Overall, Scott Snyder’s run on the main Batman title is great. Not a lot of genuinely good things came out under the New 52 era, but this is definitely one of them. Good action, great emotional moments, there is a lot to enjoy.
Is it perfect? Well…no. But to be fair, the problems I do have with it have less to do with Snyder himself and more to do with how the New 52 itself was structured. Batman was involved with a lot of different titles (Batman, Batman Eternal, Batman Incorporated, Detective Comics, and so on). It can be heard to keep track of things. There were a few times in the main Batman series where it references an event that took place under a different title that I had no idea happened (Damian’s death, Gordon being locked up). The series tries to give you enough info to catch up, but I still felt confused and it took me out of enjoying the actual run. But like I said, when it comes to the actual stories and writing of “Batman”, it really is great and worth the read.
Now, here are some brief thoughts on some of the larger story arcs that came from “Batman”:
THE COURT OF OWLS: The first 11 issues had Batman deal with a brand new group of villains that have existed in Gotham for centuries. Bringing something new to the mythology is always a risk when it comes to a character as popular as Batman, but like the movie “Mask of the Phantasm”, it completely nails it and turned out pretty epic. However, since this is the very first arc of this series, this may set a pretty high bar for other arcs to be compared to which might be unfair.
DEATH OF THE FAMILY: On the one hand, nothing huge really happens. Joker comes back and targets Batman and the Bat Family. We don’t learn anything new about Joker himself. So on that end, it’s underwhelming. But on the other hand, we do actually get insight into how these versions of Batman and Joker view each other, how they behave. It is a decently written story, just not that huge.
ZERO YEAR: This arc tells roughly the first year of how Bruce Wayne went about fighting crime after returning back to Gotham after years of training around the globe. He takes on the Red Hood Gang (which may or may not have been lead by Joker) and takes on The Riddler after he manages to take over the city for several months. This arc is a pretty long one, I think this ended up being collected in 3 different trade paperbacks. Every once in a while, it would get interrupted by a special issue that takes place in the modern day but I would have no context what was going on. I have no idea why this arc went on for so long. Maybe it had something to do with events of a Justice League story? Despite this arc’s length, it actually is pretty good and this is my favorite take on Batman’s early years as a crime fighter.
ENDGAME: Another Joker focused story arc, but in my opinion a significant improvement over DOTF. Joker is back, fully healed, and poisons the city with his deadliest version of Joker Gas yet. Joker even seems to be making himself appear as some sort of immortal being who has always plagued Gotham. But it never really confirms if he is or not. Personally, I think not, but an argument can be made otherwise. It has great atmosphere and a fairly heavy final confrontation between the two characters at the very end of this arc.
SUPERHEAVY: As the city heals from Joker’s last attack, Batman is believed to be dead. Gotham decides to make it’s own Batman, one who works within the system and has approved and certified funding. Gordon is chosen to be Batman, and at first the arc does mainly focus on him. But as we go along, the focus turns to Bruce Wayne, who survived his final Joker fight but has seemed to lost memories of everything in his past. While we do get a look at what Batman might be if he worked within the system, this story is really about exploring the emotional toll being Batman has had on Alfred and to a certain extent Bruce as well.
Like I said, this run was a generally great run on the main Batman book.