BatWatch Review: Batwing #23



Batwing needs a hit in a bad way. The series, unless I somehow missed something, is the worst selling DC Comics series to be spared from the chopping block. It's hard for me to imagine DC's desire to be racially diverse will keep Batwing afloat for long, so it seems the only hope is for the writing to be so great that new readers will somehow find and embrace this series, yet that is so much easier said that done. Palimotti (former inker for Jonah Hex and writer for Power Girl and current writer for Batwing, All-Star Western, and What If? AVX) and Gray (former writer for Jonah Hex and Power Girl and current writer for Batwing and All-Star Western) have done a good job delivering satisfying stories, but without new readers ready to give this series a chance, it's all for naught.  

Focusing on the comic itself, we've got a lot on the table. Batwing and Batman are working together in an attempt to rescue Luke's father, and forces are continuing to mount against our newbie hero. The assassin Lady Vic is set to make an appearance as well, and I suspect she will be more than happy to insert her Katar into Luke's heart and send him to an early retirement. We are still getting to know Luke and his world; let's hope Batwing lives long enough for us to see where this all leads.

Is Batwing's triumphant first adventure also his tragic end or does Batwing still have a little fuel in his thrusters? 

Feel Good Action

I just realized as I finished this issue that it has more or less filled a whole in my reading that was left gaping when James Tynion IV (current writer of Talon, Red Hood and the Outlaws and Batman) took over Red Hood and the Outlaws and turned it into Mind Wiped and the Drama Queens. RHATO used to be good, plain fun, and that pretty well encapsulates this book with Luke Fox as the main character.  

Luke Fox finishes his current round of fighting the Marabunta in this issue, but without much downtime, he's embroiled in a new conflict. There is a little bit of romantic and family drama thrown into the mix, and at some point, Batwing will need to take on some more serious aspects to his characterization, but for the moment, I'm pretty well satisfied at seeing Luke's personal life develop slowly as we see one cool battle transition into the next.  

Oddly enough, the standout moments of this issue happen not with Batwing but with Lady Vic. (Spoilers for Rest of Section) Lady Vic is an assassin for hire with no apparent superpowers, yet she gives Batwing a memorable takedown and manages to hold her own against other threats as well. Normally in superhero comics, we find ourselves rooting for the underdog, but here, Lady Vic is the underdog facing the impossible obstacle of Batwing's tech. Despite the fact that Luke is our hero, I still find it very amusing to watch Lady Vic take Luke apart piece by piece.


Though this series is definitely pushing the action, there is still development happening with Luke in this issue. He clearly has not come to terms with the sacrifices he has to make if he is going to keep his super heroing a secret, so that is one lesson he will have to learn. He seems to be handling the breakup with Zena mostly maturely. Keeping with the action in the forefront approach, it seems his greatest lesson this issue was learning that he relied too much on tech. It will be interesting to see how Palmiotti and Gray address this since Batwing is essentially Bat-Iron Man. Could it be we will see Batwing actually back off the tech? Time will tell.

Bat Droppings


1. Stealth mode on Luke's suit looks awesome. Most of the time when people turn partially invisible in comics, artists render it by making them simply absent from the panel or by just drawing a vague outline of the character. Here, the artist, Eduardo Pansica,  (former penciler for Wonder Woman and current penciler for Batwing) actually drew the scene without Luke and then drew Luke and layered him partially into the picture. It makes for an awesome effect as you feel as if you are truly seeing someone using a cloaking device.

2. I would have enjoyed learning a bit more about Mr. Conehead.  


3. When Batwing returns to the fight against the giant Marabunta mech, Batman is shown kicking the robot to death...which is pretty silly. I guess you could say he planted something on it which disabled it and then kicked it over, but it's should have been shown.  

4. Luke's experience with his family seemed very reminiscent of Peter Parker or classic Clark Kent antics. I don't want to see a lot of this, but a little bit is fun.

5. As I already said, I think Lady Vic makes a powerful first impression in this issue though regarding her assassination I do think it would be difficult to fade away into the crowd as a white woman dressed like a movie star in India. Couldn't she get a spray on tan going?



6. I'm going to shove in all my remaining observation to one point for the sake of time. Xena's still sucks as a girlfriend but is good as a foil, Wayne tower has been blown up all too often, Lady Vic's costume in Gotham is ridiculous and Lady Vic draws her sawed off double barreled shotgun with the wrong hand.  

Conclusion 8/10

It's a fun issue with lots of bang for your buck. Luke's personal development is being eked out slowly, but as long as it keeps coming and the pages are filled with nice action scenes, I'm on board.  

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BatWatch Review: Batwing #22

Disclaimer: My computer has made it nearly impossible to do anything, but since I really hate not to fulfil my promises, I'm going to post this review. However, I will not be able to format it correctly. post images or even spell check because it's late. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Batwing has been a pretty fun ride thus far though I would not say I'm competely sold on it. Luke Fox certainly seems like a fun character and thus far the series has really been solid on the action front. Last month, we were even introduced to a host of supporting characters who hold differing degees of promise. Still, two issues do not necessarily mean an excellent series is bound to follow. We can hope for the best, but the proof is in the pudding, and personally, I'm still doing some taste testing.

Batwing is off the ground, but will it be flying high or making an enscheduled landing?

In this issue, we see a flashback of Wayne's dealing with a mysterious new power player and Batwing attempts to rescue his father.

Standout Moments

The Marbunta have really grown on me as villains. At first upon seeing them, I figured it was just another random mercenary group with fancy armor, and though this description is not exactly inaccurate, they seem to be interesting cannon fodder. For instance it is revealed in this issue that the indvidual soldiers are actually partially brain controlled by the Queens. They are individually stupid, but they are able to coordinate on the marco level rather well since they have a hive mind giving direction. Amusingly, this would imply to me that their antennas are being used as actual antennas to receive commands from their leaders. Also, it's hard not to find at least some respect for their constantly evolving class system where they are always coming up with a newer, better model. It makes things feel a bit like a video game, and I admit that constantly having a bigger, better model up your sleeve could become a bit of a narrative crutch for writers, but hopefully Palmiotti and Gray will avoid that temptation. Finally, we get a look at some different kinds of Marabunta operatives in this issue, and I'm very eager to learn more about them.

