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Comic Review: Batman #19

Batman #19 cover by Greg Capullo Bruce Wayne points a gun at Commissioner Gordon

Scott Snyder, where are you?

From the first page of the main story to the last page of the backup, Batman #19 feels like there’s more than two hands on the steering wheel the whole way. It’s muddled, gimmicky, and so burdened by the goings-on at DC that there’s very little substance to deal with.

A few months ago, DC promised that April would be WTF Certified month, meaning each comic would have a “What the Fuck?” moment in it. Sounds ridiculous, right?

Well, DC wised up and pulled the WTF Certified campaign and stamp they were going to use.

That decision must’ve been made after Scott Snyder turned in this WTF Certified script.

The gatefold cover shows Bruce Wayne holding a gun (which is so not Bruce Wayne), and he’s pointing it at longtime ally Jim Gordon in the foldout.

There’s your WTF moment, and to justify it, the comic opens with a bizzarre bank heist perpetrated by – obviously – Bruce Wayne.

Much of the rest of the comic tries to explain away how this happened (hint: it rhymes with Fayclace), but it does so in such an awkward, mumbo-jumbo science speak fashion that it’s tough to even care what’s going on. Mix in a brooding Batman rewatching old mission logs of his adventures with Damian and you’ve got a story totally driven by outside forces. It’s always off balance, and just when you think you’ve found your narrative footing it throws another plot point at you that leaves you confused and wondering “Did I just stumble into Detective Comics?”

Even the backup story by James Tynion IV feels like it’s an editor-mandated prequel for the upcoming Batman/Superman, as Batman teams with Superman to investigate paranormal activity in an abandoned building.

Not to be forgotten in all of this mess is the one highlight: Greg Capullo, who does yeoman’s work on art as he goes from a bank heist to a car chase to the Batcave to a high tech bat-vehicle all in one issue. Everything looks great, but his Reaper design is the real standout.

Alex Maleev has art duties for the backup, but Brad Anderson really sets the tone in the story with his colours. Anderson bathes everything in either shadow or a pale, cold white light that really works with the paranormal subject matter. Maleev and Anderson do well in making the visual aspect of the story all about ambiance.

Batman #19 simply has too many chefs in the kitchen. Harper Row is nowhere to be seen, and it’s going to take another issue for Snyder to get out of this Clayface muck. Grit your teeth and plow through it, or take two issues off and come back for Zero Year in June.

You won’t miss much.

6.5 out of 10

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