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I’ve been gushing about Scott Snyder’s work on Batman here and elsewhere for quite some time. I first came across his great ability to write the character when he was doing his stint on Detective Comics. Batman #10 proves that Scott Snyder is one of the most incredible writers we have in the comic book industry right now. There’s still one more issue in this arc, but this one truly brings everything from the last year together.
It’s very hard to explain how great this issue is without ruining the big reveal, but I’ll do my best. First of all, Scott has mastered the technique of messing with the user’s emotions by making them think Batman’s about to succeed and then dashing it away. Pixar famously uses this for dramatic tension in their movies. Second, the main twist in this issue pays off in more than one way. Not only has he been planting clues in previous issues, but he’s also borrowing some ideas from previous continuities like pre-New 52 and even Silver Age Batman to give a treat to long-time fans. Don’t take that to mean it won’t work for newer readers. He’s just doing what Grant Morrison also often does so successfully – find a way to bring elements from the wacky Golden and Silver Age into the present in a way that makes sense. Third, the pacing and narration are perfect. This feels and sounds like Batman. Too often writers lose the essentials of the character when writing him. Snyder’s Batman is methodical and truly seems to be the World’s Greatest Detective. Snyder’s great job there is part of the reason why I dislike the way Batman is written in Detective Comics and Batman: The Dark Knight. (My secret wish would be for him to write all four titles the way all the X-Men titles were under Claremont’s purview in the 90s) Greg Capullo’s art in the main story is also perfectly spot-on. His fight scenes work perfectly. He has a perfect mix of shadow and brightness so that it feels like a proper Batman book without muddling the action.
The backup, co-plotted by James Tynion IV, continues the story of Alfred’s father and how the Court of Owls was targeting the Waynes at the time. It appears to back up the claims (no pun intended) of the crazy reveal/twist of the main story, but it’s possible to interpret the information in two ways. We won’t know until next issue whether or not lies were told to us. The backup art is done by Rafeal Albuquerque, who works with Snyder on American Vampire. It sets a pretty great tone for what’s happening within the story and was a great use of his talents.
This really is the worst issue to pick up if you haven’t been reading Batman since the New 52 relaunch. While the writing and art remain very tight in this issue, a lot of the impact of the payoff is lost if you haven’t been along for the ride for the past ten months. I’d recommend getting the first trade and then catching up with back issues from your local comic shop. If not, make sure you’re there for the next arc because Snyder has promised to top even this one.