Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Guillem March
Colorist: Tomeu Morey
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
After last issues debut, I was all in on this new version of Batman. The book has a different "feel" to it, now that Tom King is gone. While I really enjoyed last issue, after sitting on it I began to notice a couple issues I had with it. Deathstroke being taken down so easily was one of those. A friend pointed it out to me and when I read the issue a second time, I couldn't help but let it bother me. But luckily in this issue we get a hint as to why that was even possible. Don't get me wrong though, I really enjoy what Tynion is doing and I'm intrigued to see where he takes this story. With a lot of Batman's Rogues making appearances in this arc, it feels like this is going to be leading to some huge battle at the end, or maybe it will be more in line with "Hush" where all the pieces are being put together to take Batman down. Either way I'm in, so let's get into this weeks issue.
The book opens up with one of my favorite villains, The Riddler, but shown in a way we've never seen before. He looks emaciated, is hopped up on amphetamines and hasn't slept in 3 months. Guillem March does a fantastic job getting the point across of how far Nygma has fallen. You can see every bone protruding under his skin, you can see how insane he's becoming as he's trying to "solve" Gotham. He's been listening to everything happening in Gotham over these past 3 months, so he finds put about the 5 assassins getting captured and contacts Penguin. He eludes to the fact that this was always how Penguin said it would start.
Oswald, The Penguin, doesn't always come across as a fearful villain, but Tynion's dialogue coupled with March's design make him truly intimidating and frightening. He's cleaning house as he's getting ready for war. Whereas we thought that this plan being used against Batman was Catwoman's we know see that It's Oswald's. But I feel like it could also be a red herring, we'll see.
While the assassin are being booked by the newly minted Commissioner Bullock ( where this happened I have no clue), Catwoman is still on her side mission. She's uncovered that someone is trying to replace Bruce's plans for the city with their own. But even as she relays this to Bruce, he can detect that she sounds nervous. If this truly is a plan that was originally created by Selina, how will Bruce react to that. I love that she tells him to "keep his head in the game" and to focus on the task at hand, always putting him in his place. My only gripe is that, Selina feels like she's being written differently than the way King wrote her. I can't put my finger on it, but it just feels off a little bit.
The scene between Bullock and Batman on the rooftop was probably the best scene in the book. Bullock has always had a somewhat tenuous relationship with Batman and that hasn't changed with him becoming the new Comissioner. In only one page, Tynion perfectly encapsulates the relationship between these two. It's also where we learn of "The Black Block". Bruce Wayne helped fund a new, 9 person holding cell at the GCPD, specifically to hold the worst of the worst. The coolest part of this was that he designed it with some of the worst villains in mind, but also designed it to hold himself or other members of the Batfamily. There's only two entrances and only he knows the 2nd.
After questioning Deathstroke, we get the inkling that Slade wanted to get captured. Which makes his take down last issue a little more believable. Slade is written exactly how I imagine him in my head, calm and completely sure of himself, Tynion did a great job conveying all of that. But soon we learn that Cheshire was a body double and Batman sets off to find her. Cue the action packed scene of taking her down. The art in this scene is full of energy and I love the use of the panels by March, he has truly upped his game since he first broke onto the comics scene all those years ago. The angles he uses and the structure of the panels, throughout the book, take this book to another level. I wouldn't mind him on the book every issue.
As the story concludes, Batman subdues Cheshire, Deathsroke and the rest of the assassins make their escape and Penguin is ready for war. This issue was a fun read and continues to set things up that I want to learn more about. I would like to see a little more of Lucuis Fox though, I feel like he's just there to be there. But either way this was a solid second entry into this new run and I can't wait for more.