Home > Comics, Reviews > Comic Review: Batman #33 gives the Dark Knight a glorious birthday present

Comic Review: Batman #33 gives the Dark Knight a glorious birthday present

Batman #33 Gordon Bat Signal
Batman #33 is so much more than a Riddler romp.

The purple-and-green puzzler may be the final baddie of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s brilliant Zero Year arc, but he’s really just the spark that lets the true stars – Bruce, Alfred, and most importantly, Gotham City – shine through.

And so it’s fitting that Snyder gives us the ultimate Batman-Riddler showdown right off the top, delivering on the disco ball death trap we left off with at the end of Batman #32. Snyder writes some strong riddles (and/or borrows them), but he and Capullo take the scene beyond a simple Q&A. You can feel Batman’s impatience as he tries to beat Riddler and get the city on line before military jets destroy it. Above ground, Jim Gordon and Lucius Fox confront the jet problem more directly, doing their best to divert the incoming fighters by creating a certain “signal” to keep them at bay.

But back to Bats. He wins, of course – this is comics – but Snyder’s got more to say than “Batman wins.” Batman has to shock himself to restart a heart monitor attached to the city power grid, and that fixes everything. But Snyder and Capullo slip some odd hospital scenes in between that shock sequence, and those seemingly insignificant flashes become what the story is really all about.

That does it for the traditional Bat-tale. The bad guy has been defeated, order is restored, and we can all go home, right?

Not quite, and that’s why this comic is great. Snyder saves a good chunk of the comic to reflect and bring all his character storylines to a close in a series of deft, heartrending scenes that could only work with Greg Capullo working the pencil.

First, Bruce buys Jim Gordon a new coat, delivering on one of the subtle symbols Snyder established just a few issues into Zero Year.

Then, Snyder pulls the rug out from under us, revealing that Bruce tried to use electroshock therapy to “reboot” his personality and become someone else. We see flashes of the scene all through the Riddler fight, but they don’t make sense until the end, when Bruce reveals it to Alfred.

But that deft turn doesn’t just mean something for Bruce, because Alfred – clinging to his paternal feelings for Bruce – has one of Bruce’s old girlfriends waiting in the wings. It’d almost be adorable if it wasn’t so sad, and Capullo makes it all the sadder. He draws a happy yet heartbreaking montage of Bruce’s life from this point forward – candlelight dinners, marriage, kids, a happy visit to the movies – only to yank it away. Because Bruce is set on his path now, and the last few pages of this comic are about Alfred coming to terms with that. He’s kissing that happy life for his pseudo-son goodbye, and learning to accept what must be.

“I’m so sorry, miss,” he tells the girl. “But I’m afraid he’s been spoken for.”

And Capullo ends it with a full-page shot of Batman swinging out into the city.

9.5 out of 10

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