As yet another member of The Kingdom is marked for death by Massacre, Winick exposes a few more layers to Batwing’s past. The newest target is a man who was once known as Steelback. Batwing is able to intervene before he’s killed, but things get a lot more interesting as we’re headed to Gotham by the end of this issue!
Winick has done a great job making this steady build and introduction of new characters exciting and just plain fun. During the story we shift to past glimpses of David’s frustration with the corrupt police force that he works for. These events helped motivate him to operate outside of the law and take the fight directly to the criminals, which leads to a meeting with Batman himself. Winick also uses this to further establish the relationship between David and Matu, which I’m hoping we get more of later down the line. The Steelback character was a bit underwhelming, and he bore too many similarities (though superficial) to Iron Man or even Hardware. Though the interactions between Massacre and Batwing are where the meat lies, and Winick finally hints at the identity of the new villain. I don’t mind being wrong one bit when the story is this good and the cliff hanger is a set up for one bad ass showdown.
Oliver’s artwork continues to impress, though I’d prefer some more detailed backgrounds in the panels. He still delivers those dynamic panel layouts filled with great action sequences and storytelling elements. We also get a very cool page of two familiar faces at the end of the book which helped to sell the cliff hanger.
Batwing continues to be a “must have” title, though I’m anxious to see how well it will fare with less Batman appearances later on. Massacre has also been a nice addition to the list of villains, but hopefully he’ll have a motivation beyond just killing the members of The Kingdom when this is all wrapped up. This is definitely one of the best titles in the New 52, with strong, consistent writing, and great art that ties it all together.