The art also deserves some props. I'll fault Eduardo Pansica a smidge for making Bruce appear too young, but beyond that, the art is dynamic and engaging. Pansica's portrayal of the Marabunta was especially cool because it really did convey the swarm type behavior of ants as anybody who has ever fed caterpillars to ants can attest. (I was bored, okay?)

Batwing and Batman also have good chemistry. You can definitely make the case that Batman should not have been in the issue as much as he is because he is such an iconic hero that he tends to steal the show, but ignoring that, Batman acts just the way he should being a useful if overly harsh tutor to Luke. Luke for his part continues to be perhaps the most emotionally expressive of the Bat Clan letting every emotion run through him full bore. The contrast between these two works well. I especially liked it when Luke yelled in outrage, "You hung up on me."

The Problems

Overall, I did not like this issue quite as much as the past two.

One of the major flaws is pacing. The first issue was extremely fast, and they thankfully slowed it down a bit in the second and found a good pace. This issue feels even slower than the last. Sure, plenty is happening, but most of it did not feel that importnat.

For example, those who read the preview or have much logistical sense knew that the Marabunta would overwhelm Luke. A newbie crimefighter relying largely on tech is not going to fare well against two dozen soldiers with state of the art body armor. Nonetheless, we get a six page battle between these. These pages did serve to show that Luke is pretty awesome apart from his armor, but beyond that, this was just an extended fight scene that added little to the story. It gets a little worse that the soldiers have firearms yet did not break them out until halfway through the battle. Are these killers really that concerned of hurting Luke? I don't think so.

Just after this fight, we get a flashback conversation between Bruce Wayne and some presumed new villain, and this story, though no doubt relevant down the road, served no purpose in this issue and really should have been left on the editing room floor. Beyond that, the issue flowed acceptably though I would argue again that the takedown of the ship was overly drawn out. Again, we see nothing relevant to the plot in this scene, and these are just fights with minions, so it's hardly edge of your seat.

Conclusion 8/10

This certainly is not a bad issue, but it was a small step in the wrong direction. Personally, I think the pace they set in issue two of Luke's adventures struck the right balance, and I hope they will return to that. Also, it feels like some of the pages are just unncecessary or out of place. However, the extra unneeded scenes are of fun battles, and when my biggest complaint about an issue is that it is giving me too much action, you know it can't be all bad. Long story short, this issue is still a lot of fun, but it shows room for improvement.

BatWatch Review: Batwing #21

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Fangs of Doom

Once more, if this review sucks then I blame my illness. I can't wear my contacts because of my pink eye, so I'm pretty much too blind to read the comic or see what I'm writing in my review, so again, if this sucks, you now know why.

Now, how awesome is Batwing?  The last issue was a solid start for the series, and the preview for this issue look equally enticing. The new Batwing vs. Lion-Mane seems like a good, solid fight. Hopefully, Batwing will kick his butt, but what will happen after the fisticuffs? Presumably, Luke will return to Gotham and that is when we will really start to get a feel for where this series is going. Does Luke have a supporting cast outside of Batman and his family? Any friends? We still do not know Luke too well. It's time to learn more about him.

Does this issue continue to build Batwing into the next great member of the Bat Family or is this series still on its way to being canceled? 

In this issue, Batwing takes down Lion-Mane before tackling trouble on the home front.

The Battle

The battle between Batwing and Lion-Mane was pretty cool. I got the impression that Luke was kind of scrambling to keep up. Unlike Bruce who always knows exactly how to take out any foe, Luke seems to have trouble nailing down the best way to take out the villain. His approach seems more like he is pulling out everything but the kitchen sink. I also get the impression that Luke tends to fight by instinct rather than through tactical analysis which will be fine once he has some more experience, but it seems to leave him floundering in this battle.

As far as for entertainment value, the battle was great. It felt visceral and brutal especially when Luke used his gauntlets to slice and dice Lion-Mane.

The Love Interest

Luke's supporting cast does indeed grow in this issue with the inclusion of Zena, Luke's ex-girlfriend. I have not made up my mind on her. She does seem like an interesting character, but she shows up and brags about how she's not a girl who plays games with guys even though she clearly wants to see Luke twist in the wind. That sort of manipulation always annoys me. At the same time, it's a bit difficult to fault her for sticking the blade in Luke and twisting since his lack of attentiveness was pretty abysmal. I'm up to seeing how this relationship develops.

(Spoilers until Conclusion)

The Breakout

The Marabunta proved their skill and usefulness by taking out the flight carrying Lion-Mane. However, this scene annoyed me for a few reasons. I'm really sick of seeing soldiers used as cannon fodder in these situations. If you are guarding a major level metahuman, you should be equipped with gear capable of taking out major level metahumans, yet no matter how prepared soldiers should be, they seem to always get slaughtered in these situations.

Screenshot from 2013-06-05 13:55:53.png

I did enjoy seeing Lion-Mane rip off the Marabunta's arm, but I was annoyed when Lion-Mane immediately succeeded in tearing himself loose from his other bonds. The Marabunta just released his head; he shouldn't have been able to rip his limbs free, or if he could, he should have done that earlier. As Lion-Mane rips through the guards and jumps out of the plane, (apparently he can survive an impact at terminal velocity) he mentions Caligula. Could this be Charlie Caligula, the Batman villain introduced in Batman R.I.P.? Also, who is flying the plane once all the soldiers and Marabunta are killed?

We Are Family...

We see more of Luke interacting with his family which brings mostly good things. The Fox family does feel like a real family to me, so that counts for a lot. Tam Fox acts differently than she did in Red Robin, but this is a different circumstance and potentially a completely new version of the character. Lucius Fox and Luke Fox continue to have good chemistry though Mrs. Fox is oddly undeveloped as a character which makes me wonder if she will fill the slot of being the obligatory dead parent. Since Luke is supposed to be  a more optimistic character, hopefully he will be relatively free from tragedy.

