Batman 25

Batman 25

Today, Mikyzptlk and Shelby are discussing Batman 25, originally released November 13th, 2013

MikyzptlkFrom the moment that Zero Year was first announced, it has been shrouded in mystery. What exactly was the “Zero Year” and how would it change the origin of Batman that we’ve been familiar with for so long? We are now five issues into the story, and while some of the mysteries are becoming clear, there seems to be tons of new ones cropping up left and right. Issue 25 of Batman is no exception. At the same time, we are introduced to a brand new/really old Batman villain that may just be revealing more about our hero than he is about himself at this point. 

Since the city’s power was knocked out by the Riddler, Batman has been helping those he can, providing them with food and flashlights. Meanwhile, the city’s power grid is being repaired, and Batman has developed a machine that will stop Riddler from taking it out again, should he decide to do so. Batman has also been investigating a slew of bizarre murders, where the victims have been injected with a mysterious substance that has their bones growing out of control. The GCPD think this is Batman’s doing, because reasons, and are on the hunt for the Dark Knight.  Batman discovers that Wayne Enterprises is the actual source of the substance, and visits his old friend Lucius Fox, who is currently employed by Gotham University. Before they get too far along in their conversation, Lucius knocks Bruce out with some kind of injection, as the true culprit of the bone-growth substance reveals himself. 

Dr. DeathMr. GQ up there goes by the name of Dr. Death. He once worked for Wayne Enterprises developing a serum that would help bones increase their density should they face trauma. It seems like it’s working perfectly! Well, anyway, Dr. Death is only one of the new mysteries introduced in this issue. We know he is most likely an ex-Wayne employee, and we learn why he might be attacking people. Of course, I’m sure there is another layer to this villain, as he seems to have some kind of relationship with long time Bruce Wayne and Batman ally, Lucius Fox. Lucius does something definitively out of character, which might add another potential twist to who Dr. Death really is.

Scott Snyder recreates one of Batman’s oldest foes in an interesting way. From his earliest appearance, Dr. Death has been characterized as a mad scientist who uses deadly chemicals to do his dastardly thing. This time though, Snyder has Dr. Death using a chemical that causes bones to grow out of control until it rips his victims apart from the inside out. I wonder if this is meant to be a metaphor for Gotham City and even Batman himself.

Gotham’s costumed villains are starting to crop up more and more, causing increased mayhem and death along the way. Not only are these villains fellow Gothamites attacking their own, but their schemes, especially the Riddler’s power-outage, is causing other people in Gotham to turn on one another. In essence, the city is being ripped apart from the inside out. Alfred may also be showing signs that he thinks that “Batman” may be starting to tear Bruce apart from the inside out as well.

Alfred is concernedWhen I picked up this issue, I was sure I was going to be seeing the next chapter of “Batman vs. Riddler.” However, Snyder surprised me here with the reintroduction and focus on a relatively obscure Batman villain. Of course, if my analysis is correct, Snyder is using Dr. Death in a way that all of the best villains are used, in that he is being used to say something about our hero.

Not only that, but Dr. Death’s grisly attacks and gruesome visage produce pitch-perfect entertainment for a Batman comic, even if I didn’t get what I was expecting. That said, it’s not like we didn’t get any developments on the Riddler front. In fact, Snyder does a pretty incredible job of advancing a lot of different story beats. One of my favorite beats involves the relationship between Lieutenant Gordon and Bruce Wayne.

On the one hand, Gordon seems to be getting used to the idea of having Batman around, as he knows that the Caped Crusader has been helping the citizens of Gotham. On the other hand, Bruce Wayne seems to have some serious issues with James Gordon.

Past mistakesThis is quite possibly the most tantalizing mystery offered in this issue. Just what the hell did Gordon have to do with the Wayne’s deaths? This provides us with an interesting and novel chapter into the lives of these characters, and it’s an interesting reverse to what we’ve normally seen with them. Normally, Bruce and James have more of a neutral or professionally pleasant relationship, while Batman and Gordon always seem to get off on the wrong foot initially (as cops and vigilantes are wont to do). Speaking of tantalizing mysteries, there is another one presented in this issue that is somehow connected to Zero Year as well.

Tokyo Moon“Tokyo Moon” was also scrawled on one of Edward Nygma’s many post-it notes, seen back in issue 21. Unfortunately, that’s really the only thing I know about this, other than the fact that whatever it is appears to be is located in a hole in the ground in the desert. Shelby, can you make anything else out of this or any of the other mysteries explored in this issue? Also, do you have anything  to say about the back-up? I enjoyed seeing Harper Row again, did you?

Shelby: Yes and no. I do like Harper and the role she’s come to play in Batman’s life, but the backup just seemed a little redundant. It’s a story I already knew, and I don’t know for sure if there was any benefit to actually reading it instead of just inferring it.

