Scott Snyder reprises his role as Dark Knight scribe in Batman #1 with art by Spawn and Haunt penciler Greg Capullo.
Batman #1 opens with the eponymous hero following up on a lead on a crooked guard inside Arkham Asylum. The scene starts the series with a bang, pitting Batman against reworked iterations of villains, new and old, like the Riddler with a question-mark mohawk, a sack-masked Pyg, and a Scarecrow that looks an awful lot like Christopher Nolan's rendition. All the while, the vigilante's narrative delineates the nature of Gotham City as it relates to its heroes and villains. After the thrilling and insightful prologue, Scott Snyder delves deeper into the world of Gotham, Batman, and his alter-ego Bruce Wayne.
Batman #1 is a formidable juxtaposition of Bruce Wayne and Batman, introducing his support group (Alfred, Dick, Tim, Damien, and, to a lesser extent, Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock) as well as a growing cast of tertiary characters, like a new mayoral hopeful and the return of Vicki Vale. Snyder's literary approach to developing his players into something transcendent of the mere paper and ink that they are composed of grants most of these characters a fantastic dimensionality even in brief cameos. And, Bruce Wayne--well, we completely get the lay of his psychological land already from just these twenty-two illustrated pages. His pathology is readily apparent; his drive even moreso.
The issue closes with the start of a new mystery, involving the gruesome murder of a John Doe and an ominous message to Bruce Wayne, and one heck of a cliffhanger. Admirably Snyder doesn't hold his readers' hands on this ride. Acronyms are either known or the reader will have to cross-reference with the internet. Allusions and motifs have the subtlety of a literary work. Like Snyder's past contributions in Detective Comics, or perhaps even more evident here, this reads like a mystery thriller for people that actually want to read a great story; a story with substance; a story with depth.
Greg Capullo's arrival to the mainstream couldn't come too soon. His stylized, exaggerated characters, noir city-scapes, and gritty pulp sensibilities paired with Glapion and Plascencia's finishes are absolutely gorgeous. I won't be able to stop looking at this issue for a while. This is a pitch-perfect tuning to the Batman franchise.