Screenshot from 2013-06-05 13:57:58.png

The dinner scene was full of family tension and was great until it was interrupted by the psychoanalyzing seven year old sister (sister?) of Luke who immediately mentioned that she just happens to have a 190 IQ and read psychological philosophers for fun. This felt extremely awkward, but it's been my experience that this is how Palmiotti (former inker for Jonah Hex and writer for Power Girl and current writer for Batwing, All-Star Western, and Ame-Comi Girls) and Gray (former writer for Jonah Hex and Power Girl and current writer for Batwing, Ame-Comi Girls and All-Star Western) write. If they have something crazy they want to add into the mix, they just shove it out there with little build up or transition. It's not my preferred style, but I've seen it in their past work, so we probably cannot expect it to go away anytime soon.

The final image of the issue is slightly chilling with the Marabunta climbing all over Tam's apartment. It does raise the question, “How do they know Luke's identity?”

Conclusion 9/10

Little genius girl and Lion-Mane's inexplicable escape really pulled me out of the story, but the overall vibe of this tale was very positive. For every complaint, I can find a half dozen good points worthy of praise, and this character and team are still in their early issues, so I'm willing to cut them a little slack. Still, I hope Palmiotti and Gray will be a little more careful handling these type moments in future issues.

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BatWatch Review: Batwing #20

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Batwing V. 2.0

Batwing is dead! Long live Batwing! At least that seems to be the attitude encouraged by DC regarding this series. Sure, David Zavimbe was not exactly killed off, but he was certainly put to rest while he was still in his prime, and I'm not completely sure if I'm willing to accept a brand new Batwing.

At the same time, Luke Fox does seem like an intriguing character. As far as we know, he has grown up without any real tragedy. He is not a character motivated by a lust for vengeance but rather he is motivated by a lust for adventure and a desire to help his fellow man, or at least this is the impression I've garnered from interviews of the new creative team, Jimmy Palmiotti (former inker for Jonah Hex and writer for Power Girl and current writer for Batwing, The Human Bomb, All-Star Western, and Ame-Comi Girls) and Justin Gray. (former writer for Jonah Hex and Power Girl and current writer for Batwing, Ame-Comi Girls, The Human Bomb and All-Star Western) It would definitely be refreshing to see a member of the Bat Clan who could lighten up the stodgy and dark atmosphere.

I could probably spend another hour speculating on the potential of this new Batwing, but it's time for speculation to end and for reality to take its rightful place. Does Luke Fox do justice to and even surpass the legacy of David Zavimbe or is this new and improved Batwing a feeble replacement for our retired African warrior?

In this issue, Batwing goes after the Marabunta militia and we learn more about our new hero.

Straight for the Jugular

After last issue, I opened these pages expecting to see Batman approaching and recruiting Luke Fox and Luke slowly getting involved with his first major scuffle. Well, screw that! Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray do not bother with a slow build and instead make this issue an action packed thrill ride by starting six months into Batwing's career.

The issue starts with a bang and continues firing throughout. Our first glimpse of Batwing this issue features him already in a scrap with several dozen armored warriors and one armored behemoth. After several pages, the action does slow down a bit to develop Luke as a character and explain, via well timed flashbacks, who Luke is and how he got to this point in his life though many elements of Luke's past are still shadowed, and this is an aspect of the story which will no doubt continue to be unveiled for many issues to come. Even during the more plot based moments in this issue, action is never more than a page away. The entire back half of the issue is an extended fight scene, yet we learn much about Luke's thinking and fighting style throughout, so it is not a brainless slug fest as often occurs in these sorts of extended battles.

Screenshot from 2013-05-01 18:20:22.png

Generally, I like action to be more balanced with narrative, but in this case, I respect Palmiotti and Gray's approach. For one thing, they are constantly delivering narrative even as the fisticufffs fly, so the action is far from one dimensional. More importantly, Batwing is a book in danger of being canceled, and if the new creative team cannot grab a following quickly, then Batwing will soon be in the scrap heap, and if I can figure that out, I'm sure veteran writers Palmiotti and Gray have figured out the same thing. If they think that a stronger focus on the action will lure new readers, then I'm willing to play along though the pacing will need to slow down at some point.

Doubts and Relief

I had lots of doubts nagging me on this series but most of them were alleviated.

Will Luke blend with the Family dynamics or will he fit awkwardly with the established players?

Luke seems to blend quite nicely at least with Bruce. He even managed to wrangle a smile out of the Caped Crusader.

Is a tech based enemy really the way to go for a first issue?

I'm still a little cynical on that one, but it turns out that the tech baddies are more cannon fodder while the real baddie is flesh and blood, and that seems to strike the right balance for the series.

Does the dialogue feel fresh or will it be stilted as it was at times in Batwing #19?

I did not feel like the writers were completely comfortable writing for all the characters in this issue, but the dialogue never felt bad.

Will the art team deliver?

Yeah, I felt like they did a good job. Eduardo Pansica. (former penciler for Wonder Woman and current penciler for Batwing) did an especially good job in that he was able to sell even the more ridiculous concepts like some of the crazy looking villains. The rest of the art team also did an admirable job.

Bat Droppings

1. The first think I noticed when I looked at this issue was that the cover had changed. A quick googling showed that the sketch for the cover had not actually changed, but the color scheme had been altered. The new version is much better with the red of the villain in the background contrasting with Batwing's costume better than the gray of the original cover design.

2. Another aspect of the story that I was skeptical of was Luke's strained relationship with Lucius Fox. Haven't we seen enough strained or broken family relations in comics? However, the actual issue did a lot to sell me on the concept. Lucius is not necessarily a bad father nor is Luke a particularly bad son, but Lucius is a perfectionist and expects Luke to conform to Lucius' version of perfection whereas Luke wants to travel his own path. This could be a good dynamic if handled correctly.

(Spoilers Until Conclusion)

3. I was impressed with Palmiotti and Gray, and in a way disappointed in past writers, that they succeeded in creating an environment that felt uniquely African much more successfully than did writers for most past issues of Batwing. There were lots of little touches that gave this impression such as the names of Lion-Mane's wives, at least two of which were named after African goddesses.

4. Batwing mentions being trained by a Sensei Tsunemoto. Bruce was shown to be trained once by a Mater Tsunetomo. Coincidence or significant?

5. The ending questions setting up for the next issue felt like they could have been ripped off an episode of Batman '66. “Will this be the end of Batwing?” No. I'm pretty sure there are solicits out for the next month.

