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Batman #48

Review by Paul Bowler

Mr Bloom’s deadly seeds begin to flourish in Batman #48, unleashing an army that could turn everyone in Gotham against its new Batman. Gordon must face the chaos that Mr Bloom has unleashed on the city, but his robotic nano-carbon Bat-Suit has been destroyed, and the new Dark Knight is running out of options fast… Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne’s new life without the shadow of the Bat is thrown into turmoil, when he encounters a stranger whose return instigates a chain of events that might change Bruce’s life forever…

Batman #48 finds Jim Gordon reeling after the attack from Mr Bloom’s super-powered-seed army, just as he was on the verge of unmasking Gotham’s newest super villain. Now, as Batman emerges from the wreckage of the Bat-Truck, this eighth part of Scott Snyder’s and Greg Capullo’s Superheavy arc becomes a nail biting battle for survival for Jim as Mr Bloom’s grand design for Gotham blossoms amidst a super-powered riot of violence and damnation. Meanwhile, Bruce returned to the park bench where his new life began after Endgame, where he meets a mysterious man who also miraculously survived an “accident” nearby.

Yes, the Joker is back, and it seems the clown prince of crime has also survived Endgame without the memories of his past life, or so it would seem… Now that Bruce’s memories have begun to return following his argument with Duke and the haunting vision in the subway station in Batman #47, it is perhaps ironic that Bruce Wayne has met this man – who we are led to believe is the Joker – that also just happens to be in the same state of mind which Bruce found himself in after he survived the events of Endgame. I love the ambiguity of these scenes, Snyder has pitched it so well, and you will find yourself hanging on every word.

It is here, in Batman #48 that we begin to see how Snyder is brining the pieces of the Superheavy arc together. We’ve watched as Gordon stepped up to become Gotham‘s new Dark Knight, seen the introduction of the new robot Bat-Suit, addressed the very essence of what Batman really stands for, and witnessed the surprise return of the amnesic Bruce Wayne living a new life with Julie Madison and working at the Lucius Fox Center for Gotham Youth. Now in Batman #48 we have a chance meeting that sees Bruce and the Joker sitting on a park bench, as if they were just two ordinary guys, and with the menace posed by Mr Bloom also drawing notable comparisons with terror threats and social divisions now faced in the world today, everything is now eclipsed by the impending conclusion of what is Scott Snyder’s most innovative and cathartic Bruce Wayne story of all.

Batman #48 COVER

Just like the Joker was to Bruce’s Dark Knight, in many ways Mr Bloom has become the arch nemesis to Gordon’s new Batman, and this issue presents Gotham’s new super-villain with a chance to really up his game. With the seeds of Mr Bloom’s influence now sprouting like weeds from the cracks in society all over Gotham, the full extent of Mr Bloom’s powers, his plans for Gotham, and its citizens becomes clear. Even Jim finds himself unable to escape from the gip of his foes schemes and paraded as an example to reinforce Mr Bloom’s warped ideology. Yet, on a park bench, the lives of Bruce Wayne and the Joker have been inexorably drawn together in Gotham once again, but this time their fates are converging from drastically different perspectives, and it’s a sure bet everything will hinge on the outcome of this bizarre turn of events.

Snyder has explored the dark, almost symbiotic parallels between the Dark Knight and the Clown Prince of Crime in ways that few could have imagined possible: from the raw terror unleashed on the Bat-Family by the Joker in Death of the Family, the early origins were then revisited in Zero Year and remoulded, before the savage showdown in Endgame brought both of their worlds crashing down around them, and now we reach a point where everything culminates with their resurrection in Superheavy. Of course the sublime twist this time is that Bruce and the Joker now find themselves on the opposite sides of the mirror. The scenes here on the park bench between Bruce and the Joker are some of the most intense, thought-provoking, and memorable that Snyder has ever written for the characters. Yes, Jim Gordon’s role as the new Batman has been fascinating to explore, all the new gadgets, the Bat-Bot, and giant robots are great fun, but these are the moments that now repay our faith in Snyder and the entirety of this arc as a whole.

Greg Capullo has certainly pulled out all the stops for this issue. Every page is a mesmerising tour de force of striking visuals from Capullo, from Gordon confronting the unnervingly creepy Mr Bloom and the onslaught of his super-seed-powered doppelgangers, to the beautifully crafted scenes with Bruce and the Joker, and Mr Bloom’s monstrous new form, Capullo’s work on Batman #48 is some of his finest ever. Danny Miki’s inks bring added definition and clarity to every page and FCO Plascencia’s sumptuous use of color immerse us totally in the atmosphere of the story. The sheer scope and scale of this issue is immense: from the turmoil sweeping across Gotham, Mr Bloom cuts a swath of terror that slices right into the very heart of the city itself, unearthing the dark parallels with many contemporary issues, and the scenes in the park resonate powerfully with the raw emotion of the decision that Bruce knows he now faces. The team on this book are simply amazing, the story, the art, it all clicks together so perfectly and it makes every issue breathtaking to read.

Batman #48 is a resounding success on every level. Frankly, if this issue doesn’t dispel any doubts you might have had about this arc; then nothing will! The thrilling events over the final pages will have you on the edge of your seat as horror strikes at everything Bruce has come to cherish, while Gotham and Gordon writhe in Mr Bloom’s clutches, the path to the island of stability goes critical, and Geri Powers finally gives the order we‘ve all been waiting for. But nothing, absolutely nothing can compare to the way the heartbreaking closing scene kicks the door in at the last possible moment to make your jaw hit the floor…

So, after the all shocking events in this issue, were will things go from here? Will Bruce end up having to give up his new life with Julie Madison and his work at the Lucius Fox Center for Gotham Youth helping the deprived areas of Gotham to become Batman again? After all, that “final invention” is still sitting there in the Bat Cave gathering dust. Could it be that the Joker will end up being the one that ironically gets the chance of a new life instead of Bruce? Whatever the final outcome, I’m sure Snyder’s labyrinthine imagination has conjured up a resolution in Batman #50 that will completely blow our minds, and we won’t even see it coming!

Publisher DC Comics / Writer: Scott Snyder / Art: Greg Capullo

Inks: Danny Miki / Colors: FCO Plascencia / Letters: Steve Wands