! 

Matteo Scalera’s art isn’t bad - you’ve probably seen his work in a variety of comics for DC, Marvel and Image over the past couple years, so chances are you’re familiar with it and you know whether you like it or not. I will say that there’s nothing new here that I haven’t seen Scalera do before in other comics, so while it’s not a bad-looking issue, it’s no standout either. 

And that’s the whole issue - a serviceable but very mediocre script from Gerry Duggan decently drawn by Matteo Scalera. If you were expecting the beginning of an amazing new Snyder/Capullo Batman arc, then you’ll be disappointed with this issue, and if you haven’t bought it yet, I wouldn’t recommend bothering. 

The Five Years Later storyline that ties into Future’s End begins next issue, and if Snyder/Capullo return we’ll be back to the regular high standard longtime readers have come to expect from this title. But for now, and just this rare once, there’s a blip in the quality of New 52 Batman with Batman #34 being the crappiest comic in the run so far.

Batman #34

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