BatWatch Review: Legends of the Dark Knight #66 - #68 I...Batman

I...Batman

The title for this issue sounds like some sort of philosophical treatise on what it means to be the Caped Crusader, but some interviews I've seen with the creator of this arc leads me to believe this is more like a case of Batman meets Frankenstein's monster. The story is written and drawn by Aaron Lopresti,  (former artist for Justice League International and cover artist for Wonder Woman and current writer and artist for Legends of the Dark Knight and penciler for Earth 2) a man who has done a lot of quality fill in work for Batman titles recently. Let's see if his writing can match his art.

Is this story of FrankenBatman an awe inspiring new creation or an unholy monster worthy of death? 

In this issue, an eccentric doctor tries to make a new Batman. Disaster ensues.  

Something Primal

As with the original Frankenstein story and the countless adaptions that have followed, this tale holds something primal in it. There is a real fear of death, and there is also some instinctive fear of messing with death. Vampires and zombies, groups that seem to hold endless fascination for people these days, are both examples of things dying...yet not staying dead, and and that seems to be both curious and horrifying to humanity.

So will seeing a Franken-Batman hold some appeal for you? Almost certainly. Is this a good story? No.  

The whole thing is silly even by Batman standards. The motivation for this doctor's actions seems to be firmly in the realm of "He's crazy," and Franken-Batman and all that happens with him is comically stereotypical of the Frankenstein style monster. (in pop culture. The original book's Frankenstein was actually quite intelligent)  It feels like the story might be going somewhere interesting through the first two acts, but when we finally see what has been building, it's the prototypical Frankenstein story...with Batman. The doctor plays with fire and the doctor gets burned. If anything, it dumbs down the telling of the story because there are no apparent lessons or even themes. The story is ended in such a way as to imply that trying to aspire to be a hero is a bad thing, but I find it hard to believe that is what Lopresti meant to convey, and even if he did, it takes a pretty cross eyed view of his own story to reach that conclusion.

Conclusion 5/10

It's a good looking story, and there is something fascinating about a Frankenstein style monster, but this is not worth your money.

More Reviews

Batman 23.3 - The Penguin  

Detective Comics #23.3 - Scarecrow 

Batman and Robin #23.3 - Ra's Al Ghul 

The Dark Knight #23.3 - Clayface 

Teen Titans #23.2 - Deathstroke  

Batman '66 #12 - The Clock King Strikes 

Legends of the Dark Knight #66 - #68 - I...Robot

BatWatch Review: Legends of the Dark Knight #63 - #65 - Elements of Crime

Elements of Crime

Elements of Crime, huh? That's a mysterious title. The only character that springs to mind is Metamorpho, and he wouldn't likely play a villain.

I'm excited about this issue not because of the vague promise of the title but because of the cover. The full cover art shows Tim Drake in his classic Robin outfit, and it's been two years since I've seen my favorite comic character. I desperately want Tim to get some panel time in this issue, and if he's overshadowed by that pompous, inferior Batman, I'll be really steamed.  

In all seriousness, I am hoping for a good issue. I'm familiar with neither the writer or artist, so this is going to be a mystery until I start reading. Mike W. Barr (former writer of Batman and the Outsiders and Detective Comics and current writer of Legends of the Dark Knight) is the writer of the series, and he has a significant Batman background having been the creator and frequent writer of The Outsiders. Tom Lyle (former artist for Starman and current artist of Legends of the Dark Knight) is leading the art team, and the only thing I've seen of his is the Robin miniseries which were really well done even if Robin II made Joker look like Michal Jackson. I'm not sure what to expect from this arc, but it seems like a promising creative team.

Do I finally get to see my beloved Tim Drake return to comics or is this just make him into yet another monstrosity?  

And Now for Something Completely Different

Alright, you would never guess the content of this issue. What Barr did here was take the attitude of Batman '66 and transplant it into the look and world of 90's Batman. It's truly bizarre.

The villainess of this piece is The Element Queen, a character with no preexisting comic appearances even though the issue refers to her as if she's a classic Batman baddie. She has an interest in alchemy and some elemental based powers. In many ways, the story is serious in the way things happen. Strip away the goofy dialogue, and this would be an okay story, but Batman here sounds exactly like Adam West, and though this character is Tim Drake, he sounds an awful lot like Burt Ward with only a few modern concessions. It's almost like someone kidnapped the Batman and Robin of the nineties, reprogrammed them with West style wholesomeness and set them back on their merry way.  

It's not an exact replica of that feel, however. Batman roughs up a baddie at one point not to subdue the criminal but just to enact some vengeance, yet at the same time, Bruce forbids Robin from swearing, questions him about his forbidden knowledge about sex and discovers leads from the most feeble of clues. It's just...weird, and it didn't work for me. We have the whole Batman '66 thing happening in its own series now. If you wanted to go that direction, why not just commit? Instead of being able to enjoy a goofy Batman story, I found myself treating it seriously only to be pulled out time and time again by a moment of dialogue that just could not fit with the visual and narrative tone of the book. It threw me off kilter and kept me from enjoying the story in either a serious or goofy manner.

From either perspective, The Element Queen and King (yes, there are two of them) both need to be explored in terms of their abilities. The fight scenes, of which there were many, seem random because we have no idea what powers the Elements royalty possess.

One of the coolest aspects of this story is that we get to see a well thought out death trap which mocks the death traps of Batman '66, but while the first escape was cool, the second one did not make any sort of sense, so that brief magic was lost.  

Bat Droppings

1. It was nice to see Tom Lyle's art once more. I was definitely taken back to the glory days of Robin's miniseries with the spiky hair and all. The colors, on the other hand, gave the issue a little bit more modern a feel.  

2. It's nice to see one of the classic Batmobiles back in action. I don't recall where this one originated, but I know I've seen it many times.  

3. There are lots of little problems with this issue such as Batman grabbing a handrail off of it's mounts and hitting people with it. I mean, are we supposed to believe the welders forgot that one or that Bruce just ripped the welds free? Neither one is plausible. 

4. I realize that Element Queen has no reason to put Batman in a deathtrap rather than kill him outright, but that is no doubt riffing off Batman '66.  

5. It's kind of odd that Simon Stagg was in an issue that dealt with elements but did not include Metamorpho.  

(Spoilers until Conclusion) 

6. I did laugh when I saw that Batman was back in the exact same deathtrap.

Conclusion 5/10

I wish I could say I liked this issue because it was clever in some ways. It probably would have been better appreciated before the revival of Batman '66, but now, we've seen this schtick done better recently. Also, the issue doesn't seem committed to either being serious or being goofy and as such, it's hard to enjoy it as either. It might strike some as genius, but I'm afraid I have to chalk it up as a fail.  

More Reviews:

Batman '66 #7 - #8 - The Joker Sees Red

Batman 66' #9 - Scrambled Eggs 

Li'l Gotham #17 - Bird Watching

Legends of the Dark Knight #63 - #65 - Elements of Crime 

Batman/Superman #3 - Split Screen 

Batman, Incorporated Special #1 

The Dark Knight #23 - Rampant 

Teen Titans #23 - Hello, I Must Be Going

Catwoman #23 - No Blood No Foul 

Talon #11 - True Strength 

BatWatch Review: Legends of the Dark Knight #61 - #62 - Break the Mold

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Break the Mold

When I first started reading Legends nearly a year ago, it quickly became one of my favorite series with fresh and often excellent new takes on Batman every single week, but then it hit a relative dry spell with some mediocre and just plain bad stories. Recently, things have been picking up. We had a fun Riddler story and a trilogy of quality one shots that tied together to tell a greater ongoing tale. Now, we turn our attention to a character who has not, to my knowledge, made a prior Legends appearance, Clayface. I heard an interview with the creative team, writer and artist Shane Davis (former artist of Superman/Batman and cover artist for Trinity and current writer and artist for Legends of the Dark Knight and cover artist for Justice League, The Superior Foes of Spider-Man and Venom) and co-writer Brandon Montclare, (former editor of Vertigo's Madame Xanadu and current writer of Legends of the Dark Knight) and they said that their goal for the story was to show Clayface living up to his ultimate potential as a villain. I look forward to seeing what they have to offer.

