“Seven words spoken in the dark” – Becky Cloonan gives a strikingly different take on the dark knight

Marvel has had a long tradition of analyzing their classic characters from the perspective of civilians. It generally provides interesting insights into the characters as well as the universe as a whole. Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross’ exceptional Marvels series defines the trend, examining the Golden, Silver and Bronze ages of comics through the perspective of a Daily Bugle reporter.

Scott Snyder has demonstrated a love for all periods of Batman lore and Batman 12 shows his willingness to examine the dark knight from a very different angle. After 11 issues of battling owls, assassins,  Gotham itself and a man claiming to be his brother, Batman gets a break in an issue that takes readers back to the first issue of Snyder’s series.

More than anything, Batman 12 is going to be remembered for Becky Cloonan’s stellar artwork on the issue. Being the first woman to ever illustrate Batman is certainly a long anticipated event and she does an incredible job. Her trademark clean lines, expressive faces and attention to body language and character interactions are all on display and it may be one of the most visually unique books of the Batman books.

Snyder’s script doesn’t disappoint either. Bringing back high school electrician Harper Row, who saved Batman from the Maze of the Owls back in issue 7, we get to understand the world of a girl who sees Batman as a sign of hope in a dying city. After being invited to the gala event that started off the first issue, Harper leaves disillusioned, thinking that Bruce Wayne doesn’t understand how to save the Gotham that she knows. The rest of her nights are spent fighting gay bashers who attack her brother and researching her hero, the Batman.

I don’t know that this is an issue we would have gotten had the Court of the Owls arc been stretched for another issue but its certainly an interesting take on how Batman is viewed and its a reintroduction to a character that Snyder seems to have plans for. Overall, picking this one up is about picking up a piece of history and its one of the most visually compelling super hero books you’re going to buy this year.

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