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Comic Review: Batman Annual #2

Batman Annual #2 New 52 Marguerite Bennett

New 52. New baddie. New look at Batman.

Batman Annual #2 sees writer Marguerite Bennett join Scott Snyder in doing what the latter does best: taking what we know about Batman and turning it on its head.

Snyder teams with Bennett for the story plotting, but Bennett ably handles the writing duties to introduce the villain Anchoress.

The story is a mid-career Batman tale that brings the Dark Knight to Arkham for a night of stress testing. The Arkham docs lock Batman up, and Batman uses the tactics of his many foes to test Arkham’s defences.

The hitch comes when Arkham inmate #1, a decrepit old lady named the Anchoress, catches wind of Batman. The Anchoress is a relic from the days when Arkham was a place of mental healing, before Batman turned it into a prison for his incurable rogues gallery.

She blames Batman for screwing up her therapy, and she thinks killing him is the way to set things back to normal.

She can also phase through walls, Kitty Pryde style.

Intrigued yet?

Bennett and Snyder have a winning one-off here, as Batman Annual #2 peels back a layer of the Gotham City milieu to examine what Arkham Asylum is supposed to be, and what Batman has transformed it into.

There are also some traumatic flashbacks for Batman that incorporate both old and new pains. The expected bit of Damian pathos is there, but so too is a reminder of Lincoln March/Thomas Wayne Jr., the mastermind behind Snyder’s first New 52 plot, the Court of Owls.

Artwork from Wes Craig is excellent, with a clean Batman style reminiscent of Patrick Gleason on Batman and Robin (or Batman and Special Guest Sidekick these days).

Craig’s Anchoress walks the fine line between gruesome and sympathetic; she looks like an old ghost who just wants to be put to rest.

Batman Annual #2 opens new doors at Arkham Asylum and shows an unexplored side of Batman’s world.

8.5 out of 10

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