Conclusion 9/10

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The issue is a bit more action centered than I generally prefer, and I'm not yet completely sold on Luke as Batwing, but this is a promising start that delivers a very big bang for your buck, and it has some substance underneath the flash. I'm not yet convinced that this new ride will last for the long haul, but it's made a noteworthy debut. If you are invested in the Batman mythos, you should pick up this issue because this will definitely be a character who make some waves at least in the short term and perhaps for decades to come.


Hold Up! BatWatch is more than just comic book reviews. We also host News Articles, Commentary, and Image Galleries for the whole Bat Family. Stick around and check it out.

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BatWatch Review: Batwing #19

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A Season of Change

Two weeks ago on the day comics came out, I woke up, and the first thing I did was buy and download Batwing and skip to the end to find out who would next be wearing the mantle. I almost never do this sort of thing, but this question had been nagging at me for over a month, and I did not want to be tortured all day at work wondering who it was, so I peeked. Despite the fact that it was the first issue I looked at that day, I have not reviewed it until now. I go in order of popularity in my reviews starting with the most popular titles and working my way down, so Tec' got most of my attention that night. I also prioritize the new articles of BatWatch over the old overdue articles, and for the past two weeks, I've been swept from project to project both in and out of BatWatch, and though I did finally manage to actually read the issue, I'm just now getting words on paper. Even now, I am going to be criminally unjust to the book by being very brief, but I have got to get caught up on past reviews, so I'm cutting corners.

This issue promises to do two monumental things. It is going to end the story of David Zavimbe, and it is going to introduce a new Batwing. To deliver this tale, we have the new writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray.

Is this a fitting end to a noble hero of Batman, Incorporated or is this a tragic betrayal for a loyal soldier in DC's army?

An End for David Zavimbe

In short, I think this was a pretty good conclusion for David in terms of plot points. The presentation of this final chapter of his story left a little to be desired, but we will get to that later.

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I'm glad David's tenure ended in a conversation with Bruce because this is also how his career as Batwing began, and that gave the story a sort of bookend feeling that went a long ways in selling the concept that David's story is done. Though I enjoyed the apparent promise to kill those who deserved it at the end of Batwing #18, I'm glad David ended up resigning from his position rather than being fired because he chose to kill. It feels like David was ready to move on, and though I know he is a fictional character with no will of his own, I kind of feel like his willingness to move on gives me permission to move on as well and enjoy a new character in the role.

There is something poignant in the reason Batwing left too. I love when he says, and this is a paraphrase, “The symbol doesn't work here. It's not the same...I have to do figure out how to do this on my own.” There is a real case to be made that David is not quitting. He's evolving as his own hero, and though he may never play an important role in the Bat verse again, I know in my mind, he will still be a guy who is trying to do good with his life even if he is not wearing a costume.

I also liked that Palmiotti and Gray avoided making the ending to neat for David. We get resolutions to the different plot lines which are only about three-quarters satisfying. Dawn appears as if she may reform, but we do not know exactly what choice she will make. David takes out Sky-Pirate's ship, but we do not see the fate of Sky-Pirate, and that leaves things a little unsettled. Batwing kisses Kia, but they aren't exactly walking off into the sunset together. Everything is partially resolved, and that feels right for some reason.

The one issue I do wish they would have resolved a little more firmly is the matter of Ancil Marksbury. Granted, he had a complete end to his story, but I really felt there needed to be a bigger fight scene somewhere in this book just to satisfy that action itch we comic fans have, and Ancil is the guy I wanted to see thrashed. (Sky-Pirate might seem like the better choice, but I suspect he and David might have a reckoning at a later date.

Bat Droppings

1. Though I liked the basic events that happened to Batwing, the dialogue was very clunky at times. It often involved way too much exposition as if Palmiotti and Gray thought that since they were new to the series, they had to explain everything that had happened in the last eighteen issues for the benefit of others. At some points, it felt like David was about to say, “I am angry at you Dawn, the mercenary antihero that was once my childhood friend who recently broke out a bad guy from prison and appears to be morally neutral.” Spelling out the plot might have been an intentional move so that any new readers that jumped on the series would not become confused, but in that respect, I think they should have just let Fabian Nicieza finish this arc. It would have worked just as well, and it would have had the same tone in terms of dialogue.

2. Batwing's head butt of Dawn looked really brutal. I rather enjoyed it.

3. You've got to love seeing a sociopath in pain, but once again, how many gadgets does David have in that costume? I guess we can add jumper cables to the inventory.

4. I guess we are just overlooking the fact that David probably would have killed dozens of people by blowing of Sky-Pirate's ship. I don't really have a problem with killing murderers myself, but I think Bruce would have had words. I'm assuming we are supposed to believe only the ship was destroyed and the crew survived, but that is so improbable.

Spoilers Until Conclusion

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5. Matu's death was moving, but not nearly as much as I would have liked. After reading the scene over and over again, I don't think there is anything wrong with it. Instead, I think the lack of emotional resonance for me is that I never really felt I knew the character that well. He seemed like a nice enough guy, but most of his conversations with David seemed to reveal little about him as a person. It simply made it difficult to care deeply about him.

6. Batman's interaction with Alfred in the cave was a bit comical. He loses one Batwing and immediately feels he must replace him? What's up with that? It's almost like, “Gee, we have this brand new costume. I guess I need a new partner.” The fact that the new guy is also black is kind of funny as well. Is this the official black guy costume? As soon as one black guy leaves the organization, Batman immediately has to replace him with another black guy wearing the exact same costume with the same codename? Is the Justice League giving Batman some sort of quota for ethnicity? I have no point on this. I just thought it was funny. It kind of exposes that this is a comic book because an extra costume should not in any way prompt Bruce to find a new recruit.

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7. Luke Fox seems like a promising character. I like the idea of a more upbeat member of the Bat Family which is what the writers have promised. He seems like he has the skills on the physical and technical end, and he will indeed fit the bill for getting Batwing more attached to the rest of the Family. I'm not sure I like the idea, however, of Luke being at odds with his father because it is a formula we have seen so many times previously. Can't any heroes have a good relationship with their living parents?