Is this story the work of a master potter or just a squashed ball of mud? 

In this issue, Batman is determined to track down Clayface, but for what reason?  

Twisty, Turny and Constantly Shifting

This is a weird one.  

The writers said this story had a bit of a twist and when you read the final panel you would want to go back and reread the story from the beginning, so I came into this with my cynical hat firmly in its place as I tried to question everything. I want to say it's a good mystery piece, and yet a good mystery should be solvable, and I'm not sure this one is because Clayface's motivation is so far afield that I can't imagine anybody putting it together. Still, the story do tip you off that something is amiss, and you do have most of the puzzle pieces available to you by the end, but I just can't imagine how you'd slip the final puzzle piece of motive into place and put together the full picture.

I found one element of the story supremely distracting. The story makes reference to the rain many times throughout, and I noticed that the rain was in some panels of the story yet absent in others. Having my, "Question everything," hat on, I wondered if perhaps this was a tip off that we were dealing with two different time frames that had been interlaced to appear like one continuous scene. (Spoilers) However, my observations didn't seem to clear up any mysteries, and by issue's end, it seemed to play no role. It was odd because twice it seemed to stop raining for no reason, once right before Bruce entered Arkham and once at the end of the battle with Poison Ivy. Whether this was an artistic mistake or the whims of Gotham weather, I'm not sure.

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I will say that this issue did seem to explore the full potential of Clayface. His fight with Batman was pretty epic, and I'm surprised Clayface doesn't try to use that strategy in fighting Bats more often. (Spoilers) Using the appearances of others foes to keep Batman off balance would be very useful, I would think. However, the story did expand Clayface's abilities to include him taking on the actual attributes of those he mimicked. That would make sense of physical characteristics especially if he can copy people on a genetic level now, but learned abilities like the fighting style of Ra's would need a whole new set of powers to learn. Some might feel that Clayface splitting himself into two pieces is a bit cheap from a mystery perspective, but we've actually seen Clayface split apart on many occasions; we've just never seen two parts think well independently, but there is no reason to believe that this is beyond Clayface's ability.

Bat Droppings

1. I was surprised when the front page was made in the typical vertical style found in print comics instead of the usual horizontal digital format. I guess you could do panels any way you feel in a digital format. Heck, you could make pages triangular. It wouldn't hurt nunthin'.

2. Batman beats Joker with a phone book. Who uses phone books any more, and why would Batman care whether or not he was leaving bruises on Joker when he's already been knocking out teeth? 

3. I almost forgot to mention that the artwork by Shane Davis is quite good.  

(Spoilers until Conclusion)

4. If you hadn't figured out that Bats wasn't Bats by the end of the Poison Ivy confrontation, you were being a little slow on the pickup. Leaving the guard to die, being immune to Ivy's toxins and letting Poison Ivy fall to her possible death are all pretty big tip offs along with Bats' already overly hostile manner.

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5. The fight scene with Clayface was awesome, and I didn't see Clayface's end game coming, but the finale does raise questions. Can Clayface make beings who can operate independently and not know they are part of Clayface? How does Clayface program these pieces? That's the big problem with Clayface's whole strategy here. He feels like he just proved himself capable of killing the Bat, but this wasn't really Batman but just some sort of imitation. It's Clayface's version of Batman. 

Conclusion 8/10

This one is definitely worth picking up if you are a Clayface fan, but it's not all it could be. Sure, it keeps you guessing on the first read through, but looking back on it after that, you're left with some unanswered questions and a story which is longer than it needs to be since nothing of import really happened in the first half of the story other than the set up for the later surprise. I think the story would have been better served if it shed a few pages.  

Recent Reviews: 

Batman '66 #1 - #3 - The Riddler's Ruse

 Batman Beyond #27 - #29 - Batgirl Beyond

Batman  '66 #4 - #5 - Emperor Penguin

Batman '66 #6 - Chandell's Chanteuse

Batman Beyond #24 - #26 - Undercloud

Legends of the Dark Knight #56 - #58 - The Beautiful Ugly

Legends of the Dark Knight  #59 - Arm Candy

Legends of the Dark Knight #60 - Reporter's Notebook

Legends of the Dark Knight #61 - #62 - Break the Mold

Li'l Gotham #14 - Independence Day

Li'l Gotahm #15 - Gotham Comiccon!

Detective Comics #23 - Bat and Mouse

Batwing #23 - Smash

BatWatch Review: Legends of the Dark Knight #60 - Reporter's Notebook

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Reporter's Notebook

This is a rather odd setup for Legends with yet a third Batman story by Frank Hannah. (current writer of Legends of the Dark Knight, Superman and Action Comics) The last two stories were one shots that tied into each other, but the last two issues were spaced out over a period of a couple months. This issue comes on the heels of the last, but it's not clear if it is supposed to have any bearing on those that came earlier. Hannah brings yet another fresh artist on board, Dexter Soy. (former artist of Captain Marvel and current artist of Legends of the Dark Knight, Gambit and Uncanny X-Force) The name of the story is Reporter's Notebook. I guess we'll have to open up this issue to figure out what it contains.

Does the notebook of Legends #60 hold many exciting secrets or is it nothing more interesting than a reporter's forgotten grocery list?

In this issue, Bruce Wayne allows a reporter to do an, "A Day in the Life..." profile on him." 

The Story Concluded

First things first, this is indeed a continuation of Hannah's past stories, and it is also, from all appearances, the conclusion.  

Hannah has an odd style. He wrote each of his three pieces as if they were mostly separate stories, and you get no idea the point of any of them until you are nearly half way through reading them. This one spends the entire first half of the issue with Bruce Wayne showing a reporter how incredibly predictable his life is, but at the halfway point, we learn something more is at play.  

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I like this story, yet I have a hard time pinpointing why. There is no twist or great surprise. We do not learn a lot about any of the main characters save perhaps Batman. The art is a little sub par with the face rendeirng, and there are certainly no memorable fight scenes, yet it's still a good read. Why? Well, I think the success is in the focus on Bruce Wayne, a character we often do not see. At the same time Bruce is blocking the reporter from knowing his true self, we, as readers, get to see a little more of him. We see how he is carefully calculating how to best distract the reporter from seeing his true self, yet the reporter sees through the smokescreen because at one point he tells Bruce that he's either the happiest or most miserable man in the world, and the reporter can't figure out which. It's a sad yet accurate summary of Bruce Wayne. We also learn of the struggle Bruce has undergone privately and has never shared. I'm not going to pretend that these sorts of stories have never been done, but it is still a decent insight into Bruce Wayne.

Conclusion 9/10

We don't learn much about the villain, and really, we don't need to know much about him. He's a monster like a thousand others who came before. We do learn a little about Bruce, and we see him at his work. It's a straightforward story that rewards you for traveling the path. If you want a big spectacle, this issue isn't for you, but if you want to see Batman go back to basics while revealing a little of himself to readers, this is a nice piece of work.

Recent Reviews: 

Batman '66 #1 - #3 - The Riddler's Ruse

 Batman Beyond #27 - #29 - Batgirl Beyond

Batman  '66 #4 - #5 - Emperor Penguin

Batman '66 #6 - Chandell's Chanteuse

Batman Beyond #24 - #26 - Undercloud

Legends of the Dark Knight #56 - #58 - The Beautiful Ugly

Legends of the Dark Knight  #59 - Arm Candy

Legends of the Dark Knight #60 - Reporter's Notebook

Legends of the Dark Knight #61 - #62 - Break the Mold

Li'l Gotham #14 - Independence Day

Li'l Gotahm #15 - Gotham Comiccon!

Detective Comics #23 - Bat and Mouse

Batwing #23 - Smash

BatWatch Review - Legends of the Dark Knight #59: Arm Candy

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Arm Candy

A Batman story called Arm Candy. That's a bit odd. I haven't heard anything about this one, so my best guess is perhaps it centers around one of Bruce Wayne's always present floozies. Maybe? I don't know.

