Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Jorge Jimenez
Colours: Tomeu Morey
Lettering: Clayton Cowles
Release Date: 4th March 2020
So, it’s been a while since I’ve been excited by one of the ongoing titles from the ‘Big Two’, but a few months ago I was put onto Batman again through the involvement of a certain diminutive criminal mastermind. With a soft spot for Oswald Cobblepot, not to mention villainous team-ups in general, this arc was an easy sell. The strength of writing and art, though, has been what’s kept me coming back for more.
For anyone who hasn’t been keeping up to speed, the Bat Family has suffered a significant loss, Wayne Enterprises is putting a grand plan in place to reshape Gotham, and someone is manipulating both the Caped Crusader and his usual gallery of rogues to enact a nefarious plan that will stretch and vex even the world’s greatest detective.
Condensed and summarised like this, you could be fooled into thinking this was pretty much any other Batman story. Some shadowy figure yadda yadda, convoluted set-up, exposition, and then triumph for good; well, one at least presumes… What differentiates here though is the clever story decisions and hearty dialogue. Batman facing off against Deathstroke? We know who will ultimately best who, so it was startling refreshing that this was essentially closed out in a couple of panels. A bold move which might have ticked off some hardened Slade fans, but which also shows the team have confidence in the tale being told; and what an engaging tale it is!
However, talking of this issue specifically, we have a roof top conversation between Selina and Bruce with Catwoman, through the medium of flashback, giving the lowdown on who or what is currently bringing down the city around them. The cover tries to shock with a secret that “will tear them apart!” but, and this is no spoiler, it was pretty obvious and not really something, given her background, that one shouldn’t have considered. Although star turns from Penguin and Riddler are here, it’s the Joker that manages to steal the show again.
There’s not a huge amount I can say about the art and visuals that aren’t immediately apparent. As one of DCs flagship titles you wouldn’t expect anything less, but the team deliver stellar work consistently panel after panel. As an action comic, we see Gotham dark and gritty but still conveniently well-lit enough to show off our goodies and baddies in flattering light. That’s not a knock, as each panel oozes distinctive character and flavour.
Whilst this clearly isn’t best issue to jump in on, if you can source a few issues back from your friendly bricks and mortar comic store (or you know, digitally if you are technologically minded), then you’ll be in for a treat.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]
The writer of this piece was: Adam Brown
Adam Tweets from @brother_rooster