Writer: Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV (backup)
Pencillers: Greg Capullo, Rafael Albuquerque (backup)
Inker: Danny Miki
Colorists: FCO Plascencia, Dave McCaig (backup)
Though Batman #22 may lack the big action set pieces and reveals of last month’s issues, it has a good deal of visual experimentation from Greg Capullo, Danny Miki, and FCO Plascencia as well developing the characters of Bruce Wayne, his supporting cast, and rogues gallery. Capullo’s art also reinforces Scott Snyder’s themes and dialogue. There are callbacks to last issue, and the backup story perfectly ties into the main story even though Rafael Albuquerque’s art style is much different than Capullo’s.
Greg Capullo’s art style always complements and adds layer to Scott Snyder’s writing and dialogue. He adds subtle background details to develop
Danny Miki’s inks and especially FCO Plascencia’s colors enhance Capullo’s pencil art. Miki adds a rough edge to an inexperienced Bruce and his bleak surroundings. He draws attention to the poor choreography of Bruce’s fighting moves in the opening scenes of the book and helps the big Riddler spread be readable and not just a visual gimmick. FCO Plascencia’s colors set the mood for every scene from dark arguments to false hope. His work especially shines in the play of light of darkness when young Bruce falls and sees bats for the first time in a flashback scene.
As well as having great art, Scott Snyder continues to give readers insights into Bruce Wayne’s character and motivations through a script that revels in Bruce’s youthful follies as a crime fighter, but also hints at his potential to be a hero. Bruce’s crime fighting methods are narrow and motivated by anger. Even when Alfred tells him about his problems, Bruce rejects his guidance instead seeking Phil Kane’s help. (Uncle Phil might not be the best source of advice.) However, this issue shows the beginning of the “World’s Greatest Detective” as Bruce reveals his mental acuity and ability to deduce solutions to problems. These abilities are the focus of another wonderful backup story which features a 21 year old Bruce stranded in an unknown location with only his homemade gadgets to get him out.
The majority of great Batman stories have great villains, and The Riddler and Red Hood provide challenges to both Bruce’s mind and body. Their intelligence for Bruce to begin to use his mind instead of his fists to solve problems and fight crime. However, Bruce is still a far away off from the Caped Crusader that fans know and love. This issue is an important step in his journey to become the protector of Gotham City as he realizes that some threats can’t be defeated by vigilantism alone. Some of the best moments of this issue are when Bruce ponders his relationship to Gotham and its people, which has been a major theme in Snyder and Capullo’s run on Batman.
Even though it is a part of an origin story, Batman #22 does an excellent job furthering Bruce Wayne’s character arc and delving into his motivations and methods of fighting crime. It may not be an action thriller, but some conversations do double duty of furthering the plot and character. Capullo, Miki, and Plascencia continue to add layers to Scott Snyder’s script and show why Batman is consistently one of DC’s best books. The backup story echoes the themes and images of the main story and shed even more light on the future Batman’s growth as a character and hero.