Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
In the second annual of the Batman comic book title, new writer Marguerite Bennett delivers a solid issue that will leave readers with many emotions regarding the Anchoress. After reading and reflecting on this issue, the Anchoress is simply creepy and a character filled with rage. Bennett characterized the Anchoress perfectly and the art by Wes Craig is a nice complement throughout the issue and specifically regarding his illustrations of the Anchoress.
One of the significant supporting characters in the annual is an orderly named Eric Border who is beginning his employment at Arkham Asylum and he is introduced to Batman himself. After the interesting misdirection of having Batman appear he is being locked in Arkham it is revealed that Batman is present to test the security at the asylum.
Eric, who maintains a positive perspective throughout the issue, which is a fresh take given how people in Gotham are characterized as being more cynical than being hopeful. Even though Eric is from Metropolis, which is a different environment from Gotham, the character is written well and his attitude stands out because it is different than the somber tone that usually surrounds Gotham City.
Eric does not understand the mystery behind why the Anchoress has been forgotten about at Arkham but she lets him known when the characters meet. The Anchoress imprisoned herself at Arkham many years ago after feeling guilt over the death of her parents and believed Arkham was a sanctuary that would help her. It is revealed that the Anchoress blames Batman for what has happened to Arkham and she holds him accountable for the evil villains that have been placed in Arkham throughout the years and that are present throughout Gotham.
In an emotional sequence, the Anchoress confronts Batman after she is able to escape from her cell. She is able to enter his mind and see the tragedies that have and continue to haunt Batman. From the death of his parents to the physical encounter Batman had with the individual who revealed himself to be Bruce Wayne’s brother during the Court of Owls story arc along with the death of Bruce’s son, Damian, the Anchoress reminds Batman he could not save any of those individuals. The Anchoress is having her revenge on Batman in the process for what she believes the Dark Knight should be held accountable for which is what Gotham and Arkham has become due to his presence. After Eric returns the Anchoress to her cell, he maintains his positive outlook during a conversation with Mahreen, his employer. He reminds her that Arkham can become a sanctuary again.
Marguerite Bennett delivers an excellent issue in her first comic book as a writer. The small tie-in to Zero Year is interesting and it is a very good issue that stands on its own, which is what makes an annual comic book issue exceptional.
Batman Annual #2 by Marguerite Bennett, Scott Snyder and Wes Craig is available now.
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