Rating: *** 1/2*
A great issue by Judd Winick to close out his run on Batman. One of the problems I had with Judd’s first run on Batman was the inconsistency. He would write a very good issue of Batman and then a very bad one. In this short run, he started off with a great issue; followed by some mediocre ones and then this great issue.
We pick up where we left off with Dick Grayson as Batman returning to the Batcave after the alarms went off. He finds out that the intruder is none other than Two-Face himself and he’s now at his mercy. Two-Face has pumped Batman with some drugs and he’s hallucinating. He sees Two-Face in some weird Batman-like costume, but it turns out to be all in his head.
Rating: ** 1/2*
After a great first issue, this storyline continues to go downhill. When we last left Batman, Dick was cornered by Clayface and an unknown ex-army guy, who were hired by the Black Mask to help the Penguin. The army guy is given a name in this issue and it’s Lyle Blanco. Blanco is a serial killer whose spent time in Arkham Asylum. Our issue opens with Clayface and Blanco battling Batman. I didn’t like the way Judd Winick had been writing Dick as Batman. I felt that he portrayed Dick is kind of wimpy and unsure of himself, but I liked the way he portrayed Dick here in this fight with Blanco and Clayface. He was confident and sure of his abilities that he could take these guys down. This is the way Batman should be. Kicking butt.
We see also in this issue Two-Face recruiting a young girl who can perform magic whom he looks to recruit in his efforts to find out more about the new Batman. He shows her a batarang that he was able to get his hands on and asks her if she can use it to find out where it comes from. Sort of use it as a tracer to locate the new Batman’s hideout.
Rating: ** 1/2*
Judd Winick’s run on Batman continues. In the last issue, we saw that Two-Face has realized that the current Batman battling in the streets of Gotham is not the same Batman that he’s faced over the years. This Batman likes to smile, which is something the previous Batman was not fond of doing. In this issue, the battle to be the number one crime boss continues. Two-Face is feeding the new Batman intel on the Penguin’s operations; the issue opens with Batman taking out a secret Penguin casino.
The Penguin is obviously not happy as we see him complain to a mysterious figure. I think the person is the Black Mask, but I’m not 100% sure. The Penguin decides he needs help in taking on the Batman. To help him with this problem, the mysterious figure has some muscle for the Penguin in the shape of genetically-enhanced soldier.
Batman continues his patrol in Gotham when the soldier attacks Batman (with some help from Clayface). We end there.
I wanted to mention one other scene that I thought was very touching with Dick Grayson and Alfred. Alfred talks about how his role was to stand in Bruce’s shadow and be his aid in the fight against crime. He wasn’t sure he could do it without Bruce, but he feels Dick makes it easier since he is a person closer to the “light” than Bruce. Alfred talks to Dick about how before the darkness came for Bruce on that night, Bruce was a very good artist when he was a little, but all that changed after his parents’ deaths. We see a flashback to a young Bruce drawing. I would love to see DC follow-up on this little detail and make it a part of the Batman mythos. Sherlock Holmes used to play the violin for relaxation—maybe when Bruce returns he could draw for relaxation.
Rating: ** !/2*
This month’s issue of Batman is not as good as the previous issue. I can’t put my finger on why that is, but I was left kind of with a whatever attitude after I read this story, where I was pumped after I finished reading Batman and Robin last week. I think maybe the reason I felt this way was because of the way Judd Winick wrote the character of Dick Grayson. He seemed weak. I still don’t feel like he’s confident that he can do the job when he’s been fighting crime all his life. I know DC wants him to portray him as if he’s not worthy, but he is worthy - more than worthy. Which is why I was a bit upset by two scenes in this particular issue.
One scene is the opening scene where we see Dick dressed as Batman fighting an unknown assailant in the Bat-Cave three weeks from now. The assailant knows he’s not the real Batman and is telling him so as he kicks the crap out of him. Dick lays defeated at the foot of his mentor’s cowl encased in glass with the assailant ready for the kill. This scene screams you’re a loser and a pretender. The second scene is comical, but again it seems like what we have here in Dick is a pretender to the throne. Dick is talking to Alfred about the cape and cowl and how he can’t see and the cape is too heavy to move around. I know that DC wanted to change the dynamic of Batman and Robin and have Robin be the dark figure while Batman is more light hearted, but it doesn’t seem to work here in this issue, where it’s been portrayed well over in Batman and Robin.