The story is a one shot brought to us by writer Frank Hannah.  (current writer of Legends of the Dark Knight, Superman and Action Comics) Hannah wrote a story for Legends a couple months ago called The Pain Cellar, and is was pretty interesting focusing on a time of loss for Bruce Wayne as a young child as his friend was apparently kidnapped and murderered, but it lacked a real ending. Basically, the conclusion was that Bruce remembered the incident and promised to avenge it, but no avenging was ever done. Frank Hannah later assured me via Twitter that the story would be continued. Could this issue be the next chapter of that story? If so, then he's brought a new art team on board led by Drew Johnson. (former penciler of Wonder Woman and current artist for Legends of the Dark Knight and cover artist for Injustice)

Does Legends #59 prove to be a sweet and tasty bit of fun or a giant mass of tooth decay? 

In this issue, Bruce finds a link to his past when his girlfriend is murdered. 

Picking Up the Pieces

This issue does indeed continue the story from the Pain Cellar, and it takes the story in an unexpecteded direction.

First up, we get a fresh look at how Batman uses women as his disguise to keep up the image of playboy Bruce Wayne, and he hates himself for it. We see that Bruce wants to connect and have a real relationship, but as usual, the Shadow of the Bat interferes and keeps him from happiness. There is a powerful scene where we see how Bruce plays the part of a the doting boyfriend just for the opportunity to experience, even insincerely, what it means to be in a real relationship. This story did depict Batman as someone who has sex with his arm candy just to keep up the appearance of being the spoiled rich kid, and in my head, Batman would not do that, but this is certainly an acceptable interpretation of the character especially in a non-cannon book.  

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(Spoilers until Conclusion) The real heart of the issue opens up when Bruce discovers that the murderer is his childhood friend that was kidnapped. I will admit that I found this a bit strange since I was left with the impression from the last issue that the kid, Marco, had been killed, but apparently, he lived and decided to become a scum bucket because of all the crap that happened to him. I was left confused as to whether Marco had been living in secret this whole time or whether he was eventually found and had been, supposedly, living a normal life. I don't really mind the ambiguity on this point, but the idea that someone turns to evil just because they experienced evil is tired. Luckily, this is not completely straight forward in that he claims that his kidnapper taught him these things. It would be interesting to see a monster who trains other monsters against their will, and based on the way this issue continuedded from a previous story, I suspect we will be seeing the big bad before long.

Still, the ending felt a bit rushed. We didn't get any real idea of what motivated Marco, and Bruce Wayne decided to uncover the mystery without putting on the Bat suit. Taking down a multitude of thugs as Bruce Wayne is more than a little suspicious. He could have at least used enough face makeup to obscure his identity from the casual observer.

Conclusion 8/10

Again, another really interesting story from Frank Hannah, but it still felt like it needed a little more time on the back end. Nonetheless, I'm eager to see the story completed. 

Recent Reviews: 

Batman '66 #1 - #3 - The Riddler's Ruse

 Batman Beyond #27 - #29 - Batgirl Beyond

Batman  '66 #4 - #5 - Emperor Penguin

Batman '66 #6 - Chandell's Chanteuse

Batman Beyond #24 - #26 - Undercloud

Legends of the Dark Knight #56 - #58 - The Beautiful Ugly

Legends of the Dark Knight  #59 - Arm Candy

Legends of the Dark Knight #60 - Reporter's Notebook

Legends of the Dark Knight #61 - #62 - Break the Mold

Li'l Gotham #14 - Independence Day

Li'l Gotahm #15 - Gotham Comiccon!

Detective Comics #23 - Bat and Mouse

Batwing #23 - Smash

BatWatch Review - Legends of the Dark Knight #56 -#58: The Beautiful Ugly

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The Beautiful Ugly

I've heard of this arc. It has something to do with Two-Face taking on a criminal who escaped justice back when Harvey Dent was District Attorney.  It's not a bad concept and Two-Face is one of my favorite villains. However, people present Two-Face in different ways. I like to see Two-Face as a man torn between his two natures, and while he is often portrayed that way, he is also often portrayed simply as a guy who has an obsession with the number two. It's all in the execution, and I guess we will just have to see how this one plays out. The story is written by Derek Fridolfs (former writer for Arkham Unhinged and Arkham City Digital Chapters and inker for Streets of Gotham, Detective Comics, and Superman/Batman and current writer for Li'l Gotham) and first time comic writer Kenneth Elliot Jones, and it is drawn by Jason Shawn Alexander. (former artist for End Game and Sirus' Empty Zone and current artist for Legends of the Dark Knight and cover artist of Dark Horse's House of Gold and Bones and Dynamite's The Shadow)

Is this a great story about a good man with a dark side or a story that takes a simple gimmick two far.  

In this story, Two-Face returns to deliver justice to a man he could not convict as District Attorney.   

Righteous Judgment

The strongest element of this arc is definitely the art. Just take a look at that cover by Jason Shawn Alexander, and you'll get a little bit of the idea of what you can expect from the interiors. It's dark, creepy, gritty, and it really sets the mood for the entire story. One neat trick is that when the story went into a flashback, Alexander changed his art style and gave it more of an ink dot effect like old school comics were printed several decades ago. I've seen this trick before, but what made this one stand out was that it was only used in moderation often coloring the background while the foreground was colored more traditionally. I suppose colorist Sherard Jackson (former writer of Antartic's Assembly) actually deserves more of the credit for that particular trick.  

The story at first shows a ton of promise starting with an ordinary yet awful day in Gotham and how that day affects the citizens which eventually leads to a reveal that Two-Face has come to ruin one couple's lives. This in and of itself was an odd reveal since Two-Face was in shadows for several pages, yet his face is on the cover, so it was hardly a surprise that he is the big bad.  

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As the story moves on, we see that Harvey Dent is trying the guy in the couple, Aiden, for a crime he committed many years past, and at first, it seems like a cool idea, but if falls apart the further into the story we go. For one thing, this is billed as a Two-Face story, but it has nothing to do with Two-Face. Two-Face is just a tool to tell the story of this couple, yet the writers seem to cling to the idea that Two-Face is important in and of himself, and he's not nor is he particularly acting in character, so parts of the story just feel forced. (Spoilers) More importantly, the story just refuses to answer any of your burning questions by the end and only raises new ones. Aiden never really explains himself or tries to defend himself, and we never find out if he's truly guilty. The jury is supposedly made up of Aiden's victims, but that could mean a lot of things, and I actually have a little bit of a hard time believing this jury could be so easily assembled and willing to murder without any proof of Aiden's guilt. Speaking of which, we never actually see what happens to Aiden which should have been the climax of the story. I'm not saying I want to see him torn apart, but there are plenty of ways it could have been suggested without actually showing. Finally, the story ends with Two-Face and Batman making these big grandiose statements at one another, and it just feels off.

Conclusion 6/10

I didn't enjoy the end of the story, but the issue had a good build up, and despite my dislike of the ending, I'm sure it will stick with me for a little bit and give me something to consider, so I'll say this is worth reading if you have the money to spare, but don't go out of your way for this one if you are trying to spend money carefully.

BatWatch Review: Legends of the Dark Knight #53 - 55

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Riddler in the Dark

Once more, we turn our attention to Legends. I'm pretty excited about this arc because I read an interview with the writer, Charles Soule,  (former writer of Arcahia's Strange Attractors and current writer of Swamp Thing and Thunderbolts) and the premise sounds cool. Riddler was my favorite villain from Batman: The Animated Series, but sadly, he often does not get used properly for regular comic issues. Perhaps Soule along with his artistic cohort Dennis Calero (former artist of X-Factor) can weave a good yarn for the Emerald Enigma.

Is this a fresh take on a classic Batman rogue or just another quick cash in on the dude with a green suit?  

In this issue, Riddler turns himself into custody forcing Batman to deduce his motive.   

Riddle Me This: Where Can You Find a Good Riddler Story?

Look no further than this issue. However, tthere is a caveat to that statement. Riddler is the central villain of this piece, but he's not really in the forefront. He sets things in motion and then watches Batman run the gauntlet from the sidelines. However, he does not do this in the way you might expect.

After Joker, Loki, and whoever that Bond villain was from Skyfall all pulled the same trick in the last several years of cinema, I half expected Riddler to do a Heath Ledger inspired attack on GCPD from within. However, things are a lot more complicated than that as they well should be in a Riddler story, and unlike some Riddler stories, this one actually tracks from start to finish. You can crack this case right alongside Batman if you have a good head on your shoulders and feel inclined to put in the effort.