Conclusion 8/10

It was a pretty good end for David Zavimbe. There was some stiff dialogue, and it felt just a smidge rushed, but I liked how it resolved most of the conflicts while leaving enough doors open to keep some mystery about his future. As for the new Batwing, I very much look forward to seeing how he is developed.

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Review: Batwing #18

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Casualties of War

I'm pretty stoked about this issue of Batwing. I enjoyed the Sky-Pirate from last issue, and the creative team is saying that someone will die soon. The obvious choice target for death would be Matu for Heaven knows a hero cannot be allowed to have a father figure, but there are other options. Another intriguing question is what will happed to David Zavimbe and who will replace him? Jimmy Palmiotti (former inker and cover artist for Catwoman, inker for Jonah Hex, writer for Ame-Comi Girls and current writer for All-Star Western) , and Justin Gray (former writer for Jonah Hex and Power Girl and current writer for Ame-Comi Girls, All-Star Western, and Human Bomb) have made it sound as if he will still be alive in future issues, but supposedly, there will be a new person in the suit. There are not many options. Could Dawn possibly fill the boots, and if not, what role does she play in this story?

At the moment, I have more questions than answers, but that is a good place to be when getting psyched for a comic. Now, it is time to find some answers. Does Batwing #18 add intrigue, action, and suspense to the tale of Batwing, or is this one hero who has had his wings permanently clipped?

In this issue, David Zavimbe faces Dawn while Sky-Pirate destroys Batwing's base gravely injuring Matu.

Bat Droppings

Due to being behind on schedule, I'm going to do things Bat Droppings style because it makes reviews go more quickly.

1. We've got a really nice, sharp, content appropriate cover from the artist for this issue, Fabrizio Fiorentino. (former artist of Titans and current artist of Batwing) It's nice that Batwing has finally broken its streak of boring, generic cover art.

2. Speaking of Fiorentino, his work looked sharp in this issue for the most part though faces did occasionally look a little off such as Dawn's in her first appearance this issue.

3. I find myself, once more, wishing that this comic would take sometime establishing exactly what is and what is not part of Batwing's system of operations. The base now features which were previously undisclosed. It's past time for some ground rules.

4. I am loving Sky-Pirate as a villain. He has an arrogance and pragmatism which makes him so much more interesting than the average obsessed, bloodthirsty psychopath. His costume, ship, and crew are all very interesting. I hope he becomes a recurring villain.

5. I think I mentioned in my last review that Sky-Pirate's asymmetrical mask design intrigues me, but I do not think I realized until after I wrote last month's review that there is significance to this design. It is mimicking an eye patch like the pirates of yore.

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6. The dialogue is strong throughout this issue, and it is especially nice to get some insight into David's head. This is much better than Judd Winick's (former writer of Batman, Batwing, and Green Arrow) most recent handling of the character where David was pretty much viewed just on a surface level.

7. According to Palmiotti and Gray, there will be a new person in the armor soon, and I am wondering if it might be Dawn. She is currently acting as a villain, but she has previously acted as a hero. Perhaps this arc could make her more of a hero?

8. The moral ambiguity of David's boss, Sita, if fitting with the theme of police corruption.

9. I was actually surprised that Matu was injured in the explosion. I figured he would have made it to a safe room in the base. It has been implied that Matu will die, but usually, comic deaths come through direct violent means and not through a prolonged, drawn out hospital stay.

Spoilers until Conclusion

10. It is a little odd that Sky-Pirate's ship is still hovering around Tinasha scanning random civilians.

11. It's about time somebody use some facial recognition tech on one of these heroes with lousy masks that barely cover facial features.

12. Foolish as it was, it was nice to see David cut loose on the crooked cops. I think its safe to say that David has officially burned all his bridges. Again, this raises the question of how the series can continue.

13. Matu leaves a note about a bomb. I would assume this bomb will be used to destroy the pirate ship.

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14. The last two pages of this issue are amazing. It really got me fired up for the next issue. I am going to guess that Batwing will not resort to lethal force, but he mentions that he, “Tried to be someone he is not,” which is something I've been considering recently. Batwing and all the other Batmans from Batman Incorporated have basically adopted Bruce's mantle rather than creating their own. Doesn't David and the other Batmen, from both an in-universe and narrative viewpoint, need to find their own path rather than jumping on to Bruce's?

15. I was not expecting a new outfit this month. It is not the same outfit as we will see in Batwing #20 with the full face mask, and it is not the same suit as he previously wore. The suit is darker and has many glowing slashes (which would probably be unhelpful from a stealth perspective but look absolutely amazing) the wings are shaped differently and glow, and the Bat symbol is different. On the other hand, it still is not a full face mask, and it is lighter than the future Batwing costume. I suppose this is a good hint of David's possible internal transformation which is on the cusp of becoming a reality if he kills once more.

Conclusion 9/10

I greatly enjoyed this issue. I am very much confused about what the future holds for Batwing, but if it continues to contain stories like this, count me in.

More Recent Reviews:

Batman #18

Batman and Robin #18

Batwing #18

Legends of the Dark Knight #39-40

Review: Batwing #17

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The Dying Breath

I'm having an incredibly hard time getting my brain to focus right now, so again, I ask for your patience with this review because I am having difficulty thinking due to lack of sleep and illness.

I'm sad to learn that Fabian Nicieza will be leaving Batwing because I've had high hopes for his work on this series. Last issue was a great intro to his first real arc on Batwing which delved into the political realities of The Democratic Republic of the Congo while still delivering a kick butt superhero story. David arrested and charged a rich man's son for murder, and because of that, David has few allies either on or off the force and it appears he will draw some serious fire for his actions. Does this next chapter continue the positive trend in Batwing writing, or does Batwing fail to deliver?

In this issue, Batwing faces a armored behemoth whose weapons dwarf his own, the rich man tries to uncover Batwing's secret identity, and David loses his last ally on the police force.

Bat Droppings

Yeah, so I'm too tired to organize my thoughts clearly, so I'm just going to throw them out as they come to me.

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l. I really enjoyed the visual designs in this issue especially relating to Sky Pirate. His asymmetrical mask especially intrigued me. The concept behind Sky Pirate is pretty cool too. There are modern day pirates, so why not a super villain pirate? Its a somewhat fresh concept which seems to take SHIELD's helicarrier design and combined it with a technologically advanced pirate ship manned with extraordinarily intelligent pirates.

