Batman Volume 9: Bloom
Medium: comic
Year: 2015
Writer: Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV
Artist: Danny Miki, Greg Capullo, Yanick Paquette, Sean Murphy
Keywords: superhero
Format: Batman 46-50, Detective Comics 27
Series: << Batman >>
Website category: Batman
Review date: 19 December 2021
It's the end. Not technically, since there's a Volume 10 (Epilogue) and after that a Black Label distant-future end (Last Knight on Earth)... but, yes, it's the end. The Snyder-Capullo Batman run has its finale here. It's big and spectacular. It thinks it's dramatic and, occasionally, sort of approaches that. It does the things you knew had to happen.
It's not very good, but it's okay. I like Jim Gordon.
Bruce Wayne's still not Batman, because he lost his memory and he's engaged to marry Julie Madison. Will he discard his happiness at the last minute to become Batman again? Goodness me, what do you think? This couldn't be more predictable, but, surprisingly, it's also dull. He gets some cool moments once he's back in costume (e.g. "Who died and made you Batman?"), but Julie and amnesi-Bruce never really came alive as characters. They weren't tested. They faced nothing. Their scenes were just "we're being happy and nice". I've nothing against nice people, but this pair hadn't even remotely done enough to earn our emotional investment. The nearest we get, actually, is a goofy coincidence about Julie's father being a gun runner who probably sold the gun to Joe Chill that shot Bruce's parents. This is mentioned once and then immediately, bizarrely, thrown away.
Besides, we'd never bought it in the first place. Batman or whoever dying, or being replaced, or having his back broken, etc. is just comics being comics, isn't it?
The villain, Bloom, is faceless. This has, oddly, been almost a motif of Snyder's run. The Red Hood and his gang were faceless, by definition. The Court of Owls, ditto. Clayface, ditto. The Joker when he'd had his face cut off, literally. Unfortunately, I think this has demonstrated that faces are more interesting.
Bat-Gordon's good, though. He's the closest thing to a reason to read this book. It's unfortunate that he's unrecognisable without his moustache, though.
All this has a certain empty kind of excitement, without really seeming to understand the basics of how to make a reader care. (Well, me, anyway.) I like Bloom's friendliness. I don't dislike the new Robin. I was startled to get a plot link to that Azzarello one-parter, because the gulf in quality and tone had made me put it in a different mental box.
Then, after that, there's a crazed postscript with cool, scratchy art by Sean Murphy. Seriously, it's off-the-charts mental. It's so mad that it's amusing, in a "what if?" way... and it's also important for Last Knight on Earth.
Did I like this book? "Like" would be an exaggeration, but it has some moments that would have been cool if the whole thing hadn't been a bit of a corpse underneath. I don't care about Bruce, Julie, the new Robin (to be honest), the cops or even poor tearful Alfred. He's spouting justifications for Wayne-is-not-Batman that theoretically makes sense but has no weight because you knew it would be overturned. Jim's good. The Joker's cameo scene is excellent. After that, my next favourite character might be... uh, Bloom? Our heroes' victory against him is oddly unclear, incidentally. We've had so many villain resurrections and new big monsters and so on that you might find yourself going back in search of the bit that confirms that our heroes did win after all.
For good or bad, this is a blockbuster ending. It gives Bruce Wayne a huge emotional decision. It might have been cool if it wasn't based on bollocks. Lots of action and big violence and stuff. I'm sure Bat-fans will think I'm being outrageously negative here.