This alternate history of Gotham Snyder is crafting intrigues me. Remember, this story takes place six years before Death of the Family, Night of the Owls, all that jazz. We all know the canon of Bruce’s early times under the cowl. And yet, here we find ourselves prepping for a broken and mostly underwater city, a betrayal by Lucius Fox, secret-keeping from Jim Gordon. I think Bruce’s exchange with Gordon is my favorite part of the issue.

bruce and jim

A lot of what I like here has to do with Greg Capullo’s pencils and Danny Miki’s inks. All of the Batman stuff in this issue is almost candy-colored: lots of purple skies and orange highlights. All the Dr. Death stuff has a sickly, greenish cast to it. This scene is jarringly drab in comparison; everything has a gray wash to it. In stripping away the more garish color scheme, we’ve gotten to the heart of the issue. No more costumed vigilantes in fucking sweet hot rods, no more horrifyingly mutilated murder victims, this story is the story of these men: the men they were and the men they become. Gordon, as a brash young man, made a mistake and was forced to keep a secret. Bruce is currently a brash young man, also forced to keep a secret. All the neat stuff happening with the Riddler, Dr. Death, Lucius, is window dressing; the real story is about Bruce becoming Batman, and I think Jim Gordon is going to play a bigger role in that transformation than I previously thought.  

For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page.  Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore.  If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to DC’s website and and download issues there.  There’s no need to pirate, right?

21 comments on “Batman 25

  1. I couldn’t get past the sticker shock. Why was this $4.99? Same number of pages. Did they gouge me for an extra buck because of the cover and it being issue 25? I’m starting to try to be more conscious of what they’re charging me. If you’re going to go $3.99 it better have extra pages (DC) or free online comic (Marvel). If you can’t offer that, you better be something I can’t get or see anywhere else. So what was up with the $4.99?

    It was standard Snyder/Capullo Batman fare: Quality work and the best Bat-title out there.

    I’ve dropped the rest of my Bat-books, but will pick up Detective when the Flash guys (I’m sure they love being called that) take over in a month or two.

    • I have to agree with you there, I didn’t realise it was 4.99$ right away since I was getting a trade at the same time but it did kind of shock me when I did find out, seeing how, as you say, we’re seemingly not getting any bonus content for the extra buck. While we’re on the subject of grievances, am I the only one who’s a bit dissapointed that during zero year we’re getting 3 pretty much identical covers just colored differently? They’re not ugly per se, but they’re damn boring to me, and since Capullo generally provides really awesome covers, it’s all the more dissapointing to have to settle for these.

      Content wise however, this issue totally delivered and was my favorite since Batman 17. We get back to the more detective-y feel which I love and mysteries abound! Mik, do you have a really awesome memory or did you research Tokyo Moon to find out it was in Riddler’s office? Either way, that part of the issue left me utterly perplexed but very curious, and although now it seems there’s a link to Nygma, I have a tough time imagining him have enough assets/a large-scale enough plan to be planting shit in Nigeria. Maybe I’m jumping to conclusions, but to me, hidden lairs in the desert spell out Ra’s al Ghul.

      The friction between Bruce and Gordon is also really intriguing; obviously we know they make up eventually so I’m very eager to find out exactly what Gordon did and why. Also, Lucis Fox WTF!!!?!

      All in all, a solid issue that makes me the most excited I’ve been for this whole story since it all began.

      • Gino, my goldfish has a better memory than I do, I’m sorry to say. I was actually trying to figure out if Tokyo Moon was a reference of some kind, and that’s when I read about it being mentioned previously. I couldn’t find anything about the potential meaning of Tokyo Moon (other than it’s an actual sushi restaurant, so I’m pretty sure it’s not that! LOL). I even put it through an anagram decoder to no avail.

        As for Ra’s, yeah, I’m thinking it might have something to do with him too. I’ve read that some people think that scorpion in the desert is a direct reference to him.

        • Ya for some reason the scorpion tickled my brain too but I can’t quite put my finer on why just now. Also, I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who doesn’t have a bionic memory for details!

        • The writers of Justice League 3000 gave us that unique masterpiece called Justice League International, so I meant to give their new title a try, but then I realized that I can’t widen my pull list because of my narrow budget. What about you? Are you going to buy DC’s latest titles?

    • There was a lot of sticker shock for me this week: I think all the Zero Year tie-ins, such as Batgirl and Nightwing, were 3.99 instead of their usual price, but at least those had some extra pages.

      I actually thought the black-out cover was pretty cool. As for the issue itself, I was disappointed to not see any more Riddler, but I love the new take on Dr. Death and the Jim/Bruce relationship, so I can’t wait to see more of that.

      • Yeah, almost all the books I bought this week (including Marvel titles) were $3.99…this might just be the new norm for comics pricing (which seems strange, given that DC seemed to draw a line at $2.99 when the New 52 launched. I get that prices will always go up (inflation is a bitch), but a 33% increase within two years is hard to swallow.