The artwork is pretty sharp though there is nothing mind boggling. I was really surprised to see question marks on Riddler's face adorning him almost like a mask, and I was even more surprised to find that I actually enjoyed the design.  

The only down side of the issue is that the middle section has some action which is just typical Batman stuff. It's not bad in any way, so it's probably not even fair to call it a down side, but over the past year, I've read so much Batman that I'm actually tired of the fight scenes unless they are exceptional.  

Conclusion 9/10

I don't want to lift this up with too high of praise. I don't think this will go down as a definitive Riddler story, but if you want a strong Riddler story which will make you put on your thinking cap and reward you well for the journey, this is definitely a good purchase.  

Recent Reviews:

Legends of the Dark Knight #52: Gotham Eye View

Legends of the Dark Knight #53 - #55: Riddler in the Dark

Li'l Gotham #12: Father's Day Fun

Li'l Gotham #13: Minakuzi 

Batman, Incorporated #13 

Batman Annual #2 

Detective Comics Annual #2

BatWatch Review: Legends of the Dark Knight #52

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Gotham Eye View

I knew I had been behind for a long time. Now I finally have an actual date on how far behind I was on BatWatch. The last comic that was due for review but did not get reviewed was this one right here which was released on May 30th. That's right, I was over two months behind in digital reviews. That sucks. 

However, I'm genuinely excited to be back. Reviewing the regular Batman comics is fun...but at the same time, it becomes a bit of a drudgery. Keeping up on every bit of Bat news can have its negative effects by spoiling large parts of the story, and even when the story remains a mystery, it's still a very long wait, followed by about twenty minutes of what is hopefully a fun reading experience followed by a somewhat tedious and moderately rewarding review process and another month long wait for the next chapter. I'm delighted that I don't have any of that going on with today's reviews. The stories are short and complete, and I have almost no idea what to expect. Frankly, that's exactly how I want it.

Given how far behind I am, I'm going to be doing very brief reviews, and the further back we go in overdue reviews, the more rushed they will be. Hopefully, they will still be fun to read.  

This issue is called Gotham Eye View. I have no idea what that means, and I'm happy for that fact. Robert Jeschonek (former writer of Justice Society of America 80-Page Giant) handled the writing and Declan Shalvey (former artist for Boom's 28 Days Later and current cover artist of Venom) is leading the art team.

Is Legends #52 the apple of Gotham's eye or just another grim gutter in a washed out city?

In this issue, Gotham tells the story of itself focusing on a battle between Batman and a new villain, Crescendo.  

Making Things Difficult

Well, this is a hard one to sum up quickly.  

On one level, this is a pretty typical Batman story where he faces a new foe. It's got a little heart in it, but it's nothing unusual. However, this issue has a gimmick. Gotham talks to the readers and discusses her friend, the Batman, and through the lens of the city, we get a new way of looking at things.  

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Gotham is like a loving captive who unwillingly finds itself killing those it loves due to powers beyond its control. It's as if the city has sentience but only the most indirect of abilities to interact with the world. Seeing the city from Gotham's perspective does lead to some interesting views into the relationship between Batman and Gotham, but the problem is that Gotham describing itself as a person is a laughable concept. At times in the story, it works and you feel the kinship between Bruce and Gotham, and at other points, it seems as if Batman is Gotham's lover and you realize that this whole idea is just plain silly.

Redeeming the questionable nature of the story is the high caliber art. At first glance, I was not sure about Shalvey's work, but his style actually does a lot to sell the piece. Matt Wilson (current artist for Young Avengers and colorist for Wonder Woman) also does a great job with the coloring doing a lot to add mood without ever detracting from the story.

Conclusion 7/10

It's something you will want if you are a big fan of either artist or you have money to spare. The story is okay, but it has some off moments that keep it from being worth the buy on story alone.  

Recent Reviews:

Legends of the Dark Knight #52: Gotham Eye View

Legends of the Dark Knight #53 - #55: Riddler in the Dark

Li'l Gotham #12: Father's Day Fun

Li'l Gotham #13: Minakuzi 

Batman, Incorporated #13 

Batman Annual #2 

Detective Comics Annual #2

Legends of the Dark Knight #51

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The Pain Cellar

Well, this week's title sounds creepy. This story is brought to us by comic newbie Frank Hannah (current writer of Legends of the Dark Knight and Action Comics) and Marco Turini. (current artist for Legends of the Dark Knight and Top Cow's Artifacts and current writer of 3ntini Editore's Selen)

Is Legends 51 a deep and dark yet delightful story or is this a dungeon you'll want to quickly escape?

In this issue, Bruce has an old memory that is haunting him in the present, and he must exercise his demons to get healing.

An Interesting Prelude, But...

I'm going to be super brief since I'm so busy, but basically this serves as a really interesting intro to a story, but just when it feels like it is going somewhere, it's over. It's not bad for what it is. In fact, it's really good, but it leaves you with a “To be continued...” feeling when there is no continuation that will ever likely take place.

The story dives into Bruce's past and dregs up an old memory which is an interesting concept. The whole story is actually full of interesting concepts. There is a shout out to Richard Dragon. The old medicine healer seems interesting as does her practice. The art is well done and stylized in a way we do not often see. The end is chilling. The story has almost no flaws, but it doesn't have a conclusion, and that damages it.

The one other flaw that is present is Bruce is unrealistically mobile in his flashbacks for such a young and innocent child.

Screenshot from 2013-06-02 21:28:21.png

Conclusion 8/10

What's there is good, but it needs a sequel to be truly satisfying.

More Recent Reviews:

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Legends of the Dark Knight #49 - #50

Batman Beyond #22 - #23

Li'l Gotham #11

BatWatch Review: Legends #49 - #50

Screenshot from 2013-06-02 19:23:22.png

Dr. Quinn's Diagnosis

I finally get to see JimZub's (former writer of Skullkickers and current writer of The Mighty Skullkickers and Dynamite's Pathfinder)work on Batman. I first heard about JimZub when it was announced he would be taking the reigns of Birds of Prey, but that fell through as DC decided to screw him over at the last minute and give the title to Christy Marx.(current writer of Birds of Prey and Sword of Sorcery) However, DC appears to have offered Legends as a consolation prize, (JimZub contacted me and told me this was actually already written before Birds of Prey fell through) and who wouldn't enjoy that? JimZub seems set to make the most of his first but hopefully not last shot at Batman glory by bringing a character to the forefront who has not yet been seen in the DCNU, Harley Quinn. (yeah, I know about Suicide Squad, and I didn't misspeak. This is the real Harley Quinn) With Neil Googe (former penciler of Wildstorm's Majestic and current artist on Legends of the Dark Knight and Dark Riders) handling the art, this story looks quite promising.

Has the good doctor written a prescription for success or is Legends in the care of Doctor Mengele?

In this issue, Batman must outwit Harley Quinn or Joker will unleash a sea of terror on Gotham.

This Was Fun

Plain and simple, this was just a fun story. At first, I felt like the arc might be a bit hollow with nearly half of the story consisting of an extended fight scene. However, what this story lacked in substance on the front half it made up for in back half. Also, the fight itself was very well choreographed and rendered, and Harley Quinn's constant quips and ever shifting personality is nearly inhumanly cute and beyond my powers to resist.

The story becomes a battle of wits between The Dark Knight and Harlequin. Miss Quinzel uses her psychoanalytic skills on Batman, and through the following back and forth, JimZub manages to explore several aspects of the deeper natures of Batman and Harley Quinn.

Bat Droppings

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1. I really need to learn more about art so I can better praise good work when I see it. To keep it short, this issue looked really nice. The fight scene was great and used some neat panel framing tricks which I could try to describe, but I would probably only muddy my meaning in the attempt. However, it was cool. The only thing that struck me as a little odd was that Bats was drawn without a visor in the eye holes of his cowl, and though I do not mind this, it was a little odd each time the artist did a closeup for from a distance Batman looks like his regular self, but when close up, you could see that it was bare eyes instead of visors.

