Review: Batman #3

Scott Snyder takes his foot off the gas to give us some set-up for the next phase of his story.

Iann Robinsonby Iann Robinson

Batman #3

Batman #3 is one of those issues where you need to be in it for the long haul. Thus far in Scott Snyder’s look at the Dark Knight, things have happened at a fairly break neck speed. Events surrounding the Court Of Owls and the assassin trying to kill Bruce Wayne were set up, a mystery involving Dick Grayson was solved, and murders happened, it was a constant flow of action. With issue #3 Snyder steps back a bit and decides to lay out the next phase of his plan. This isn’t an issue with much action and it gets a tad verbose. Sometimes that’s the price you pay for great storytelling.

Kicking off with Batman confronting the Ukrainian mob was a smart choice for Snyder. The rest of the book being mostly exposition a few pages of the caped crusader slapping around mob muscles is a treat. From there, the story becomes a bit mired in set up. There’s a lengthy discussion between Alfred and Batman about the Wayne family history, then another lengthy conversation between Bruce Wayne and the new mayoral candidate. Even the final pages, where Snyder cleverly reveals how the Court Of Owls has worked its way into the infrastructure, is mostly exposition.

It’s not to say that Batman #3 is bad – it’s just a slow burn. Every page is packed with dialog and information. There’s an argument to be made that there’s too much going on here, that Snyder is overreaching in his design of the story or, at the very least, he could have split this into two issue and book ended each one with some action. I see the point there, but I have faith in what Scott Snyder can do as a writer and I’ll lay dollars to donuts that the pay off will more than make up for the slower sections. 

The only point of order I have with issue involves the conversation between Alfred and Batman. During the discussion, Alfred mentions a member of the Wayne family who seemed to go insane with the idea that owls were hunting him. For the last three issues, Batman has been tracking the Court Of Owls. In issue #2, Bruce Wayne was attacked by a killer dressed as an owl. He’s also been investigating the history of the Wayne family and how it ties to what’s happening now. With all of that going on, it never occurred to Alfred to bring this up? He just suddenly remembered this pivotal piece of information that unlocks a major key to the whole story arc? For somebody as talented as Snyder, it’s just a little too easy.

Greg Capullo’s art is beautiful in this issue. I was especially impressed with how he handles the opening mob action. It’s so violent and so brutal but keeps the darker fine art edge that Capullo is known for. The fact that his line work is so thin but translates with such weight is a testament to how good the work is. Especially with Batman, who looks truly menacing here, a dark spirit of vengeance out to stop a killer. Batman #3 isn’t the most visceral issue and there are a few kinks in it, but having followed Snyder’s work for this long. I trust there’s a reason for everything.