Artist: Greg Capullo
This is easily one of my favourite series that's out the now, and although being a huge Batman fan's probably the reason for that, the series itself is still brilliant, and although it's not always outstanding, it's always interesting, and usually entertaining.
The Gotham City Police Department are outside a bank waiting for the robber to appear, and when the robber exits the bank, with a hostage, it's none other than... Bruce Wayne!
Ghost Lights Part 1
Batman is visited by Superman who is worried about Batman's emotional state. However they don't have time to chat as they start investigating a mysterious event.
This was a brilliant issue, and a terrific start to the two part story that fills the gap till Year Zero. Scott Snyder has been doing a brilliant job on this series, and although it's not quite been as good since the end of Death of the Family, I never really expected it would until at least the start of Year Zero. This issue itself is still fantastic, and although it's not an entirely original story, with slightly similar stories being done before, it's still unique enough, and most idea's for Batman have probably been done to a certain extent already anyway. Although in the finish up I felt the outcome was a little obvious, I personally couldn't work it out at the start, so mystery wise it was nice and interesting for me, but the sharper mind may work it out a lot quicker than I did, and I'm surprised that I didn't work it out straight away. Snyder also did a brilliant job of continuing with the fact that Robin's (Damian Wayne) dead, and although he didn't go into a lot of detail with it, it was still nice to see that Batman's still morning (something which I expect he'll be doing for a while).
The art from Greg Capullo was phenomenal, and I'm glad that he's back as the artist, as although Andy Kubert's art wasn't bad in the last issue, it didn't really suit Snyder's style of story, whereas Capullo's artwork has really suited it. Anyway, Capullo's art was nothing short of fascinating, and the detail was superb, with ton's of small details being perfect, which was really nice. The way Capullo draws the characters is also amazing, as although he draws the darker side of Batman fabulously, he also manages to draw simple civilians brilliantly. I also loved how he drew this darker side to Bruce Wayne, as whether this is actually Bruce's own actions or not (I won't spoil it for you) Capullo showed this darkness on Bruce's face brilliantly, and you could tell that he had evil, and twisted thoughts going through his mind, which was nice. The way Capullo lays out his artwork is also fantastic, as it adds a lot of drama, and along with the emotion that he shows in the characters facial expressions, it really gives a lot more drama, and tone to the story.
This story started with the police facing a bank robber that was revealed to be Bruce Wayne, which was a brilliant and shocking opening to this two part story, and although I expected something big, and volatile from this story, I wasn't quite expecting this, so I was quite happy with the surprise. I know that Bruce will be going through a lot with the death of his son not being that long ago, but he surely wouldn't go to lengths like this, so there's a clear indication that these aren't his own actions, and that there's most likely some mind control, involved, or that this is an imposter. I still won't reveal whether this is the case as to avoid spoilers, but these are the thoughts that I had when I started reading this, as with the moral code that Bruce keeps as both Bruce Wayne and Batman wouldn't be broken over the death of a loved one, even if he was emotionally unstable. It was however a nice twist, and I found it very interesting, and I look forward to seeing how it develops.
The question I also asked myself was what the police will think of Bruce Wayne following this, whether it was him or not, as due to it being a person with his likeness the fall would go to him. I still won't spoil whether this is actually Bruce or not, but I personally think that even if it was to be revealed that it was someone else that it'd be a good thing if the police didn't know this. I say that as it'd make a great twist to the series, with the police looking for Bruce Wayne, and him not being able to go out in the day, unless in a disguise, which would either help Batman's life as a vigilante, or hinder it. Now I know that similar has been done in Bruce Wayne: Fugitive, but I didn't read that (meaning to get a hold of it) so I don't know exactly what happened, but I still think it'd be a good change to the series, and with Year Zero coming up it'd leave it possibly dormant for quite a while. Despite that I think that the police will learn the truth, and that it won't affect the future of the series a great deal, but it'd be nice if it did.
The story then jumped back six days showing Batman squaring off against Reaper, with Robin. I liked this sequence as it was brilliant to see Damian alive again, as I'm still rather upset that he died, but besides that it made for a brilliant transition showing Batman in the Batcave morning. The two sequences together were probably truly brilliant, as the one that featured Damian felt very cheerful, and fun, whereas when it's reminded that he's dead it gets awful dark, and morbid, which was a brilliant contrast. I did however find it slightly weird continuity wise that Alfred was still there as in Batman, Incorporated #9 Bruce told him to go on vacation. I know that even though it's canon, Batman, Incorporated hasn't always been the best series continuity wise, with the other series having to fit around it. It could simply be that Alfred never adhered to what Bruce told him in Batman Inc. #9, but it still posts questions, and also shows that even though DC try to have there series close continuity wise, that it doesn't always succeed. I also really liked how Capollo drew Batman all dark, just having his eye slits white, as this kind of reminded me of the 90's Animated series.
The back-up story, Ghost Lights was written by James Tynion IV, and drawn by Alex Maleev, which had Batman and Superman investigating a mystical event. I've really enjoyed the back-up stories that Tynion IV has been writing in this series, and have been looking forward to him taking over Red Hood and the Outlaws (even though I liked Scott Lobdell's work on the series), and have even considered getting his Talon series (especially after a connecting story that featured in Detective Comics #19), but this wasn't as good as the previous stories I've read. Don't get me wrong there were parts I liked, and I'm pretty sure I'll prefer the second half, but this felt a bit short, and not very informative, going quite slow. I did however like the appearance from Superman, as it was nice to see him in Batman's hour of need, and it also gives a nice tease to the upcoming Superman/Batman series. I also liked the mystical element of the story, and with the brilliant cliffhanger ending believe that it will have a very interesting and entertaining ending. Maleev's art was also perfect for this story, and although I'm not to fond of how he draws Superman, he draws Batman brilliantly, and really gives the dark feel that is needed to a Batman story, and I might even continue getting Batman: The Dark Knight which I was considering dropping seems he's doing the art on the next story (but that's a big maybe), as I've really enjoyed his art on the previous two issues of this, as well as the double page additional art in Detective Comics #19. Anyway, this was overall an interesting story, but it was a bit slow, which was disappointing, but I'm sure it'll pick up in the final part.
This was a fantastic issue, and although not quite to the level of Death of the Family, it was very enjoyable, and I'm sure the conclusion will be amazing. It was however very interesting, and quite mysterious, and although it borrowed elements from previous stories it still felt unique, which was a bonus. I would highly recommend this as it was fun, and interesting, but if you are seriously strapped for cash it's easily missable, as although it references Year Zero I doubt that it will affect it (especially considering Year Zero's meant to have happened prior to the start of this series).