Rating: 3.5/5 – A Solid Tale, but Not Necessary Reading.
By ComicSpectrum senior reviewer Shawn Hoklas.
Annuals aren’t the important stories that they once were. In days long gone, the Annual was once an event in itself, then for a period of time it was part of a big crossover event that wove through various annuals for the year, and nowadays has become a stand alone tale that’s usually written and drawn by artists and writers not working on the main book. That’s the case with Batman Annual number four. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo are replaced by long-time Snyder collaborator James Tynion IV, and artist Roge Antonio. Although this issue isn’t so important to the overall Batman story, it does tie up one important storyline that didn’t last very long, Wayne Manor being used as the home for Arkham Asylum.
I read a majority of the Batman titles, but I was a bit confused at the start of this issue on just who purchased Wayne Manor after it was changed into the Asylum about a year ago. After that initial confusion the story becomes much more straight forward as we see how the inmates are moved out of the home, in particular Mr. Freeze, Clayface and the Riddler. I’m always in whenever there’s a story starring Clayface, but to see the three villains team up was definitely an added bonus even if the fight isn’t against Batman. Bruce Wayne still doesn’t have his memories back so we see him fighting these villains out of costume which does temper the excitement.
In terms of the art, Roge Antonio does a solid job. The villains all look great and there’s definitely a cool scene involving Clayface’s powers. It’s also nice to see the Riddler being portrayed as he was in Snyder’s Zero Year storyline, rather than the way he was in Simone’s recent Secret Six series. He’s the intelligent and cunning villain he should be here. My only complaint with the art is that Antonio does forget that Alfred is missing a hand in a certain panel, but that’s something the editor should have caught.
Overall, the experiment of having Wayne Manor act as the home for the criminally insane didn’t last long and had little impact outside of the limited Arkham Manor series. Other books in the Bat-Family of titles never took advantage of the situation for new and different stories which is a shame. To see an annual dedicated to wrapping this story-line up also feels like a bit of an overkill, but it did need wrapping up. This may not be worth your $4.99, but its a solid read if you can find it for cheap at a later date.
Reviewed by: Bob Bretall
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