2. Bats really should not reveal anything about his past to Dr. Quinn.

Conclusion 9/10

This issue was a blast. If you are a fan of Batman or Harley Quinn, this is a must read.

Want More?

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Legends of the Dark Knight #51

BatWatch Review: Legends of the Dark Knight #48

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Unlucky Thirteen

I've heard bad things about this issue. It's a simple one shot written by Tim Seeley (former writer of Devil's Due's Hack and Slash: The Series and current writer of Legends of the Dark Knight, IDW's Neverwinter Tales and G.I. Joe/Transformers, Top Cow's Witchblade and Image's Revival) with art by Freddie E. Williams II. (former artist of Robin and current artist for Legends of the Dark Knight, The Movement and Dark Horse's Dark Horse Presents) I do not even recall the criticisms I've heard on this issue, but I know I heard bad reviews. I wish I didn't have that tainting my judgment, but it's too late now. I know Williams II from his work on Robin which I quite enjoyed, but I don't think I've ever come across Seeley though I have heard of him. With nothing other than the title, Unlucky Thirteen, it's hard to know what to expect from this issue.

Is this a lucky day for fans of Legends of the Dark Knight or has Legends luck completely run out?

In this issue, Batman comes across a punk with bad luck who goes by the street name Thirteen.

Fun Times

Since I'm running way behind, I'll keep it very short and sweet. I thought the criticism for this issue was misplaced. This issue was a lot of fun.

Screenshot from 2013-05-20 18:03:49.png

I suppose I can see how someone who wanted a serious take on Batman might be disappointed, but as long as you are willing to share in a more light hearted narrative, I don't see any reason not to enjoy yourself with this one. Thirteen is a lovable loser who partners with the Dark Knight for his own protection, and in the ensuing chaos, we get a little discussion about the philosophy of luck. It's a fun story, pure and simple.

Bat Droppings

1. It was nice to see Freddie E. Williams at work again. It took me a few seconds, but pretty soon I was getting a nostalgic buzz as I recalled his work on Robin.

(Spoilers until Conclusion)

2. The story was not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. For instance, a metahuman named Polar Joe was in the story, and his odd appearance felt like it needed to be addressed. Also, Batman immediately deduces what happened when Thirteen begins blowing gas out his mouth. I can see Bruce figuring that out quickly, but that was a little too quick.

Conclusion 8/10

As long as you are in the mood for something kind of funny and off beat, then you'll enjoy this issue.

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Legends of the Dark Knight #45 - #47

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Without Sin

I've noticed a lot of people searching the Legends of the Dark Knight review page, and it occurs to me that people might be looking for a review of “Legends of the Dark Knight: Jim Aparo Volume 2” the recent trade that came out collecting many of the old The Brave and the Bold issues. I have not read this, and I'm afraid I'm swamped with other reviews, but it just so happens that I've read a couple of these individual issues. Specifically, I read the issue where Batman teamed up with Plastic Man and Metamorpho and the issue where he teamed up with Hawkman. I can tell you that this generation of Brave and the Bold was great fun, and if you like Silver Age Batman, you will definitely love this collection. However, the price seems a bit much. Fifty bucks for about twenty-five issues that are nearly forty years old? It's not the best deal in the world. Still, if you are a big fan of this type of story, it might be worth the price.

Now on to regularly scheduled programing.

Legends is always a surprise bringing something new each week...except for these six weeks which have oddly been set apart for one, by Legends standards, incredibly long story arc. This six parter started off well in the first half by bringing Batman into an area he rarely visits, the world of religion. In the first three parts of Without Sin, a priest is murdered and Two-Face is blamed, yet Harvey Dent claims to be trying to turn over a new leaf at least until his rage at being falsely accused sends him back over the edge. The priesthood seems to have its own share of secrets. One priest is willing and capable of throwing down in the dirtiest of bar room brawls, and it is not yet clear if this jaded priest is an ally or opponent of the truth though he appears to be loyal to the Bat. At the same time, a horde of other members of the cloth are torn between loyalties to God, the church, and justice. Christians are rarely painted with any depth in comics, and church politics are almost never explored, so this arc holds great promise.

Does Without Sin manage to seamlessly blend religious drama, investigative procedural, and superhero vigilantism into one satisfying package or is this issue an unholy mess?

In these issues, Batman takes on Two-Face, but Batman's meddling might have made things worse.

Batman Goes to Church

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I really enjoyed this issue, and a large part of my enjoyment came simply from the fact that it showcased Batman interacting with religion without religion being a big fraud as it is often portrayed in comics. It's not as if Bruce became a Christian at the end of the story, but it's nice just to see some depth of character to the priesthood. I'm on shaky ground with God at the moment, and I grew up a fundamental Baptist which is probably about as far away from Catholicism as you can be while still calling yourself Christian, so it's not like this issue was pandering to me, but what makes Legends so appealing is that we are able to see Batman in new ways, and though this is not exactly a game changer for Bruce, it does put him in a context rarely visited in a meaningful way in comics.

It was also nice to see Bruce screw something up, and that worked nicely into the issues theme of imperfection and forgiveness. Personally, I get tired of seeing the Batgod, and it was interesting to see Bruce humble himself and admit he is flawed. Granted, Alfred is basically Bruce's priest and spiritual advisor, so he does not really need a man of the cloth, but as a passing story, this was fun.

Plodding Procedural?

My only real complaint with the first half of this arc was that it's pacing was a bit slow for a superhero comic. There was definitely some action in the mix, but compared to the usual rush from fight to interrogation to revelation, the more meandering investigation laid out the facts at a slightly more plodding pace that left things feeling a bit slow. For the die hard mystery fans, it was probably all necessary, but for me, it was a bit much.

The second half of Without Sin does not suffer with the pacing issue. Things are a tad more focused on investigation than the average Bat comic, but the information comes quickly enough to leave the reader satisfied, and a brief flurry of action is never too far away.

The Spirit and the Flesh

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Two-Face is represented well in this story though you have to let go to continuity to truly enjoy it. Bruce tries some tricks in this issue that have worked many times in previous Two-Face stories, yet they nearly send Two-Face into even greater psychosis here. The idea behind Two-Face's dual nature and the role of the coin are also tweaked to fit the needs of the story, but I'm all about seeing new takes on the mythos in a non-cannon series.

Bat Droppings

1. There were a bit too many suspects for this investigation to really be satisfying to me on a mystery level. Perhaps big mystery fans will be able to keep track, but personally, I need more development time for suspects to stand out in my brain.

2. I've often wondered how Batman's rope batarangs always perfectly lock on themselves. I wonder if this is something that could actually be done consistently in real life or if it is just comic book nonsense.

3. The cathedral in this issue is called St. Dismas. St. Dismas is the Catholic name for the repentant thief who Christ pardoned on the cross. Again, the idea of repentance and forgiveness is sewn into the plot, and the good thief also plays in to Two-Face's role in this story considering he did some good with stolen goods in this issue.

Screenshot from 2013-04-30 22:29:21.png

4. People, both Christians and non-Christians, seem to think that the Bible teaches against killing when nothing could be further from the truth. Old Testament law actually endorsed the death penalty and killing in self-defense. Heck, the Old Testament endorsed killing for adultery and a host of other sins that almost nobody would now think worthy of death these days. God specifically ordered the Israelites to kill other people. King David, the man after God's own heart, was a notorious killer. Jesus never said anything specifically about killing, but he was hardly a pacifist taking up whips to drive out money changers from the temple, and the Apostle Paul wrote that the government, “does not bear the sword in vain” which many construe as a New Testament endorsement of the death penalty. Anyway, sermon over. That's the old youth pastor coming out in me.

5. The art may not be for everybody. There are definitely some questionable panels, but for me, they were good enough to carry the story, and at times they were even quite striking.

Spoilers until Conclusion

6. The final conflict of this arc is way more convoluted and drawn out than it needed to be. Batman should have been able to stop Two-Face at almost any time, and yet he draws out the conflict and risks lives and for what? Flair? Suspense? It was a rather transparent, if still effective, way to create more tension in the final scene.

