When it comes to Batman, and a lot of the major comic book characters, a lot has already been written and done. However, not everything has been done and there still are many great stories to tell and this is one of them. While fairly light on the action, this issue is an integral chapter in Snyder’s epic Batman story. The idea that something as sinister and as powerful as the supposed Court of Owls exists under Batman’s nose is a preposterous idea, at least it is for Bruce. And up until this issue, that just seemed like a hubristic idea on his part. There are few people who can get away with questioning Batman’s motives, but when Nightwing does, he reveals everything. It turns out that even as a child Bruce had an investigative mind and has been trying to uncover the Court of Owls for decades. Snyder’s story is excellently written here. He’s taken away Bruce’s ability to take control of the situation, to be the aggressor, and created an enemy whose existence relies on Batman’s failure as a detective. Capullo, Glapion, and FCO continue to do astounding work on the series. The flashback scenes were executed in a unique and interesting way. The use of the old Gotham map and Bruce’s notes as backgrounds brought a nice depth to the overall layout. The art has a remarkable ability of creating a grand, almost heroic, depiction of Gotham and the Batman, that works in perfect symbiosis with Snyder’s story. 4.5/5
Before I get into it, I’d like to start off by saying that this book is better than a whole mess of books that have come out the the DC reboot. What basically used to be Batman Incorporated #9 and #10, joined to create this excellent book. Split in two, Grant Morrison is able to tell two stories in strikingly contrasted ways, much like the way he wrote Batman and Robin vs. The Return of Bruce Wayne. The first story plays out in a fairly simple, straightforward manner. It chronicles Stephanie Brown (did I mention this takes place before Flashpoint?) on a covert mission, going undercover at a private school in England that is run by Leviathan. What Morrison does extremely well here is highlight how much of an asset Stephanie Brown can be. She’s intelligent, quick thinking, strong, and ultimately she gets the job done. The art for this chapter is provided for by Cameron Stewart and Nathan Fairbairn. Stewart does a remarkable job of keeping things classy and focused, considering the subject matter.
The second chapter is arguably more relevant, at least with regards to the future and the impending Batman: Leviathan event. Batman and his team of heroes are hot on the heels of Leviathan and they believe they are close to uncovering the mastermind behind it all. Turns out, they’re wrong and the true culprit is someone who is both unexpected and yet predictable at the same time. However, before the story reveals anything, we are led through Doctor Dedalus’ labyrinth. While Batman is the one that is in a drug induced stupor, Chris Burnham’s art reflects that in a fantastically gorgeous manner. 4.5/5
From the very first issue, this series has been a series of consequences in direct relation to Catwoman’s illegal hobbies. First she’s attacked, then her apartment is blown up, her friend is killed, one by one everything she’s cared about is being systematically attacked. Altogether, it’s felt as if this story is meant to sway her from her evil ways. Except, I was under the impression that she had already done that for the most part. She is Catwoman after all, so she’ll never really quit what she does, but in recent years she’s been more particular with who she goes after. At the end of the day, this is just another one of those characters who’s caught in the middle of pre and post New DC.
This issue was a particularly strong issue, in a couple of ways. It acts as a transition from one story to the next and it does so in a fluid manner. The segue from her friend’s death to her new adversary is seamless, while still being interesting. What this issue did best though, was highlight the goodness in Selina. Gotham has some of the very best villains in all of comics and what has made Selina fascinating, is that she lives her live straddling the line between good and evil. She’s not vengeful like Ivy, sadistic like Zsasz, or psychotic like the Joker, but that doesn’t mean she won’t rob you blind and for me, that’s what makes her awesome. 4/5
I found this issue to be entertaining enough, but it wasn’t perfect and it wasn’t even the best issue of the week. Aquaman’s entrance and subsequent scenes were well done, the actions scenes were well played, the cameos were nice, and Darkseid had a nice big entrance. That being said, here are my problems with this book. Number one, and most important, where’s Batman? These last two issues have been lacking the world’s greatest detective and that’s not cool at all. The thing about the Justice League is that they’re all super powered, super enhanced, super everything, except for Batman. In the old DC it made sense for Batman to be there, because of his history as being capable, being smart, prepared, being everything the others weren’t. But here in this world, the rest of the team didn’t even know he existed, he was just a shadow of a myth, which makes his presence here awkward. And then throw in the fact that Geoff Johns is neglecting him and that makes things even worse. Speaking of things Johns is doing, the constant switching back and forth from the heroes to Cyborg is annoying, choppy, and not transitionally smooth at all. The same could be said for Jim Lee’s decision to have a sideways spread. If last week’s issue of Batwoman taught us anything, it was that spreads, when done appropriately, can create a masterfully fluid book. When done wrong, aka what Jim Lee did, it’s just annoying. Lastly, I was under the impression that the parademons were much like Cyborg, part cyberkinetics, part organic, which makes it all the more confusing that the likes of Superman and Aquaman are slaughtering them left and right. 3.5/5
For those of you just reading Nightwing, it is possible that this is your first interaction with the new Batgirl. I’ve been reading Batgirl, and for the most part Higgins captures the soul of the character as she is now. Unfortunately, I don’t like her. Spanning across all of the Bat-books, Bruce, Dick, Damian, and even Tim have remained almost exactly the same. But Barbara has devolved, with respect to her age but more importantly emotionally. She doesn’t feel like Dick’s contemporary anymore and that really bums me out. They don’t feel like equals, not even close really, and that overpowered the story for me. Not to say it wasn’t a good issue, which it was and it’s not anything Higgins did, because he portrayed her she is portrayed everywhere, it just didn’t feel right.
The issue itself too a break from the impending doom brought upon by Saiko and instead gave us a look at a day in the life of Dick, when not dealing with highly intelligent assassins. Naturally that involves quite a bit of ass kicking, a little bit of romance, and some heartbreak thrown in for good measure. Trevor McCarthy, from the Gates of Gotham mini, did an excellent job filling in for Barrows. 4/5
When this series began I found this trio to be a strange team, but because I am a big fan of Roy and Jason’s I didn’t particularly care. A couple issues in and I can see that they have great chemistry, all three of them. Lobdell is writing a fast paced, action packed adventure that perfectly suits the characters he’s working with. Jason is about as awesome as he’s ever been, and that’s saying something because I had previously said no one can write him like Judd Winnick can. Starfire’s sheer power and makes her the perfect addition to this trio. And Roy’s sharp tongue and witty humor does a great job of balancing out the heavy undertones of the other two characters. This issue continues developing the Untitled’s story, as the trio find their way to Colorado, but it also introduces an antagonist who’s heart is set on painfully killing Starfire. Crux is a villain born out of destruction and loss, much like many before him, and he’s decided that Starfire and her people are to blame for his misery. While he’s giving her the beatdown, Jason and Roy are having a hell of a time as well taking on The Untitled, who appears to be untouchable. So far this series has been fairly Jason-centric but it looks like Starfire and Roy will be getting some much deserved face-time soon, and I can’t wait.
DC has some amazing artists, some of, or rather most of, the best in the business. Kenneth Rocafort is without a doubt one of those artists. He does a tremendous job with his linework, incorporating geometric shapes and bold lines into organic shapes. His meticulous detail is outstanding; he brings a fresh, vibrance to this book that really enhances the modern, youthful vibe that Lobdell is developing. The colors by Blond do a fantastic job of taking that vibrance once step further. His lush colors and soft tones make for a gorgeous book. 4/5
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