Batman 5 (March 2012)
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artists: Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion
Good afternoon! It’s a freezing cold but beautiful day here in Gotham City, and I’m taking a break from my whirlwind of household chores (joy) to share some love for Batman 5. There will be spoilers, so please go read the comic before reading the rest of this – it’s definitely worth it. I’m not even sure that I can explain how much I love this comic, but I’ll try. The story structure and art design work together to really make the most of the comicbook form, it’s art that couldn’t be done with any other medium.
A mysterious group called the Court of Owls is messing with Batman; now that I think about it, I’m not actually clear on what their ultimate objective is but they’re definitely up to no good. Maybe they want to control Gotham, and stop Batman from cleaning up the city and protecting the citizens? What do you think?
The issue opens with Gordon shining the Bat signal, not because he thinks Batman will show up (he hasn’t made an appearance in days) but because the signal has meaning for Gotham’s criminals and other vigilantes as well. Here’s how Gordon explains that to Bullock:
We then move to Batman himself, trapped in the Court of Owls’ labyrinth. As he gets more and more lost he also begins to lose his mind! As Yanick Paquette commented on Twitter, the art traps Batman just as effectively as the storyline, he’s caught in all these tiny boxes and can’t get out. I also love the choice to have Batman’s right mask lens broken, exposing his eye, this definitely adds to the crazy look. I mean, more than being dressed up as a giant bat already did.
The other thing that I really loved about this issue is a bit hard to show here. As Batman gets more and more turned around and mixed up in the maze, the comic itself turns around on itself. We start reading with the standard orientation, left to right, top to bottom, but then we turn the page and the entire book is sideways, requiring the reader to actually turn the comic to read what’s going on. A few pages later and we’re flipped again, upside-down just as Batman’s entire world is turned topsy-turvy by the people he meets in the labyrinth.
Any time Batman laughs like that we know something’s gone wrong. The art isn’t the only thing that mirrors and emphasizes the labyrinth theme, Snyder’s writing does as well. Phrases like “Get back in the dark, where it’s safe”, “I know all the tricks” and “I’m not listening” come back over and over as Batman moves through the labyrinth but finds himself always returning to the same room (unless there are many rooms all made to look the same? Either is possible!)
Look at his hands! I won’t give away how this issue ends, but Snyder has me on the edge of my seat waiting for Batman 6! With Batman delving deep into who Batman is and what is role is with Gotham city, and such beautiful and innovative artwork, this is one comicbook that does not disappoint.