Conclusion 8/10

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This whole arc was really good from a, “Let's see something new,” perspective, but at the same time, there is nothing that really pushes it up to the level of amazing. Still, it's a safe purchase for any fans of the series or anybody who finds the premise of this arc intriguing. People who have been longing for a more positive treatment of the church in comics should be thrilled.

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Legends of the Dark Knight #42 - #44

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Without Sin

I love some good quality Legends of the Dark Knight, but this one has thrown me for a loop before I even read a page. This story spans six issues? I thought the whole point of Legends was to tell brief stories about Batman? This story may be good, but I feel this is kind of missing the whole point of the series. Dan Mishkin (former writer of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons and current writer of Legends of the Dark Knight) and Tom Mandrake (former artist for Batman and The Spectere and current artist of Legends of the Dark Knight) deliver this tale. Do these two use their extra long story to tell an amazing in depth tale or was this arc too long by the first page?

In this issue, a priest is murdered and Two-Face is the prime suspect, but Batman is on the case.

Batman Finds Religion

Batman does not find Jesus in this story, or at least he has not thus far, but it's interesting to see an actual in depth look at a religious institution in comics. Usually, comics tend to breeze right by anything religious. They might have a brief reference to God or a cross, but the philosophy and politics of various religious institutions are almost never visited. The murder of the priest and interlocking mysteries of the church, however, gives a perfect opportunity to explore this.

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It's no secret that comics often give religious people a bad rap in comics. Even Gail Simone, an atheist, has said they are characterized poorly, so I've been watching this story with a cynical eye for any negative religious stereotypes, but thus far, it's been all good. The particular church in question is Catholic, and there seems to be a good mix of different characters none of which are flat or caricatures. One of the priests will probably be revealed to be a murderer just because the Two-Face angle is so obvious, (more on that later) but I don't mind as long as the priesthood is treated like a group of actual people and not generic douches with collars.

Batman: Law and Order

I am enjoying the story, but it's different than most comic stories in that it has taken a rather procedural tone. Honestly, you could put a police detective in the place of Batman, and the story would still make sense with only minor tweaks. It makes the whole thing feel like a television procedural which is not necessarily a bad thing if you like procedurals, but for my money, it's a tiny bit too slow to be ideal.

Bat Droppings

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1. The first five or six pages of this arc seem different in artistic style than the rest of the pages. I actually thought it was a shift in artists at first, and I tried to see if there was a fill in a artist, but there was none, and I think I can see the similarities in art style now that I've looked at it a bit longer, but the first few pages seemed much more detailed and smooth. Regardless, the art is nice through all the issues. Mandrake is not the most detailed of artist, but his style is good in its own way, and he had a good eye for framing the panels in interesting ways. I'm quite enjoying him.

2. Apparently, cops are anti-Bat in this universe which is fine except a little clarification would be nice. One of the cool things about Legends though is how everybody gets to make their own version of the Bat mythos.

3. We are getting a little of Batman's religious philosophy in this book, and there are some good themes floating around, but I'm curious if these things will actually be resolved in any real way or if they are just passing observations.

(Spoilers until Conclusion)

4. A man of the cloth who can kick butt is always pretty cool.

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5. As soon as Harvey said, “Don't they have eyes. Can't they see it!” I saw it. Too bad they already revealed it or I could have looked super smart in predicting it, or maybe everybody saw it already and I'm the slow kid in the class.

Conclusion 8/10

It's a good Batman story though it is a little TV procedural for my tastes, but there are no significant flaws in it. If you like Batman and this sounds interesting, pick it up. If you love Batman and cop procedurals, you will probably love this issue. Oh yeah, this story is not done. I'm just reviewing the first three issues, so it's always possible it will take a huge turn for the better or worse, but at the moment, I'm really enjoying it.

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Review: Legends of the Dark Knight #41

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Tap, Tap

Well, I've let myself get a little behind on the digital first comics, so it is time for me to start getting caught up. This week features a bizarre sounding story with a recycled cover. I say it is bizarre because it is apparently a one shot starring Batman, yet the cover shows Scarecrow and the solicit claims that it features Catwoman. I suppose you could say they might have just thrown in a random cover, but the title, “Tap, Tap” reminds me of the Raven, and that sound like something that would be right up Crane's alley. Three moving parts are a lot to handle for such a short story, but perhaps it can be done. Handling the task is the writer Ray Fawkes (former writer of Vertigo's Mnemovore and Batgirl and current writer for Constantine) which some might recognize from his recently finished two-issue stint on Batgirl. Handling art is a name new to me, Stephane Roux. (former artist for Birds of Prey and Batman Confidential and current cover artist on New Avengers, Star Wars: Agent of the Empire – Hard Targets and Boom's Grace Randolph's Supurbia and Freelancers) Just having looked at several of his covers, I can say he has a nice style.

Do these two team up together for an unforgettable issue, or will readers forget this issue before they even close the last page?

In this issue, Batman tries to stop a break in at a house with some serious defense measures. To make matters worse, Catwoman is the one trying to pull off the heist.

Bat Droppings

1. Holy crap! Roux's art is amazing. I knew it looked good on his cover art, but this is even better. We need this guy to do some more work for the Bat Family.

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2. I can confirm that this issue has nothing to do with Scarecrow. Why DC did not recycle one of the many covers without a specific villain on it, I have no idea. In fact, why not use something from an older comic like from the original Legends? I'm just saying, DC, there are other options which make things more interesting for fans.

3. Page one features a demon lady and demon man...frolicking...I'm going to hope. The thing is, the location of the water spout is a bit ambiguous. I'm guessing it is kind of a baday fountain spraying up on the gir but if not, then the dripping, gushing liquid all over the lady demon is...hmmm.

4. This issue encouraged me to look up a new and interesting word, darknet. I look up new words all the time, but most of them do not fascinate me conceptually. If you do not know the term, darknet is basically, as I understand it, a private network which does not register IP addresses where you can trade information freely with little fear of being tracked.

5. I like Batman's portrayal in this. His inner monologue reflects on the fact that the house is nice which indicates that Bats does have something other than justice on his mind. He also wants to bring Catwoman to justice which is a nice change from his, “She's hot so she gets a pass,” policy that seems to be in effect in mainstream continuity.

6. The device Selina uses to reflect the beam does not make sense because by virtue of its design it would have to break the beam before the beam reached the mirror.

7. There is a light weapon mentioned in this issue that Batman recognizes, but he never identifies it. This is annoying.

Spoilers until the End

8. This version of Selina is so much better than what we see in her own title these days. She is careful and intelligent. She is charming without being slutty. She's devious yet with a smidge of goodness. This is the way the criminal Selina should be.

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9. I'm a bit fuzzy on the security camera guns. The first time we see Selina, the guns appear to be shooting at her, yet her suit is supposed to hide her from them. The system she has in place is supposed to deactivate them, yet at times it seems to activate them. I can think of possible reasons for all this, but the story should have made it clear.

Conclusion 9/10

This is one of those rare cases where, even if the plot sucked, I would still have recommended this issue because the art is just that good. It would not have been a high recommendation if it had a bad plot, but I still would have given it a nod because this Roux guy has really impressed me. Thankfully, we also get a good plot along with the amazing art. Yeah, it could use a teeny, tiny bit of ironing out, but it still gives a much better version of the relationship between Batman and Catwoman than what we have seen in the entire DCNU. If you are a Batman or Catwoman fan, this is a definite buy.

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Review: Legends of the Dark Knight #39-#40

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I Hate It when He Does That...

Again, I'm running behind on reviews, I should already be in bed, and I really want to be caught up before I get another pile of comics dumped in my “To Review” file manana, so I'm going to try to keep this brief even though I have to admit that I really suck at keeping things short. In that spirit of trying to be brief, I will be doing the review Bat Droppings style, but first, the intro.

Two weeks before Scott Snyder announced his next big Batman project looking at the early career of Batman, Joshua Williamson started this arc which focused on the same thing...in a sense. Whereas Snyder's run appears as if it will deal with an adult Bruce, this story is squarely focused on a very young Bruce either per-pubescent or right on the cusp of puberty. Last issue, Bruce was in Thailand learning various arts of combat with his trusted butler as his guide.