2. The name Sky Pirate is a bit to simplistic for my taste.

3. David had large parts of his suit trashed this issue, and in upcoming solicits, he has a new costume. Could it be that the next time he wears the suit it will be a completely new suit of armor? Speaking of the suit, I'm glad they will finally be giving him facial protection.

4. It was nice to see David show some righteous indignation towards his fellow police officers' corrupt ways, but something is going to have to give in this scenario. Either the police department will have to partially reform, or David will need a new job. Perhaps they could continue this harsh work environment for a time (harsh here meaning your coworkers want you dead) but that would become ridiculous after awhile.

5. (spoiler) The inclusion of Dawn is very confusing. The issue treats this as if it is a big reveal, but she was clearly named early in the issue, and it is not like she has been gone a long time. She was playing a major role just two issues ago, yet in that short timespan, she seems to have completely changed her MO and allegiance. She used to use energy blades. Now she uses some weird...gunish weapons. Her costume is not remotely similar. She was fighting against Father Loss, but in the few weeks since that has happened, she has already sold out all her values? That's a quick change for you.

6. This issue had a lot of action and it ended up feeling a bit short. Luckily, the action is good.

Screenshot from 2013-02-08 19:35:39.png

(Spoiler) 7. There was one major annoyance, the line, “It had to be my childhood friend Rachel Niamo, the mercenary known as Dawn!” I almost dropped the score a nothc just on that line alone. Totally campy and full of unnecessary exposition. If anything, the line only brings up more questions whereas an old reader would know who the character was already and a new reader would be able to guess from the context.

Conclusion 9/10

A campy line or two didn't detract from the genuine rush this issue provided. I'm not ready to say Batwing as a whole is a great or even a good series, but if these last two issues are any indication, it is moving in that direction.

Review: Batwing #16

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A Blind Eye Sees Red

Batwing started strong, but it has been struggling ever since. The last two issues from writer Judd Winick felt like he was just going through the motions. Luckily, help arrived in the last issue in the form of new writer Fabian Nicieza. I loved Nicieza's work with Robin and Red Robin, so I have some high hopes for his work with Batwing, but the reality of Nicieza's more recent run on Legion Lost also bears some consideration since that series has done very poorly throughout the DCNU. Is Fabian able to take Batwing and send him soaring to new heights, or does this bat take a nosedive and plow face first into the dry African soil?

In this issue, David Zavimbe is unable to stop the young killer, Ancil Marksbury, in his role as a police officer because the police department has largely been bought off by Ancil's rich father. Despite the objections of Matu, Batwing decides it is time to target the Marksbury family and the corruption in the police force.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo

As David went door to door investigating the murder as a police officer, I noticed that almost all the characters in the neighborhood were white, and that struck me as odd since most of the characters in this series and the people in Africa are black. It implied that there is some large racial divide in the country, and that thought made me curious about the setting of the Batwing series. I knew it was somewhere in Africa, but I could not remember anything else in particular.

Doing some quick research, I found that the city David calls home, Tinasha, does not exist, but it is a fictional city set in the very real location of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The DRC is an interesting place. It is the rape capital of the world. Parts of the country are still fighting what is known as the African World War despite the fact that the war ended many years ago. 5.4 million have died from the effects of the conflict since 1998. I did not find any information on the racial breakdown of the nation except to see that there are many different ethnic groups, but I did see plenty of evidence to demonstrate that the Democratic Republic of the Congo is a very messed up place.

Even before I had done any research, I already wished that Batwing would focus more on the real problems of Africa. Now, it feels like more than a lost opportunity; it feels like a requirement to really understand the failings and lack of civilization present in this series. We get hints of it here and there, but I think a history lesson, attached to ongoing events in the story, would actually be very helpful to the impact of this series.

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Stepping Up

This issue was definitely a step up from Winick. This issue focuses squarely on the police corruption which was only looked at sparingly in previous issues. David, for better or worse, forces the conflict between himself and the corrupt police officers to come to a head, and many are caught in the crossfire. The events of this issue set David up for some very precarious situations while out of his costume, and it appears that he will be taking some heat as Batwing as well.

The supporting cast, both in terms of allies and enemies, grows immensely in this one issue though it is unclear how many of them will stick around long term.

The actions scenes, brief as they are, work quite well. It is much, much better than the Father Lost story wherein David simply gets mind controlled three times and finally finds a way to stop it the third time round.

The art is very good with some especially nice uses of reflections. Also, Batwing uses a hologram at one point which was rendered with a cool effect. The only problem I saw with the art was that Batwing fired missiles at one point, yet these missiles are drawn in such a way as to appear as if they do not come from him. They look like the originated from some other angle.

There was at least one mistake in the dialogue. Batwing thinks, “They this club,” which I believe was meant to read, “They own this club.” There were a few other phrases that felt a little off, but perhaps they were written correctly.

Conclusion 9/10

This is a great issue; it is by far the best since zero month. If this is the quality of work we can expect from Nicieza, then Batwing might just have a bright future. However, there are a few little problems, and the series would benefit from a better understanding of its unique setting.

Review: Batwing #15


Lost and Found

Batwing is a book with a whole lot of potential and not a whole lot else going for it right now. Just this week, I started reading the original run of DCNU, “The Kingdom,” and it seems to be a very solid and entertaining story, but this current “A Hard Turn” story arc focusing on Father Lost? It’s just not that good. There is hope, however. The old writer was Judd Winick, but he has moved on to other projects and handed the reigns over to Fabian Nicieza, a writer I very much enjoyed through his excellent work on Red Robin. Does Nicieza manage to find some sense in this current plotline, or is this arc a lost cause?

In this issue, it’s all about the battle as Batwing takes on the psychic cult leader Father Lost.

Hope Shines through the Cracks

I was hoping to be blown away by Fabian’s work on this issue, but I realized my hopes might be a bit high. Even if Nicieza has great ideas for this character, he was somewhat limited by the previous issues in this arc. It is not as if he can start fresh with his own story; he has to continue where Winick left off…which was a somewhat tedious starting point.

Was I blown away? No, but I do think there are hints of better things to come.

