What Batman #27 Offers
Batman #27 is a part of a large story: an episode of the current Batman story arc called “Zero Year”.
The comic book itself divides its pages between retelling the Batman’s origins, and introducing more perspectives on The Batman from characters such as Alfred, Commissioner Gordon, Barbara Gordon, and the Riddler.
These are valuable points of view. Particularly Alfred’s ideas.
Apart from a reflection on heroic symbols and their meaning, the comic entertains and continues a good story about The Batman. It’s a good comic for readers who are Batman fans or enjoy horror and crime, and superhero style stories.
The comic entertains. It has moments that are profound. Panels useful for older students appear. Teachers might draw on some of these for teaching vengeance and justice themes. Mostly, Batman #27 entertains though. This is not a flaw – the comic book entertains with a great story, cryptic riddles, and Batman references.
What Batman #27 offers:
- A great super hero comic
- Powerful and Detailed artwork
- References to Batman comics history – The Dark Knight Returns graphic novel
- Revenge and justice themes
The moment that Barbara Gordon – Batgirl – first saw the Dark Knight appears in this issue.
The Riddler threatens rather than jokes. Here he’s a mastermind. One step ahead of the The Batman, The Riddler executes his plans without wasting time. His character behaves like Ozymandias from Watchmen. There’s a sense of frustration – if only The Batman could find him, and stop this man in green and purple skyping insults and riddles.
Jim Gordon reflects on his early career in Gotham. Hounded by more experienced officers and mistreated. Ignored and shunned for being an honest cop in a room full of men up to the neck in bribes. He reflects on the ordeal the senior staff inflicted on him.
Inside is a sequence of panels where Gotham’s streets bathe in sepia light.Later, The Batman sits on a wire in the rain. Behind him there is lightning. He’s a shadow. It’s a thrill to see this reference to The Dark Knight Returns.
At one point, The Batman is on the run from the police. The colours are toxic, and painful to look at. It’s not until Jim Gordon arrives to pull the Batman from Gotham river’s black water that the colours lose their toxic shades. They change to sombre tones of purple and orange. The water changes grey. What’s reinforced by this chameleon-like shift from harsh to warm colour is that The Batman can trust Jim Gordon.
Themes, Ethics, Values
Then Alfred reflects on his own experience with the Batman. He raises a great discussion about the power of symbols, and about the value of justice, hope, and inspiration over scars, darkness, and revenge.
He tell Bruce Wayne that in his experience, symbols of punishment and rage don’t last. The Batman needs to more than just punishment. Instead, Alfred cautions Bruce that everyone can see what he is doing. Some of those watching want to help. He needs to recognise this, and to understand that a symbol – a heroic symbol – inspires the best in people and lasts. It does not fall apart at the seams. It does not wither away and decay.
I began this review stating the comic entertains the reader, and has only a few moments where themes of revenge and justice are discussed. After re-reading the comic book, a deeper meaning might be nested inside a story that entertains on the surface.
Reading a single issue, however, does not give enough detail in this case. Reading all of the “Zero year” issues, either as single comic books or collected into a graphic novel, will give a big-picture perspective. More meaning might emerge.
For example, there is the yellow moon references laced through Batman #27.
There are spoilers below, so read the list below with caution:
- The comic opens in Tokyo, 1946. A woman in front of a yellow moon sings a song about “Pale, pale moonlight”
- On the next page, Batman is caught in a spotlight the same colour and shape as the yellow moon on the previous page.
- Towards the end of the comic, Batman picks up a yellow, military helmet with “Tokyo Moon” printed on it.
If there is a pattern to these cryptic clues, I can’t see it yet. If anyone has a theory or idea, please leave a comment.