Introducing Mr. Bloom in Batman #44 written by Scott Snyder and Brian Azzarello, art by Jock, color by Lee Lochridge, and letters by Derron Bennett.
A spectacular flashback and a grizzly old fashion mystery “blooms” for Bruce Wayne in this issues’ flashback murder mystery. Bruce is hunting down the killer of 15 year old Peter Duggio and he has to go through a tangled web of a few classic adversaries such the Penguin as well as very real modern problems.
Many have been raving about this issue and for good reason: it tackles gentrification, racial profiling and violent gun-related deaths of African Americans by the hands of (white) police. And we all know Batman’s view on guns. It is incredibly important this is touched on in comics, most likely has before and I sure this won’t be the last, but I can’t think of anyone better than Batman to touch on this topic. It’s especially important considering Bruce’s own alter-ego of Bruce Wayne and his role as a rich white businessman and developer and how his actions in that life, even in the name of philanthropy, effects people.
The intricate web of whodunnit lands the story at the feet of many, with the elusive Mr. Bloom (who is barely in the story at all) introduced as a new force to be reckoned with (possibly filling a niche left by Poison Ivy, who has become overall slightly more…anti-villain). Juxtaposed artwork of newspaper clippings reinforce the political and hot button nature of the content. The tone, noir-esque in the best classic Batman sense makes this one-off stunning and memorable.
Few negatives aside from the art which is stylized and effective but is not 100% my favorite look which is simply personal opinion and does not hurt this issue for it’s own artistry and merit. Being stylized and slightly minimalist it’s striking in its own way and a predominantly desaturated coloring by Lochridge makes it stand out among other mainstream issues this month. Not even a true negative here.
Aptly titled “A Simple Case” this is definitely a modern classic. With the push for trades there has been a slight drop in the art of single one off stories which seemed (at least from my recollection) to be more common in the 90s. While they can still be found in annuals, the most poignant and strongest stories are generally the original ones like these and we need them now more than ever.