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Written By: Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV Art By: Yanick Paquette, Nathan Fairbairn, Steve Wands Cover Price: $3.99 Release Date: February 10, 2016
*Non Spoilers and Score At The Bottom*
It's been a long, hard road in getting Bruce Wayne to become Batman again, what with Jim Gordon taking the mantle of the Bat and Bruce simply digging his life with Julie Madison and his job working with children. It's weird, as much as I want to get the Batman we all know and love back in action, I have to admit that I kind of feel sorry for Bruce as well because the life he's living now, without the memories of his parents death and what he previously did as the Dark Knight is a pretty awesome way to end his story and allow him to ride off into the sunset, all "and they lived happily ever after". That might have been Bruce's end, but because people love the original Batman and that original Batman has the ability to print money for DC, Bruce was forced to start remembering his past because of Mr. Bloom's attacks on the city, his interactions with who I'm now claiming is the smartest man alive Duke Thomas and lastly because of his little powwow with the dionesium healed Joker in the last issue, Bruce now knows who he is and has to find a way to become The Batman once again and hopefully save the city in the process. Let's jump into this issue and see if Bruce is able to throw his happy life away for the sake of others or if he's doomed to live that happy life, knowing that he previously could have made a difference............. Yeah, it's not too hard to imagine which of those options will go down. Let's check it out.
Our issue begins right where we left off previously, with Bruce demanding that Alfred show him "the cave". Well, it doesn't exactly pick up where we left off because this issue is littered with strange scenes of Batman doing strange things, like working with a Council of Owls, Bruce Wayne being Mayor, Julie and him being married with a child, etc, etc. This really threw me off at first, but while I tried to analyze each panel thinking that I was missing something, the answer showed up like it usually does whenever I try to get fancy and try to find something hidden............ all I had to do was keep reading. So yeah, Alfred reluctantly showed Bruce the entrance to the cave, after a lot of pleading from him for Bruce to just let it go and we find out that the device that we saw Alfred destroy in one panel a couple of issues ago, which we saw in action during Detective Comics #27's anniversary spectacular, where Scott Snyder showed us how Batman intended on always providing the world with a Batman, through a machine that cloned him and then stuck all the knowledge of Batman into the clone's head........... Yeah, this machine has been hanging out for awhile, but I figured since Alfred went and destroyed it that that would be it and we'd have to move on to other means of getting Bruce back in the cowl............. but Alfred only destroyed the hard drive containing the mind of Batman and what kind of Batman would we have if he didn't have a backup?........... a pretty lousy one, that's what.
So yeah, even though Alfred keeps saying that all the simulations that Batman ran on the machine ended up killing the subject because the mind of Batman is apparently too much for anyone, even a blank clone, Bruce is all about filling his head up with detective, bat shark repellent nonsense........ even if death is a possibility. It's during Bruce's time in the machine that we find out that all this weird Batman stuff we keep seeing in this issue is do the machine trying to force the memories of Batman onto Bruce's new mind and the result is a history that comes together all wrong....... which is definitely a failure and Alfred wants to do the responsible thing and shut it down before it causes brain death, but Bruce isn't about to stop now and comes up with the idea that Batman never tried to run the program after brain death and in order for Batman to live, Bruce Wayne must die. It's a really cool concept and pokes at your emotions a bit............ but then you remember that this idea is nonsense because he's essentially making his mind a blank slate in order for the Batman memories to imprint properly and we already spent half the issue being reminded over and over again that the simulations that were meant to be cloned blank slates all died............. So yeah, this plan doesn't seem very sound.
In the end, things get really convenient when Alfred tries to talk Bruce out of this plan by laying a guilt trip on him by saying that if he does this, he's essentially Joe Chill pulling the trigger all over again and because it's convenient to save Alfred from having to endure this trauma and because we need someone to go through will killing Bruce to make Batman, we have Julie Madison show up out of nowhere because apparently she's always known that Bruce was Batman and since the city needs it's hero again, she's willing to throw what her and this new incarnation of Bruce have away to save the day. As our issue closes, Bruce is left brain dead before they turn the power of the machine up to full blast, just jackhammering the Caped Crusader into Bruce's blank mind and we're left with the brooding look of our hero telling Alfred and Julie that it's time to go to work.
That's it for this issue of Batman and while I don't think that anyone could tell you that this wasn't an enjoyable issue, there were certain aspects of the story that just didn't seem to jive, like Bruce's final plan to become Batman kind of went against everything that was set up in the beginning of the issue. We're led to believe that Batman would have had clones of himself to throw his mind into and I'm pretty sure that it's safe to say that these clones were meant to be blank slates, but simulation after simulation showed that these subjects would have died, but Bruce's plan to become Batman again entailed that he become brain dead as well, giving him that blank slate status. I don't know if the machine works on purely symbolic gestures, where Bruce Wayne has to die in order for Batman to live, but it just didn't seem to make much sense to me in the end............ as much as a memory beam machine could make sense anyway. Besides for that though and the very convenient twist that Julie Madison knew that Bruce was Batman all along and showed up right at the perfect moment, I dug the story and how this teased machine finally came into the plot to get us our hero back. The weird false memories were also a nice touch and actually made the book feel a bit Morrison-y with their inclusion due to them showing up out of nowhere and portraying something that just felt completely off.......... that's not a jab, it's just how i picture Grant Morrison's storytelling. While I normally talk about the art section of this book very briefly due to Greg Capullo and the rest of the art team having a very consistent and awesome style, for this issue we get Yanick Paquette on art duties and Nathan Fairbairn on colors and even though they're not what we're used to from this title, they really did an excellent job in telling this story visually and I would love to see them paired up on more things in the future because I definitely had a good time with the visuals of this book and they even kept a similar feel that we expect from this title. So yeah, not everything is perfect to me with this story, but it's definitely worth reading.
Bits and Pieces:
Bruce is all about being Batman again in this issue and with that we get Scott Snyder's "Machine" that was shown during Detective Comics #27 and what it has to do with our former hero regaining his former glory. This is a strange, but fun issue that shows how determined Bruce is in doing what needs to be done, even in his memory impaired state and while things aren't perfect to me with it's execution, it's pretty awesome seeing a hero reborn. One thing going in that might leave people a little put off is that we have a different art team on this issue, but with their devotion to keeping this book feeling like it has since the New 52, we end up with a really good looking issue.