This is a perfect example why the DC switch to 2.99 isn’t as great as some people think. The Francesco Francavilla backup was completely dropped without warning. Did anyone mind paying an extra dollar for that, especially since its quality rivaled the main feature? What we get instead is an awful looking preview of something I could’ve easily read online. At least DC was nice enough to leave Snyder his full 22 pages this time, but we can soon kiss two pages goodbye, not to mention the pay cut Snyder, Jock, and all the other hardworking people have to take. Speaking of those hardworking people, to hell with that fictional character on the cover, where are the creator credits? A pay cut and no credits? DC is drawing a line, alright, and their foot is planted firmly in the corner of putting characters ahead of creators.
Rant aside, Snyder wraps up this opening arc quite nicely. As promised, Dick Grayson stares a darker side of Gotham in the face, with a few fun twists along the way. Snyder’s turning the legacy of Bruce Wayne against Dick, which means he gets to play with all the fun bits of villainy, including Scarecrow’s gas. This makes for the scariest scene Snyder’s ever written, and this is coming from the guy who writes American Vampire. Unfortunately, Jock doesn’t quite handle that scary sequence as well as it should’ve been, so let’s talk more about Jock.
I’ve always seen Jock as one of the best cover artists around, but his actual interior work reminds me of a less polished version of Sean Phillips. However, I recently reread the first Batman: Black and White series, and now Jock’s work looks more like post-Kent Williams. They both have a terrific eye for laying out a page, but Jock makes a few more missteps. There’s a page in this issue where Dick’s head is floating in the white abyss between panels, and it looks quite garish. Williams also established himself more as an auteur, often writing, coloring, and lettering his own work, while Jock still lies in the more conventional milieu. He’s still above many of his peers, but Jock hasn’t quite earned the status he’s often given. Colorist David Baron, conversely, is starting to earn his. His colors in this issue look outstanding. He’s almost taking a page from missing collaborator, Francavilla, in his use of mono color. Baron’s mostly using red, green, and yellow here, and they all establish the tone correctly, and look sublime.
All in all, this is a satisfying conclusion to Snyder’s opening salvo. It manages to rise above any hindrance DC might be responsible for. I’m looking forward to Francavilla’s solo issue coming up, as well as more of Snyder’s run in general.