Scott Snyder will be largely credited for the identity of the New 52 Batman. Grant Morrison’s ideas were carried over, but have slowly been retired, starting with Joker and moving on to Damian in recent months. Snyder, however, has introduced the Court of Owls, a new take on Joker and has begun his Zero Year storyline which reveals Batman’s early goings. This week Snyder is credited for the story behind Batman: Annual #2 which touches on a new villain who sprouted from Zero Year. Annuals have a tendency to be great done-in-one stories, but that doesn’t guarantee a gem…is it good?
Batman (2011-): Annual #2 (DC Comics)
Missed our review of Batman: The Dark Knight Annual #1? Click here to read it!
This issue opens with a new hire at Arkham Asylum who’s bright eyed and bushy tailed. Coming from the good natured Metropolis, the man truly believes all of the inmates at Arkham can be helped. It just so happens his first day on the job is the same day Batman is testing a new advanced wing of the asylum to hold the trickier inmates. This wing is operational by computer alone, which puts Batman all by himself. Let’s hope there isn’t any wall phasing villains to worry about!
Ain’t he cute.
This issue is incredibly easy to read for any level of Batman fan. The story takes place now-ish, but flashes back to Zero Year to introduce a new villain. Writer Marguerite Bennett does a good job introducing the new Arkham employee, but her real strength comes in characterizing the new villain. This woman is extremely old, was part of a Quantum accident, and can phase through walls. The hook to her character is an interesting one. She came to Arkham under her own volition years before the real crazies showed up to get help. She blames Batman for turning Arkham into a madhouse that’s more focused on the ultra nutsos which has hampered her rehabilitation.
Fun sequence watching Batman break out of Arkham.
Before she is introduced, Batman gets to break out of all that Arkham can throw at him. It’s a fun sequence of events as he speaks to how each of his rogues could escape the different hurdles. It also allows for a bit of action in between the character introductions.
Joker from Dark Knight agrees!
Pencils are by Wes Craig, and they go from a detailed look, to cartoony, then on to sketchy. Why is this so? Well, that’s because there were six inkers on this book! If you ever wanted to see how important an inker can be to a comic book, this is the one to check out. Even though it’s the same penciler on every page the inks change things so much you’d swear it was done by different artists. This may have been on purpose to some extent, as our new villain has a more horror feel to her, and the inking on her pages do feel a little more ragged and horrific. Either way, the art throughout is sharp, clear and interesting.
- Interesting new character introduced
- Fun Arkham plot
- The inking might throw you off
- The Batman mythos isn’t added to
This issue has a lot to like, from a new interesting villain with a fresh backstory you’ve never seen, to a fun sequence showing Batman work his way out of the traps of Arkham. The Zero Year tie in is skippable though, as it isn’t very important and only marginally ties into anything of value in the grand scheme of things. The story also doesn’t delve too deeply into Batman’s story, but rather is focused more on the new villain. The new Arkham employee doesn’t get much characterization either, standing in as yet another cliched do gooder who wants to heal the nutsos of Gotham.
That said, for what it does, introducing a new villain, it does well.
Is It Good?
Yes. A good done-in-one read about a new interesting villain. Not interested in a new villain you may not see for a year or more? Skip it.