The main thing that intrigued me in Nicieza’s presentation of the character is that he seems to be painting him as a guy very torn between his nature. David wants desperately to do good, but he has a lot of anger which he must keep in check. We get an idea of this because we get to actually see David’s thoughts in this issue which is actually a huge relief. For some reason, Winick seemed reluctant to let reader in to David’s head, but Fabian knows how to write some inner monologue, and I feel like I got a better impression of who David is in this issue than I have in any previous issues.

Batwing’s fight with Father Lost was well scripted. The whole thing is a little awkward because it was utterly foolish for Batwing to try and take Father Lost head on when Batwing knows he is susceptible to mind control, but that scenario was created by Winick, and I Nicieza did the best he could under the circumstances.

As one last bit of hope, Fabian seems like he is trying to build at least one promising subplot centered around Kia.

Father Lost.png

Better Is Not Good

This issue is definitely better than the last, but it still is not particularly good. I am hoping that most of this is due to Winick’s poor setup, but regardless of the reason behind it, this issue was just okay.

As I already mentioned, the fight with Father Lost was kind of stupid. Batwing already knew what would happen with taking on Father Lost in a straightforward manner, so why didn’t he come prepared? Heroes being mind controlled rarely makes for an entertaining story, and though Matu’s intervention kept this issue from becoming a repeat of the last, it still made for a mediocre and overly convoluted battle.

Father Lost himself was a rather lackluster character. We find out in this issue the who the ambiguous “she” is that Father Lost keeps mentioning, but she turns out to be just some crazy hag who had similar powers and taught Father Lost how to use them. His motivation seems to be nothing more than a slight variation of “I am evil because I am evil. Bwa, ha, ha!” and I’ve seen enough of those kinds of villains to last me a lifetime.

I Am Not To Disappointed

I was hoping to see a reunion of Marcus to with Fabian Nicieza since those two worked together on the Red Robin series, and I, with my poor artistic sense, was disappointed that Marcus To was not really providing his usual quality of work on this issue, but I then realized that Marcus To has moved on, and we now have a new artist, Fabrizio Fiorentino. (by the way, how awesome is that name? It sounds noble. I am count Fabrizio Fiorentino!) When looking over the issue again not expect To’s work, I was actually quite pleased. Fiorentino has a different style than To, but it is very nice in its own way. The new colorist, Pantazis, also does an excellent job giving the book a very vibrant look, and he uses different color schemes to give each scene its own feel.

Conclusion 7/10

I wanted this issue to be great, but it is just okay. If you are a fan of the series, then you should definitely pick this one up, but if you are on the fence, skim through it in the store first. I have high hopes for this new creative team, but I think the script was limited by the previous issues in this arc. We will see what the new team can really do next month. 

Batwing #14


The Nightmares Never Stop

When I first read Batwing a few months ago, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the story. I was even more impressed by the zero issue that explored David’s tragic background. However, I was very disappointed in last month’s issue, and I began to wonder if I had overestimated the series. Though David and Africa are rich with potential developments, the writer of the series, Judd Winick, has not produced much fruit in either area and has instead taken the time to produce fairly generic villains and heroes for David to encounter. Even Marcus To’s usually fantastic art was underwhelming in the last issue. Does this month’s issue convince me that my original evaluation of the series was correct, or did I show a severe lack of sound judgment in declaring Batwing good quality?

In this issue, Batwing and Dawn battle their way through a group of Followers.

To Is Back in the Game

Marcus To does a better job in this issue than last which is a good thing because over half the issue is action, and To pretty much carries the issue. Father Lost is seen this time around, and I very much like his visual design; he looks quite menacing. It does seem like To is not making sketches as detailed as he has in much of his previous work, but at least what he does draw looks quite good. He especially does a nice job with faces in this issue.


Blah, Blah, Blah

I’m finding it very difficult to find much to say about this issue because there was simply not much to it. The only semi-creative element of the plot was that Father Lost briefly possesses Batwing, but I found this mostly surprising because it came out of nowhere. I did not even know Father Lost possessed psychic powers. It was clear Father Lost had sway over the Followers, but I had no idea he was psychically controlling them. Furthermore, it is conveniently swept away when Dawn places an amulet on him which…apparently makes him possession free.

It was fairly entertaining when David later swept up a woman for interrogation, but honestly, that is Bat Clan 101. We have all seen that move dozens of times. Batwing really does not deserve credit for that.

In addition to the lackluster plot, David has no personal development in this issue. I am tired of only seeing who David was as a child and never seeing who David is in the present. Does this even have a social life?

Conclusion 6/10

If I were only judging this story by the creativeness of its plot, it would get a very low score, but despite some unimaginative scripting, the story was still a fun if predictable ride. If you really like Batwing or you just want some decent violence, pick this issue up, but if you are on the fence, sit this arc out. 

Review: Batwing #13

A Hard Turn

Batwing is a divisive book in the DCNU's lineup. Some believe it to be a high quality series delivering great stories while others think it is mundane at best and deserves to be cancelled to make way for a higher quality and more original series. There is definitely some truth in the idea that Batwing is the bastard son of Batman and Ironman, but I do not hold the view that Batwing is a throwaway book. In fact, I thought last Batwing had one of the strongest zero issues in the entire Batman lineup. Does this issue prove that David is as good a vigilante as any other Bat, or does it make the case that Batwing should be put on the endangered species list?

In this issue, Batwing investigates the murderous cult "The Finders" who follow the teachings of Father Lost who orders that blood sacrifices be made in the name of an unknown goddess. While David tracks the cult, Dawn, another vigilante, has already begun to dismantle The Finders.

Too Many Unknowns

At the end of the issue, I was disappointed to find that I did not much care for it. Don't get me wrong, it is not a bad comic, but it definitely left something to be desired.

I think it is the unknowns which spoil the issue. I enjoyed the zero issue of Batwing because I got to know David as a person. Here, we see through his interaction with his fellow officers that he has courage and compassion, but other than two pages, we do not see David outside his suit, and without any real inner monologue, we can only guess what is happening in his head. The new heroine Dawn has a cool set of laser blades, but we do not know anything about her motivation or background, and too little has been revealed to make her interesting. The motivation of Father Lost is also unknown, and the motivation of the cultists was ambiguous at best. Even the tech Batwing uses in this issue raises serious questions. David's suit cannot punch through plexiglass but it can push a plane off course? A few more answers to basic questions would have improved the whole issue.