      • According to the November solicits Batman 25 has 40 pages instead of 32, though to be honest I can’t be bothered to dig it back out and count them. Looking through solicits in general, the trend I’m seeing is DC is making everything they can get away with 3.99$ (i.e. anything with Snyder’s name on it, most Batman and Superman stuff) regardless of page count; I saw some of the above mentionned go for 3.99 for 32 pages yet other stuff which also has 32 pages is still 2.99.

        As for the cover, I like this one, I’m just bothered by the fact the 21 was the same but in blue and that a later one I can’t recall the number for is the same thing in green. Once is cool and overall I think the black one is the most logical to keep, but three identical covers just recolored seems like a bit of a rip off to me.

        A lot of people mentioned missing Riddler but it didn’t bother me for some reason, I guess I like the idea of Batman having to juggle so many problems he doesn’t really have time to address that now, and I know there’ll be plenty of Riddler in issues to come.

  2. I’ll be giving them both a shot, I’ve been dropping titles left and right for months so I’ve got a little wiggle room now. I almost gave up on Harley before it even started because I really hate those covers (no offense meant to Amanda Conner, it’s all personal taste) but I saw a few early face studies but the guy who’ll be doing interiors and they’re the most Harley-looking of the new 52 (Capullo’s Batman 13 aside) so I’ve decided to give it a try.

    JL3K’s designs intrigue me. I’m pretty unfamiliar with the creative team (I know Porter a bit from 90’s JLA but I don’t want to judge him based on stuff from the 90’s, and the cool designs are his) so that gets a try as well. Hopefully they’re good, especially Harley; she’s really been getting the short end of the stick in the N52.

  3. About the price shock, I just checked the December solicits and if those are accurate, Bats should be back to 3.99$. I still haven’t the faintest idea why this one got bumped up though.

    • I think it’s just the embossed cover. DC switched to a higher weight on all of their covers (bumping everything up to $3.99), but this cover was more like cardstock, and had that raised lettering. I think most fans would rather have a regular cover for a regular price, but that doesn’t line DC’s pockets.

      • Ya, an extra buck for embossed lettering is a bit ludicrous. Here’s a few examples of what I was saying though; the following are November solicits all reported as having 32 pages. Wonder Woman, Animal Man, Swamp Thing are all 2.99, whereas most Justice League titles are 3.99, as is Batman/Superman and all the zero year tie-ins. Essentially, it comes down to DC knowing some titles will sell no matter what the price tag and raising the bar on those while leaving more marginal titles at 2.99$ so they can continue to move as many as possible.

  4. Surprised you guys didn’t mention the Pamela Isley cameo. I thought they did a great fake-out, making the victim look like he was impaled by plants, then showing her, before revealing that it was actually the victim’s own bones. Did we just see the event that set her down the path towards poisonous plant queen?

    • Not to contradict you, but Gordon mentiones the bones before we see Isley. Two things are interesting about that though,

      a) how does this influence her into becoming Poison Ivy as you say, but this can’t be all of it since she seems to have no powers at this point. That’ll be a reveal all its own, I think in the past she’d been experimented on by a biologoy doctor (Jason Woodrue of Swamp Thing fame, if memory serves) but given new 52 history they’ll have to go another way here. Plus, although this may disgust her with humans and what they can do, I don’t think that “they killed my mentor/some plants” brings us straight into the eco-terrorist we know and love.

      b) why is a former researches on bones now a “speculative botanist”, like, wouldn’t those be two very distinct fields? I wonder if there’s a thread to follow here or if this was simply overlooked.

      • Oops! Right you are. Still, my first thought when I saw the victim was “Poison Ivy,” and it was neat to have that sort-of pay off. I suspect that Pam will have a bit more agency in becoming Poison Ivy (a much-needed update, if you ask me), and I wouldn’t be surprised if the work they were doing in their lab was at least somewhat related to human biology (which might explain the bone research connection). I bet whatever research they were doing will ultimately be used to make her Poison Ivy.

        • Ya I’m curious to see what her new origin will be. I gotta say though, at the start of all this, I wasn’t expecting this many villain origins packed into one arc (not a complaint though, it all seems pretty organic, not just info dumping like most of the Villain’s month issues)

  5. Mik, I love your reading of Dr. Death’s victims as a microcosm of Gotham tearing itself apart. Gotham has always had more danger from within than anything, but this really drives home the notion of the city literally tearing itself apart. I wasn’t totally sold on Snyder’s updating on what Gothamites fear — I think I just like the idea of a chronically corrupt and violent city — but this issue really surprised me with how immediate that existential dread is. As much as I like the idea of the way Gotham used to be, that fear was never as relatable — or real — as it is here.

    • Thanks Drew! I don’t think I would have been looking for a deeper meaning of Dr. Death were it not for the fact that I was surprised to see him introduced at this point in the story. Like, I was totally expecting more from the Riddler, but then Snyder threw this guy at us, and it made me look twice at the guy. It’s such an interesting update to the character too, and it’s definitely one of my favorite N52 reimaginings so far.

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