As cool as this sounds in concept, I was not impressed by the first issue of this three part arc. Most of my concerns came from the weird portrayal of Alfred and Bruce's relationship. Quite frankly, I just can't picture Alfred ever knowingly allowing Bruce to get into so much trouble. I also found the dialogue to be a bit stiff. Still, we never know what the following issues might hold. Does this story deliver a thrilling tale in an untold area of Bruce's life, or is it just a cluttered mess that adds nothing to the Legend of the Bat?

In this issue, Bruce and Alfred spring a rebel Thai girl from jail.

Bat Droppings

1. I do enjoy the art style. It's simple, but it works well for the story and gives it a classic look reminiscent, to me at least, of an old cartoon like Johnny Quest.

2. Does everybody in Thailand wear sunglasses because they conveniently do so in the opening scene in order to give Bruce a chance to blend in with the Asian populace?

Screenshot from 2013-03-13 20:13:53.png

3. There is an extremely odd set of dialogue that turns into inner monologue. The though conveyed through the dialogue/monologue is one continuous thought, yet at the time the dialogue begins, the knowledge conveyed in the monologues is unknown which means that the character is essentially saying what he will do in the future which could work if the character in question, Bruce, were making a plan, but he is instead describing a set of future realizations that he will make. If that was difficult to follow, please entrust that it made no more sense in the comic.

4. I do not believe that one group of fighters would ever refer to their rival as “The Freedom Fighter with the Heart of Gold” unless it was truly a sarcastic statement. If it was truly sarcastic, that essentially means that Bruce is aiding the truly bad people in this story which undercuts the entire piece. Though it is really more relevant later in the story, I suppose this is a good time to mention that Bruce never really verifies who is good and who is bad before inserting himself into foreign affairs. That makes sense for a stupid kid, but Alfred should no better.

5. It is interesting to see Bruce at this age. He is very Damian-esque at moments, but he seems like a sweeter kid with less antisocial tendencies. It's not a bad portrayal for a young Bruce.

6. Alfred goes from being very irresponsible to completely insane in letting Bruce try to a rescue attempt on this girl. What did he think would happen? Everything would go swimmingly?

Technically Spoilers Past This Point, but really, I don't think you will lose anything by reading.

7. Another awkward line as the girl runs away from a hail of gunfire with Bruce, “Best first date ever!” Really? Is that what is going through your head? I know I'm being extra cynical at the moment, but I don't think so.

8. How did the good guys get the bad guy out of the police station?

9. That bad guy would be dead if a freedom fighter's daughter had anything to say about it.

Screenshot from 2013-03-13 20:16:58.png

10. Bruce is revealed to have played Alfred towards the end of the story, and I have mixed feelings about that. On one hand, it is cool to see Bruce is already a calculator. On the other hand, this undermines the bond between Alfred and Bruce. Does grown up Bruce even lie to Alfred?

11. I do not think Alfred is such a sap.

12. I do not like Bruce's disappearing act to be a supernatural ability which it would have to be to act as shown.

Screenshot from 2013-03-13 20:19:11.png

13. The story comes back to the present at the end, and sure enough, Mekhala is the thief, but she has no real point for her actions. However, her sneaking up on Bruce was really cool.

14. The story still did not answer how Bruce disappears.

Conclusion 4/10

I cannot really find anything redeeming in this story. It had a few cool moments, and the art is pretty good if you like this kind of style, bur there were more annoying parts to the story than there were enjoyable parts. If you can turn your brain off and ignore little problems like I point out, then you are still left with a pretty generic Batman story.

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Review: Legends of the Dark Knight #38

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I Hate It when He Does That...

I greatly enjoyed the last issue of Legends, so lets see what this issue holds in store. This arc is written by Joshua Williamson, former writer of DC's Voodoo and current writer for Monkeybrain's Masks and Mobsters. I can't say that Voodoo inspires much confidence considering it was canceled before it managed much of a run, but Masks and Mobsters sounds really cool for whatever that is worth. The art is handled by Wes Craig. (former artist for the 2008 volume of Guardians of the Galaxy and the '96 volume of Nightwing) Does this team deliver on Batman greatness, or is this a massive disappointment?

In this issue, Commissioner Gordon explains a recent theft to Batman in the present, while in the past, readers are treated to a view of Bruce and Alfred on an adventure where Bruce is still but a young teenager.

Alfred Is Off

I love the concept of this issue. In fact, I love most of the happenings in this issue, but I do not like the delivery.

I love the idea of Bruce and Alfred working together as Bruce trains to become the world's best crime fighter. I believer (and I could be wrong) that generally accepted cannon says Bruce was gone most of his formative years in boarding schools overseas where he trained himself away from Alfred. This has always bugged me for I feel that Alfred needs to be a part of Bruce's life, at least during his teen years, for their father/son bond to truly be established. Having been away from Alfred all that time and then returning and letting him be Bruce's most trusted confidant does not track.

However, I do not believe that Alfred would ever let a young Bruce run over him as he does in this issue. Alfred is letting thirteen year old Bruce go wild through through the streets of Thailand. Also, Alfred seems fully informed about Bruce's intentions to become a crime fighter, and again, I don't think Alfred would have let Bruce do that.

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I know what you are thinking, Alfred allowed the Robins to do that, but that was after Batman already proved that a human superhero could work, Batman sort of adopted the Robins without Alfred's approval (in many cases. It depends on the telling) and the Robins usually knew Batman's secret, so it sort of forced Alfred's hands. Even so, Alfred was reluctant in many tellings of the stories to allow such a young person to fight crime, so do I really think Alfred is going to let his semi-trained, freshly victimized, strangely obsessed charge enter the worst hives of scum and villainy to become a crime fighter? No! No, I do not.

I know this is a different universe, and I do like different interpretations of characters, but this one does not work for me.

Sadly, I have a least one more negative of the issue. The dialogue felt off to me. I can't put my finger one why, but page one struck me as wrong. “The Moon Diamond was one of the Museum's recent additions. Not to mention valuable.” I cannot pinpoint it, but those two sentences just do not feel like they should go back to back. Here is another one. “We just did this a couple days ago. You caught me, and I escaped. Doesn't this bore you?” That just feels wrong to me. None of these lines feel like something people would actually say.

Other Thoughts

On the positive side, the art looks really great. In addition to the pencils from Craig, Lee Loughridge (former colorer for Vertigo's Hellblazer and Batman: Gotham Adventures and current colorer for Vertigo's Fables) does a great job on the colors giving the book a very distinctive feel.

Like I said, I like the concept of this issue, and other than Alfred being too lenient with Bruce, I liked all the stuff that happened in this issue. It was fun other than the dialogue.

Another positive is that we get five extra pages in this issue which is a nice bonus.

Finally, it is painfully obvious that the thief will be the girl from Thailand.

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Conclusion 6/10

I'm being generous for the sake of my general enjoyment of this series, fondness for the basic concept of this arc, and the hope that it will develop nicely. Heck, if this arc will just explain how Bruce randomly disappears as the title kind of implies it will, then that would be worth a couple of points right there. However, the dialogue really hurts this issue, and I feel this is a poor portrayal of Alfred, so I can only suggest this issue for those who are big Legends fans and are not pinching pennies. Oh, and to be clear, this is just the first issue of a three parter, so you might want to wait until the final issue is in.

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Legends of the Dark Knight #37


Legends of the Dark Knight #38

Review: Legends of the Dark Knight #37

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Return of the Batman...

I've been really enjoying this story arc of Legends of the Dark Knight. It has explored the role that technology plays in Batman's life and the way Bruce has come to rely too much on his toys. Now that Wayne Industries has started hurting on its bottom line, Batman's arsenal is depleted, and Bruce now has to stop Ra's without the benefits of his tech. Unfortunately, something went wrong with the production of this story arc, and the final issue was delayed for an entire week, so I am just now getting to read the conclusion. Honestly, I remember the basic events of the story, but I forget where in the story we were. I keep picturing Batman downed by some attackers and appearing on the cusp of a beating, but I'm not sure that is correct. (it was not) Regardless, it is the moment of truth for this story. Will Batman finish strong, or will he be an ugly, battered mess by the end?

