Mr. Bloom is not the next Joker. The he/she/it’s “the next” sentiment has become almost as overused and misused as much as the word “epic” over the past few years. It’s an unfortunate issue that many fans and critics face when trying to develop a way of expressing how essential a given book/film is to the masses in hopes that they will be able to convince them on how well done said thing is. With today’s release (8/12/2015) of Batman issue 43, many have speculated on this issue being this week’s sell-out title. Why? Batman 43 features the debut of a brand new villain named Mr. Bloom and many are calling him the next Joker. He’s extremely thin, tall in an unsettling way, and his face is concealed with a white covering with an image of a blooming yellow flower. He doesn’t appear all that much within issue 43 as the story works more as a steady buildup to his reveal, but upon his arrival, Mr. Bloom might very well be the next best villain (if not better) than the Joker! He’s certainly not the next.
There’s a certain sentiment that I’ve hopefully alluded to about Batman in my past writings about him. He’s positively one of the most iconic of heroes and he’s been at the forefront of the DC Comics machine since 2005’s Batman Begins. Outside of a classic animated series which we’re in the process of recapping, Batman exists in extremes. He’s either well written and developed in such a way that entertains just about everyone, or he’s utilized in such campy material that no one wishes to associate with him. With Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s run on The Dark Knight, DC have maintained an almost four year run that remains a critical and fan darling; a best seller each month, their work has ensured Batman’s chief residence among the rest of DC’s properties. Snyder and Capullo’s work is so strong and smartly created that there is absolutely no hesitation when placing their work up there with Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski of Batman Animated, along with Christopher and Jonathan Nolan’s take on The Dark Knight Trilogy. Batman issue 43, in fact, feels like a cousin of the Nolan’s work on Batman as it shares the same thematic DNA.
For those wondering if Bruce Wayne/Batman really died during the conclusion of Snyder and Capullo’s previous arc Endgame, issue 43 has the answers. Yes, Bruce Wayne/Batman died, along with the Joker, during the cave in while they fought each other to the death. Scott Snyder does not choose to undermine his previous story and owns up to his own creative decision. It’s a brilliant choice in story direction and feels organic to the overall Batman mythology and iconography. Issue 43 opens with Gordon (now Batman) confronting Bruce Wayne, currently at work with the Lucius Fox Center for Gotham Youth. “I’m Batman and I need your help” he asks and we’re faced with the new status quo of Batman. Bruce Wayne is no longer Batman. Jim Gordon is. Okay, so if Bruce Wayne died during Endgame, how is Gordon speaking with him now? We learn that the dionesium found in the springs where the cave in occurred “must have seeped into his broken skull, healed the dead tissue, but in doing so, it brought him back new.” While it may seem like an overstretched plot device, the usage of dionesium is one of the more intriguing elements of the plot and has provided us with another interesting setup for Bruce Wayne. There’s a flashback in issue 43 featuring Alfred recounting when he first met Bruce, after the cave in, to Clark Kent. This sequence, while being extremely dialogue heavy, is a stand out within the issue as Snyder skillfully reinforces our relationship with Bruce Wayne/Batman.
Despite the Batman title, post-Convergence, no longer featuring Bruce as the Bat, the Gordon-centric series doesn’t betray the basic foundations of the Batman story and if you’re a true fan, there is absolutely no reason why you won’t enjoy this current story arc. While Gordon has been the primary focus of all Batman related comics such as this one, along with Batman Detective Comics and Batman Superman, he does seem to take a back seat in issue 43. It isn’t a misstep in the slightest as we get our well earned and much deserved exposition that clarifies Bruce Wayne’s place in the DC Universe going forward (or at least temporarily.) There are several ideas that are presented in issue 43 that reflect back on the work Scott Snyder did on Detective Comics issue 27 and the Future’s End one-shot. Alfred explains to Clark Kent that Bruce Wayne had plans to develop a machine “meant to ensure that there would always be a Batman.” We’ve seen the prospect of Batman clones existing well into the future, but here we see the very start of that idea. It’s a small enough development, but a large enough clue to suggest that there’s more going on with Snyder’s writing than we may realize. Not many other writers have accomplished with their series what Snyder and Capullo have accomplished with Batman. Batman issue 43 is like that of the cover by Greg Capullo – a field of endless blooming flowers. It’s a story filled with many possibilities and it’s hard to decide which one will be the brightest.
Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s work on Batman issue 43 is a major title for this week. I strongly urge fans to seek out this issue as fast as they can as it will easily sell quick. There may also be a major death of a Batman character in it, as well. But why should I spoil all the fun you’ll have reading it?
Batman issue 43 gets five stars.
A few stray thoughts:
- Greg Capullo consistently delivers what could possibly be the best looking series by DC Comics. The inks by Danny Miki and colors by FCO Plascencia are terrific and the final page brings to mind the eeriness of Capullo’s work on Spawn, notably the Violator.
- Scott Snyder loves to write and that much is evident based on the size of each issue, along with how much dialogue he fits into each story. Batman issue 43 is a story and a well-written one!
- Even though Bruce Wayne is no longer Batman, Snyder maintains his world by giving us Alfred, Julie Madison and The Penguin. The characters never seem as if they’re forced into a story they don’t belong and lead us to believe that anything is possible withing Snyder and Capullo’s Batman.