Saturday, 7 November 2015

Batman, Volume 6: Graveyard Shift Review (Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo)

Most of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s acclaimed Batman run has been one event story after another: The Court of Owls, Death of the Family, Zero Year, and Endgame. But there have been a few random issues appearing in between the arcs to give readers a bit of a breather before launching into the next one – those are collected in this volume, the generically-titled Graveyard Shift. And, like many short story collections, it’s an uneven mix of quality. 

First off: Snyder and Capullo’s contributions unfortunately only make up a portion of the comics in this book with the majority being written/drawn by a variety of different creators. Their Zero Year tie-in was pretty nice with Bruce as a fledgling Batman yet again going up against the Red Hood gang. There’s also a WTF story (in 2013 DC did a gimmicky WTF month of bizarre covers/stories – generally it sucked) that stars a regular Batman villain though it’s not that great and totally pointless. However it does feature The Reaper (from Mike Barr’s infamous Batman: Year Two) which made me laugh because he’s just the worst (Fear… The Reaper!), and a prototype of the Batman Beyond outfit makes a cameo. Capullo makes it look stunning too, can we have a Snyder/Capullo Batman Beyond series please?! 

Disappointingly, those are the best issues in this volume. James Tynion IV and Andy Clarke do a short about Dick, Jason, Tim and Barbara seeing the Bat symbol as kids and being awestruck by it. Harper Row tries to be Batman’s new partner (several issues coincide with Damian Wayne’s death) and he promptly breaks her nose – charming! 

Batman fights dogs injected with venom, he teams up with Superman to fight an evil spirit, there’s an extra-long/extra-tedious story about an Arkham inmate called The Anchoress (whose motivations don’t make a lick of sense), and he takes down a bland murderer who’s targeting Leslie Thompkins’ patients. They’re just throwaway stories that are hard to care about for that very reason. The book does feature some premier artistic talent though with the likes of Alex Maleev, Andy Kubert, Matteo Scalera and Wes Craig producing fine work. 

Graveyard Shift closes out with an episode from Batman Eternal set in the future where Batman’s accepted Harper as his new partner – now calling herself Bluebird – and they drop in on a mob club. The final page reveal isn’t much of a secret if you’ve already read Batman Eternal but it’s a decent issue anyway, written by Snyder and drawn by Dustin Nguyen. 

Your mileage may vary but for me this was a very average Batman collection that fans of the Legends of the Dark Knight series will enjoy the most. Just don’t expect the same exciting, tightly-structured book-length narratives from Snyder/Capullo’s previous Batman volumes in Graveyard Shift.

Batman, Volume 6: Graveyard Shift

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