Batman Volume 8: Superheavy
Medium: comic
Year: 2015
Writer: Scott Snyder, Brian Azzarello
Artist: Danny Miki, Greg Capullo, Jock
Keywords: superhero
Format: Batman 41-45, Divergence 1 (Free Comic Book Day)
Series: << Batman >>
Website category: Batman
Review date: 18 December 2021
It's perfectly okay. It's normal Snyder-Capullo fare, doing nothing wrong. I quite enjoyed it.
Batman died at the end of the last book (and then got better, ahahaha), so now Jim Gordon's the new Batman. No, seriously. Yes, I laughed too. Even Snyder knows that this is a joke and has characters saying they're just waiting for the real one to return, but Gordon's quite good in the role. He's forced to earn his stripes. He has dangerous fights and is arguably more human and interesting than Snyder's Wayne. Snyder introduces some ideas that would be unwelcome if done for real (e.g. the Bat-bots, the comedy Bat-design discussion) but here are worth a whirl. We know this won't last, but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Bat-Gordon's adventures.
Meanwhile, Wayne himself has amnesia and is an ordinary bloke. He's happy. He's got a mundane job and a peace of mind that the driven Bat-Wayne never had. This leads to some moderately interesting discussions about whether it would be right to force him back to what he used to be.
...and then, suddenly, we get a story by Azzarello and Jock. "Good Lord," I thought, astonished. "Something worth reading!"
I don't hate Snyder-Capullo at all, but both of them to me feel a bit smug and plastic. Capullo's a good artist, no question, but there's a cheeky Saturday morning cartoon sameness to his faces. Mouths tend to quirk at the corners in the same way. Meanwhile, I expect Snyder's scripts to be a bit glib and uninteresting, although the New 52 isn't helping. He's clever and he thinks interesting thoughts... but his stories fit Capullo's art. It all adds up to a slick, shiny package that I'd have avoided if I'd known what I was buying.
Azzarello's story, on the other hand, has meat to it. It's a Batman story that feels real. It's got street gangs, drugs and people with no hope. It's about cops shooting young black men. It's a slightly fragmented detective story that takes some effort to read and has Batman following a trail to see how a boy died. "The bank doesn't listen to folks with no money."
It also ends with the opposite of a fight.
Meanwhile, Jock's artwork is practically the anti-Capullo. It's scratchy, shadow-filled, rough-hewn and making Batman look carved out of stone. It's not pretty. It's making strong choices with monochrome, sepia and colour. There's an abstract double-page spread of Batman looking out over a Gotham that's a sea of newsprint. I loved it. It's a pleasure to behold Jock's pages. This is art in the proper sense of the word, not just a bunch of pictures. (Jock's real name is Mark Simpson, incidentally, and he's a Scotsman whose career started on 2000 AD. If you saw his work, you might almost have guessed that.)
Then, after that, it's back to Snyder-Capullo for more of the usual. It's standard Bat-fare, but with an amnesiac, placeholder Bruce Wayne and a comedy Bat-Gordon who's surprisingly one of the best things to come out of this Snyder run. There's action. There's a villain. It's completely and utterly okay.