Scott Snyder has never been shy about his philosophical musings.  That is one of the most distinctive aspects of his writing, and one of the things that make his public discussions and panel appearances potentially interesting.  He has ideas he wants to explore and is willing to talk at length and with sophistication about those theories and metaphors and analogies.  In an era when many writers seem to regard the story of ideas as being hopelessly old hat, Snyder’s enthusiasm for philosophical discussion is refreshing.  Unfortunately, his enthusiasm is also often quite tiring.  He seems incapable of telling a story that isn’t the “biggest ever!”  Despite a professed desire to focus on shorter, more intimate narratives, he inevitably ends up spinning arcs that take up a dozen issues and months of real time.

That means we sometimes end up with issues like Batman #48, which consists almost in its entirety of two conversations.  The first is an extraordinarily odd exchange between the amnesiac Bruce Wayne and the amnesiac Joker on the shores of a lake.  It is filled with the former Joker lamenting the infestation of the lake by a rather disgusting form of parasite while he fondles a revolver.  It seems to be meant to suggest the infestation of Gotham by crime, and to set up a series of double entendres as Bruce, who has become aware of his life as Batman, misunderstands the Joker’s remarks.  Or does he?  Is the Clown Prince also more aware than he admits?  Regardless, the insinuations fall flat amid a tangle of strange images.

The second conversation is between Mister Bloom and Gotham as the villain, triumphant over Jim Gordon, sets out his own philosophy.  He is, in essence, a demonic libertarian.  In his view all systems are useless.  All governments will fail.  All people secretly loathe all others.  There is no help or love or comfort. There are no heroes.  There is only strength.  And the essence of Mister Bloom is to allow each person to realize strength.  And in strength, each may join the war of all against all.

Finally there is one page, disconnected from the rest, that appears to take place in a laboratory and speaks of “straneglets.”  I presume that is a misprint for “strangelets,” a kind of extremely dangerous subatomic particle.  A setup for a crisis to come?

Grade

B

Conclusion

The book ends with Bruce Wayne determined to once again stand forth as the hero and prove to the people of Gotham that such is possible. In a way, it is a flawed ending. Jim Gordon has always been the creature of the system, the avatar of the establishment. He is the hero that Bloom mirrors in darkness. In truth, it should fall to him to defeat the avatar of anarchy. But the gods of commerce dictate otherwise. And that is a darkness of another kind.