Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Tom King
Artwork: Mikel Janin, June Chung (colours)
Release Date: 2nd August 2017
The Riddler and The Joker continue their bloody feud, with Gotham City caught in the middle. Meanwhile, Jim Gordon attempts a desperate plan to broker some kind of peace and Batman takes on two of the deadliest assassins in the DCU.
This issue feels a little slower than the previous two as the emphasis on a film noir style of storytelling continues. Tom King does a good job of spinning such a dark narrative throughout the cast of characters inhabiting the DCU. The situation feels bleak, almost hopeless at times, with even Batman himself struggles to keep up with the warring factions and the GCPD helpless to do anything but clean up after each massacre. For the first time in long time we can see Batman gradually becoming physically worn out and it leaves a real feeling of uncertainty in the air.
Mikel Janin is on pencils this week and does an incredible job of bringing King’s Gotham to life. The characters are immaculately detailed with every panel becoming its own masterpiece, and the exchanges between Bruce and Gordon being worthy of particular note. There are some visually striking set pieces this issue too, but the one likely to stand out to most is the Deathstroke and Deadshot stand-off. The battle begins with a glance, a single shot and then all-out chaos as two very well-matched fighters go toe to toe in the middle of the city. The combat is relentless until it is brought to its final, brutal conclusion.
June Chung brings the whole thing to life with a super clean and visually eye-popping assortment of colours. The visuals have a slight watercoloured appearance, giving this arc a very distinctive look, I’m not sure how the fire effect was created but it looks almost photo realistic!
The current story has been very different to what we are used to seeing from this series; it feels more like a detective comic than the series using that name. When the action comes it comes thick and fast, bringing with it a visceral and almost painful series of panels with it. That said, the bulk of the series up to this point is focused heavily on the narrative – on one man telling the story from his perspective and interjecting his emotional state as he does.
I would caution new readers at this point – the book is perfectly readable, but without context the events won’t have nearly as much impact. Of course, picking up the last two issues will certainly help with that, an approach I’d highly recommend. For the rest of us, the tale does feel like it is slowly coming to an end, but save for the spectacular combat sequences mid-way through the issue, the story really doesn’t move forward too much here. It certainly feels like we are setting the scene before the big finale and I absolutely can’t wait to see how this one pans out.
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The writer of this piece was: Dave MacPhail
Dave Tweets from @ShinKagato