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Darkest before the dawn, Batman returns to Gotham

By Alex Sferrazza
On April 17, 2014

Riddle me the night really darkest before the dawn?
It hasn't always proved a smooth ride but the "Zero Year" storyline has provided the "Batman" comics with some of the most exciting moments seen in the series in years. Issue No. 30 serves as a more than worthy addition to what has already been a fantastic series of comics.
Taking a bit of a cue from Christopher Nolan's film "The Dark Knight Rises," the issue features Bruce Wayne returning to a Gotham City that has more or less been completely lost. Riddler has defeated Batman and made Gotham City his own personal playground/ terrified-surveillance state. People die, buildings are overgrown and there's no way in or out. If anyone attempts to leave the city, Riddler threatens to unleash a flurry of deadly chemicals that will immediately pacify the population.
All seems lost and with the exception of a few holdouts (Batman, Alfred and Lt. Gordon) the population has lost the will to continue their fight.
If you think that the storyline sounds a bit cliché, you're correct. If you believe that makes the issue any less exciting, then you're way off.
Whereas issue 29 amounted to a non-stop, action-packed slugfest, issue 30 wisely spends the majority of the issue dealing with character development. The reactions of the populace of Gotham dealing with the tyranny of the Riddler and Bruce Wayne's mental fight over whether the battle is truly lost make up the bulk of the issue's content. It's a humanizing title, and rather then coming right out of the gate with a wild deus ex machina that sees Batman go from comatose to savior in a single issue, it's refreshing to see the title instead takes on the tone of "hey this is a real threat and the problem is way to big for any one person to solve."
Additionally, its fun to see Batman and Gordon's noble crusade clash with those of federal officials who sneak into the city. Rather than attempt to take Riddler out, the feds would rather pacify the terrorist with a massive payout. Of course, with Riddler being the psychotic nutjob that he is, he turns them down for the fun of it but it's nonetheless entertaining to see the attempt made.
The true highlight of this issue is the fantastic artwork by penciller Greg Capullo and inker Danny Miki. The vast scope of Riddler's takeover of Gotham is readily apparent the second we see a glimpse of the city's current state. The art style of "city overrun by plants" provides an interesting challenge for the duo and the heavy use of purple and orange in the artwork helps set the tone almost as well as the narrative.
Perhaps the title spends a tad too much time watching Bruce Wayne dwell over his "lost" city but on the whole, this is yet another well paced and well-written Batman issue by Scott Snyder. Issue 31 can't get here fast enough.

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