BATMAN #48

As Bloom gets to grips with Gordon, Bruce catches up with an old friend.
6/10.

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I didn’t have a blog last month so instead of reviewing Batman #47 I did pretty much the same thing as everyone else and raved on Facebook about the Joker’s return. As Heath Ledger’s Joker declared in The Dark Knight, “I think you and I are destined to do this forever.” The twisted symbiotic relationship between Batman and Joker is something comic book writers have been exploring for decades. Snyder and Capullo had used it as a focal point on numerous occasions before the apparent deaths of both men during Endgame’s climatic battle. So if Bruce is back then of course it makes sense that the Joker would be back as well. And there they were, sat together on a bench in the last panel of issue 47. Forget endgame, this was game on!

However issue 48 immediately caused me to question my assumption that Bruce’s companion was in fact his great nemesis. Of course this was Snyder and Capullo’s intent, the artwork clearly hints at him being Joker as does his wordplay, the way he seems to know so much about Bruce. But then Snyder lets it seem as if Bruce’s own amnesia could be a part of this, filling in the gaps to form his own conclusions. Could this be Batman’s instincts at play or is it the panicked mind of his new form as the walls he has constructed begin to crumble? The man claims to be a victim of Joker’s attack, an amnesiac like Bruce, but then why the loaded conversation? My personal opinion is that this is Joker. But like Bruce, this new incarnation is done with battle for the time being, even going so far as to suggest that the two of them die together once more, to quit whilst they are ahead.

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It’s not a stream of thought that either man is able to explore as the conversation is brought to an abrupt end by an attack on the city by Bloom. Capullo’s art is on point as Bloom marauds through the city in giant form followed by his legion of twisted and mutating ‘friends’. Bloom’s plan is a simple one, to destroy Gotham and to grow something new and wild in its place. Broken and battered, Jim Gordon has a front row seat for the carnage as Bloom carries him like a rag doll in his hands. Bloom screams propaganda as he moves through Gotham, informing its citizens that he has hidden seeds throughout the city, seeds that have the power to change them into creatures like him. Those who join him will have a place in his new world, those who don’t… not so much. As ever, the Gothamites react in violent panic.

As Bloom forces his vines into Gordon’s body (now there’s something you don’t type every day!), Bruce rushes back to the centre to check on Jules. There he discovers that Liv has taken one of Bloom’s seeds resulting in a horrific transformation. It would seem that this is the final straw for Bruce Wayne, Liv’s declaration that she would become Batman to save the city drives him to the place he has been avoiding… Wayne Manor. The final panel shows Bruce bursting through the door shouting “take me to my cave” as Alfred weeps. Not “take me to the Batcave” or “show me the cave” a definitive statement of ownership, “MY cave.” There can be no denying it, Batman has returned, but what form will his latest incarnation take?

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Alfred’s tears are telling, he had pleaded for Bruce to be left alone to his new life. But much like the rest of us he must have known it could not have lasted. Batman is always there, bubbling below the surface. Bruce Wayne was just a dream, but now that dream has ended. I don’t believe it was Bloom or Liv that caused this change but rather his encounter with the Joker. Capullo shows how these two are drawn to each other like moths to a flame, could this have been Joker on some subconscious level trying to get his beloved back into the game? Truthfully I haven’t been a huge fan of the Superheavy storyline, whilst Gordon has made an enjoyable hero it’s felt like we’ve been stuck in a holding pattern with Bruce serving as the weakest link in the chain. There are those who would argue that they have pulled the trigger too soon on Batman’s return. I’m not one of them, with issue 50 fast approaching it seems as if big things are on the horizon.

POINTS OF INTEREST

  • There wasn’t a great deal for Duke or Gordon to do in this issue aside from Gordon’s Evil Dead moment.
  • Where did the joker get off to? Will he play a larger part in the resurrection of Batman?
  • Presumably there will be some kind of antidote for Bloom’s toxin but the mutation seems to be pretty drastic.
  • It will be interesting to see how easily Bruce slips back into the cowl. We’ve already seen that his instincts aren’t what they once were. Will Alfred be willing to help awaken the bat?

 

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