Review: Batman #4 – Scott Snyder Remains Flawless

Iann's choice for Writer of the Year for 2011 continues to make each issue better than the last.

Iann Robinsonby Iann Robinson

Batman #4

This is a terrifying time for me in the world of Batman. Not because the caped crusader is vying against a new and dangerous villain. Not because the peril is deeper and the stakes are higher. No, I’m scared because writer Scott Snyder has yet to make a real mistake. His grip on the Batman legend is tightening, his contributions to the make up of the Dark Knight’s history is getting richer and the man simply can’t write a bad comic. Batman #4 is another triumph for Snyder in both story and execution.

Batman has been getting roughed up. This new villain, The Talon, and the Court Of Owls for which he works, have been serving Batman his own ass repeatedly. Issue 4 opens with the latest serving. Batman escapes the total destruction of a secret lair he discovered within the construction of a building built by Wayne Industries. Batman has found several of these lairs, all claiming to be part of the Court Of Owls. While the rest of his friends are convinced these lairs go back as far as the 19th century, The Dark Knight remains skeptical.

Here’s where Snyder’s genius kicks in. Instead of having Batman explain that he’s not convinced the age old story of the Court Of Owl’s is true on a “hunch,” Snyder brings in a deeper story of Bruce Wayne’s childhood. He actually guides us through Bruce’s first case as a detective long before heading overseas to be trained for his ultimate mission. The young Bruce looks to uncover the Court Of Owls and prove they were behind the murder of his parents. What he finds both disappoints Bruce and nearly kills him. Snyder deftly adds another layer to the story of Bruce Wayne as well as deepening his own tale. There’s also a nice moment that shows just how long Alfred has been saving Bruce’s ass. Snyder’s final page is great because it creates just as many questions as it answers.

My fear rises with issue #4 because it’s so good. It’s better than issue #3, which was better than issue #2. Since landing in the Batman world Snyder has done more for it than any writer since Frank Miller. With such a consistent stream of brilliance, I worry that Snyder will burn out and I’d hate that. It’s been a long time since I’ve really loved a writer, to the point that I’d read anything he put out even if I hated the subject matter. This entire Court Of The Owl story arc could be one of the most important in strengthening the history of Batman since Year One and that’s a lot of pressure on Snyder. I have faith he can do it, but I still get scared.

Art wise, Greg Capullo remains on point. I love the way this guy draws Batman. He could easily become one of my favorite Batman pencilers. He makes the Dark Knight bigger than life, dark and ominous. I love Capullo’s ability with action and movement. The entire opening escape sequence is a visceral experience. Capullo’s mix of light touch and detail-oriented pencils with harder lines is a nice juxtaposition. It brings out the dark flavors of Scott Snyder’s story.  Batman #4 continues to prove why I’ve chosen Scott Snyder as my writer of the year for 2011.