What's Toing On?

I love Marcus To's work, and even in this issue, characters and action scenes looked pretty good, but I found myself confused on what exactly was happening several times. Almost every action scene had a moment wherein I had to reread to understand it. In one scene, people commit suicide by stabbing their stomachs. A stomach wound could definitely kill a person, but it would take quite a while, and these characters were dead almost instantly. This could be a problem of the scripting, but I found it very odd that they stabbed their stomachs rather than hearts.

Father Lost...Found?

As a name, Father Lost sounds pretty intriguing, but this issue kept his identity a secret. Yet, it seems obvious that the only surviving cultist, who possesses some unexplained powers, is probably the bad guy. If this turns out to be the big reveal of this story arc, I'll be very disappointed.

Conclusion 6/10

I found this whole issue disappointing. It is worth a purchase for any big fans of the series or a creator, but everyone else should wait for this one to come out in trade.

Batwing #12

I Am One with This Land

Batwing is certainly not the first black character to be associated with the Bat Family, but he is the first to get his own ongoing series. In that regard, the Batwing ongoing series is one of the few real surprises to come out of the DCNU reboot. With only a measly two appearances in the old DCU, it surprised many people that this practical non-entity was suddenly given his own series. A cynical man would say that that Batwing is nothing more than another cash in on the Batman franchise with which DC hopes to appeal to a larger demographic by virtue of having an African character in a batsuit, but the real issue is not the motivation behind the series but whether DC has managed to make an interesting and entertaining story. Certainly, Africa is a rich setting for a Batman story containing more than its fair share of corruption and violence, but does Batwing capitalize on this?

In this issue, Batwing teams up with Justice League International and Nightwing to take out Lord Battle, the ruler of the African nation of Tundi, who intends to destroy the resources of nearby nations to ensure more power for his own country.

Who Is Batwing?

I enjoyed Batwing in this issue, but I did not feel that I really got to know him very well. I am passingly familiar with his back-story, and I find it compelling and relevant, but I did not get any sense of who the character is outside the mask in this issue. I am sure that much of this has been explored in previous issues, but I think every single issue should move a character forward personally as well as heroically.

I also found that Batwing’s suit bothered me. I was one of the few that did not immediately object when I first saw the costume design, but I found that after looking at it for a little longer, it does bother me. The suit itself is fine, but the way the mask angles off of the head and up to the point of his ears just rubs me the wrong way. I think with a little adjustment, it could easily be an excellent costume.

As for the story itself, I enjoyed it. Props to Winick for telling a good team story while maintaining a solid focus on Batwing. Even though I have not read any issues of Justice League International, I felt comfortable with all the characters and did not feel I needed any exterior information to understand their roles in the story. That takes good writing skill.

The Bad Guy

Lord Battle is a potentially interesting character, but I felt he could have used some more character development. At the end of the issue, readers do not know where he got his powers or what exactly motivated his actions, but perhaps this was established earlier in the arc. I very much enjoyed how Batwing discovered and exploited Lord Battle's weakness, but again, I felt it needed explanation which was never provided.

The Inker Effect?

I really enjoyed the art in this issue. I don’t know what is being done which requires three different inkers, but it seems to be working. All the characters looked quite dynamic and the colors were striking.

Conclusion 7/10

In the end, I thought Batwing was alright. It is neither exceptionally good nor exceptionally bad; it registers about even in my book. However, I do think there is potential here, and there is a very good chance that there have been more substantive issues which I have just had the misfortune of missing. I look forward to reading the next issue.

Batwing #0

They Will Pay for What They’ve Given Birth To

I just read my first issue of Batwing last week, and I was pleasantly surprised to find a very good story. However, I came in on the end of a story arc, and one issue does not a good series make, so my opinion on Batwing remains up in the air. Does this issue help build the case that Batwing is an excellent series, or does it show that Batwing is unworthy to fly with the other bats?

In this issue, we travel with David as he goes from a boy soldier to member of Batman Incorporated. Along the way, we learn more about the tragedies and families that have shaped him into the hero he is today.

I Am Sold On Batwing

It is fully possible that the next issue of Batwing will suck, but I have been convinced that the life of David Zavimbe provides plenty of room for character development and excellent stories. I love that Winick is pulling in real issues present in Africa such as the AIDS epidemic and boy guerilla fighters. This adds a level of realism and uniqueness to Batwing’s stories. I liked that David, more so than Batman, seems to want villains to suffer for the pain they inflict on others.

On other points, this particular comic covered a great deal of time, but it was paced in such a way that the story felt natural rather than rushed. Marcus To does an excellent job with the penciling, and the colors are solid as well.

Batwing and Batman

Not surprisingly, David’s tale of growing up is similar in many ways to the tale of Bruce Wayne. David’s crusade was born out of personal loss and a desire for vengeance. David is a genius and an excellent hand-to-hand combatant, yet he refuses to use lethal force. David was watched over by an older man who serves as a father figure. However, David’s origin also differs from Bruce in important ways. David did not grow up with wealth and opportunity. He started working within the system and then broke free. While being forced to work as a guerilla, David actually killed people. I thought Winick did a great job of following the Batman formula and yet making David his own character.

Into Each Comic...

I did have a couple of problems with the issue. First, Batwing uses escrima sticks to great effect in this issue, yet I have not seen them use them since he received his costume. What gives? Second, though the writing was mostly good in this issue, Batwing was

talking to a grave at one point, and his dialogue seemed a bit forced. I can see people saying a little at a gravesite, but having a long conversation which conveniently moves the plot along is a bit much. Comics give us inner monologue boxes. Why not use them?


A couple of things in this issue surprised me. We get a glimpse of some other African vigilantes, and one of them looks decidedly like Thunder from the Outsiders. As far as I know, neither Thunder nor her father, Black Lightning, have made an appearance in the DCNU, so this might be a first. Also, apparently Lucius Fox knows the identity of Batman now? I must have missed that memo.

Conclusion 9/10

I’ve been very pleased with Batwing, and I hope the good work continues.