We’ve seen in the previous issue as well as in the Battle for the Cowl mini-series that the Penguin and Two-Face are both trying to take over the Gotham City underworld. On a side note, I wonder what happened to the Black Mask. Wasn’t he supposed to be involved as well? Maybe he’ll show up later. Anyway, Dick Grayson as Batman stops one of the Penguin’s shipments and is caught on camera. Two-Face notices something is different about Batman. He finds it interesting that the Batman would even allow himself to get on camera in the first place. After watching the footage Two-Face says to his cohort that the man in the Batman costume is not Batman.
Rating: *** 1/2*
When DC announced the new direction they would be going with in the Batman books, I wasn’t happy. With this new direction would come a new monthly book called “Batman and Robin” which would be written by Grant Morrison. I wasn’t happy. Then came the news that Judd Winick would take over the “Batman” monthly title. Still not happy. I thought to myself, that I probably may end up not reading any of the Batman books that DC would be publishing for the foreseeable future or until Bruce Wayne returned as Batman. Well, if you read my review from last week, you know I was very surprised and absolutely enjoyed “Batman and Robin”. So what about Judd’s first issue of “Batman,” well, DC is two-for-two in my book as I absolutely loved this week’s issue of “Batman”.
The story is an epilogue to “Batman: Battle for the Cowl” and it shows some of the events that lead up to where Grant Morrison’s story begins in “Batman and Robin”. The issue shows various moments where members of the Batman family and the super hero community deal with the news of Bruce’s death. Some very moving scenes were done here, particularly the one in the cave with Alfred. I’m not a huge fan of Ed Benes’s art work, but he does a good job here with some moving visual images that set the tone of everyone’s feelings concerning Bruce.
As I said, there are some powerful moments in this book as we see Dick Grayson breakdown and cry over the death of Bruce Wayne, but the most moving scene come from Alfred. Superman and Wonder Woman return Bruce’s cape and cowl to give to Dick and Tim in the Batcave. As they discuss Bruce’s death, Alfred enters the cave with some refreshments for everyone. Superman asks him if he’s alright and Alfred’s response is, “Am I all right? No, sir. I am not. My son has just died.” I’m not sure if this sentiment was ever expressed by Alfred in any other comic, but for Alfred to say that about Bruce was dead on. Thank you, Mr. Winick. Bruce Wayne was orphaned, but he gained a father in Alfred from a very early age and Alfred has watched his “son” grow up to be a great man. I was happy to see that moment expressed here.
According to IGN.com there are some big changes in store for the Batman titles post-Battle for the Cowl. In June we will see some new series premiere and the traditional Bat-titles get new creative teams. Here is the list: “Detective Comics,” “Batman,” “Batman and Robin,” “Red Robin,” “Gotham City Sirens,” “Batman: Streets of Gotham,” and the “Outsiders.” I also saw on a message board over at CBR that Batgirl will be getting her own series again. The CBR message board also posts who are the creative teams behind each book.
The good news for me is that Grant Morrison is off “Batman”. The bad news is that he’s being replaced by Judd Winick. I’ve enjoyed stuff that Judd has written in the past. His work on “Exiles” and “The Outsiders” was good - particularly the “Exiles” that book rocked and hasn’t been good since he left. However, I was not all impressed with his previous work on Batman. Why DC didn’t just give the “Batman” title completely to Tony Daniel as he’s staying as artist I don’t know. Maybe it would be too much to handle? I love what Daniel is doing on “Battle for the Cowl”. “Detective Comics” will be written by Greg Rucka and will feature Batwoman - I’ll check out the first issue, but I’m not a big fan of Greg Rucka so I may end up dropping it. I also could care less about Batwoman.
Although Grant Morrison will be leaving the “Batman” title, he will be staying in the Bat-universe and will be launching a new monthly series entitled “Batman and Robin” along with his usual artist collaborator Frank Quitley. According to IGN, this title will be the “flagship” of the Batman titles. I’m not happy with that statement as I feel the original title of any group of comic books should be the flagship title. The flagship title for Batman should be and always be “Detective Comics”.
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