In this issue, Ra's Al Ghul is planning on releasing a chemical attack and Batman must stop him.

Finish Strong!

I do not have a whole lot to say about the substance of this issue. If you read everything up to this point, then you know the direction in which the narrative was flowing, and the story basically just finished strong. I suppose I'll offer a few thoughts Bat Dropping Style.

Bat Droppings

1. The police officer on page 1 either has a very long body or he is wearing his pants ghetto style.

2. Commissioner Gordon mentions that the toxin does more damage if it can bond with carbon monoxide and that is why Ra's released the toxin indoors, but carbon monoxide is not more present indoors, so this made me wonder if the author was mixing up monoxide with dioxide, but the rest of the story fit the monoxide theory, so I'm not sure what to make of this.

3. It's nice to see Bruce come back to basics on the detective front.

4. Do cities like New York really have specific daily predictions on where smog will be thickest? Perhaps they do, but that seems odd to me. I mean, you have to go where you have to go, so what good would this information do?

5. The parrot seems out of place. I let it pass in previous issues, but it keeps talking intelligently which means it is either sentient or just happens to repeat random phrases at just the right moment. Either way, it's kind of campy, and I'm willing to let it slide a little because this is a different universe and I want to see different versions of the Batman verse, but still, this is a questionable call.

6. The end of page seventeen has an interesting observation about Batman.

7. There was a nice final note for the story.

Warning! Brief Political Diatribe

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Ra's and the guy he had tied up hit a political nerve with me, so I'm going to explore it. Ra's is planning on killing humanity for destroying the planet as usual, and the guy tied up says, “Carbon monoxide is an unpleasant byproduct of progress.” Thank you! I have no idea if this writer actually has sense on environmental issues,(the fact that the character is later killed off makes me think perhaps not) but at least he included a reasonable thought in this issue. Is carbon monoxide a bad thing? Yeah, its poisonous, but holy crap, look at everything we get in exchange for it! You realize that before we learned how to harness fossil fuels, the entire human race was dropping like flies? Without all that fossil fuels bring us, we could not have clean reliable sources of water, easily accessible food, indoor plumbing, electric light, any sort of significant medical knowledge or technology, reasonable means of transportation, entertainment, nice clothes, the music industry, radio, computers, cars, the internet, air conditioning, electricity, and the list goes on and on! Everything we have today is based on fossil fuel technology. If you want to get rid of that, then realize you are talking about going back to the 1800's.

What about Green technology, you say? Great thought. The issue is that green technology is not yet developed. If the tech was developed, we would all be driving electric cars and using solar panels, but the technology is currently unsustainable. The Obama administration has funneled billions of dollars to green energy companies who have since gone under even with those handouts because their technology sucks!

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We will develop emission free energy sources one day, but let it be done in the same way we have had all our current progress, through the free market. When a better technology is established, we will go to it automatically because it is superior. Stop trying to steer us towards technology which is not yet sustainable, government by spending money that the nation does not have. Until science does manage to wrangle up this new tech, I will gladly, happily, elatedly take air which is slightly tainted in exchange for every life saving, society building, people uplifting advance we have gained in the last two hundred years.

Finally, to Ra's and the very real, very evil people like him who believe the planet it overcrowded and needs to be saved from the scourge of humanity, I only ask that you start with you vision of progress by being mentally consistent with your ambitions. If the Earth can really be saved by eliminating people, then please start by killing yourself.

Conclusion 9/10

This was a really good story, and my few nitpicks notwithstanding, I liked it a lot. It even stimulated some real world thought from me, and it is always nice when comics are able to speak to the world beyond the fiction universe. I think your purchase of this arc would be money very well spent.

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Legends of the Dark Knight #37


Legends of the Dark Knight #38

Review: Legends of the Dark Knight #35-36

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Return of Batman

For only the second time since starting BatWatch, I've managed to get over a week behind on reviews. I'm sorry about that. I had an illness that took me out of commission for most of this week, so I was unable to get caught up.

Honestly, I don't remember in the slightest what was going on in the last issue, so let me read my own review on it real quick to get caught up. It seems I generally liked it. Oh wait, it's come to me without having to look it up.

Last week, we had the first story of a four part arc which appears as if it will be focused on the threats of Ra's Al Ghul and Batman's own decaying technology. I thought that was a pretty cool idea. Bruce always has all this fancy tech which was taken to an extreme in the last issue, but due to Wayne Enterprises' hard fiscal times, Bruce was skimping out on the maintaining his gear, and that cost him when equipment failure (if I am remembering correctly) caused him to crash his latest transport. Now, suffering potentially serious injuries and broken tech, Bruce will presumably have to take on Ra's.

In this issue, Batman learns that he no longer has what it takes to wage his war on crime without all his fancy toys.

Well, This Is Gratifying

I guess it would be presumptuous of me to say I know exactly what writer Peter Milligan is thinking by writing this story, so I'll refrain from making that claim, but I can say that it seems as if his feelings mirror my own regarding Batman's recent reliance on technology. I hate how Snyder's Batman, fun though it is, frequently has exactly the right tool in his utility belt for every occasion. Prep and tech is certainly a part of the Batman mythos, but when you run into a lava monster and just so happen to have a lava monster cooling gel in your left pocket, that's a bit too convenient. Now that might sound ridiculous, but Batman was shown just in his latest issue to have the perfect water absorbing pellets to thwart a Joker deathtrap that he could not have possibly have predicted. Also, when Batman got backed into a corner by talons during the Night of the Owls, Bruce strapped on a super mega Iron Man Megazord to kick their tails. At least that case makes sense since Bruce was in the cave where he had access to most of his tech, but it still means that Bruce the man could not win. Bruce the guy with billions of dollars to spend won.

Other Batman writers are guilty of the same thing, and it undermines the lore of Batman in my view. Bruce can have toys, but the focus should be on the man, and sometimes, I think that gets lost.

This arc is very much focused on that issue. In this alternate reality, (and I'm grateful Legends is finally taking advantage of its non-cannon status) Bruce is no longer a warrior but a technician. He has a gallery of toys to save the day, and without them, he feels useless. It's a very cool idea which is explored well in this issue, and there is something poetic about the way Bruce's search for perfection led him to be more vulnerable than ever.

Also in this arc, there is a little manic depressive streak we briefly see which sadly cannot get enough development based on the short nature of the story. Still, it's nice to see a different take on Bruce.

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We All Got Problems

There were a few problems with this issue. First up, there is an action scene at the beginning of issue 35 which is not well conveyed. The actions themselves are okay, but the movement of characters in the room is not clear. Ra's is immediately upon Bats, yet I don't recall him being in Bruce's immediate vicinity at the end of the last issue. That could be explained as a time lapse, but then in the middle of this fight, another thug pops up from nowhere. Then, Bruce appears to get the upper hand, but Ra's is talking about letting Batman escape which makes no sense until you realize that Bruce apparently used his moment of advantage to hide or retreat. That's fine from a scripting standpoint, but it wasn't made clear in the panels. Then Bruce appears to be switching between standing and laying on the ground between panels. Its very awkward, and I think part of the confusion was that there was not any background through much of this scene. Perhaps background would have made people's movements in through this scene clear.

The art is something I can take or leave in this book. It's not bad, and I can see how many might like it, but it doesn't always sit right with me. In particular, there is one panel where Alfred squints with one eye which looks a little too exaggerated for my taste. However, it's not bad; it's just a style of which I'm not overly keen.

The dialogue also feels off at times, and at first I thought this was a problem, but then I remembered that we are seeing a different universe since the main universe Batman, though still over reliant on technology, is still well, well capable of taking care of himself. In fact, his fighting abilities are really too developed, but that's a different discussion. Anyway, its fair game to give characters a slightly different vernacular and dynamic when dealing with a tweaked universe.

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Outside of Comics

I think another reason I enjoyed this issue was that it made me think a lot about problems our nation faces in real life. The nation is living well. Poor people in our country have clean water, plumbing, air conditioning, televisions, (wealth unheard of a lifetime ago) and usually a car or two, video game systems, and a smart phone. (which ranks the poor of the United States well above the majority of the world) We, as a people, have it really nice.

Yet we want more, and there is nothing wrong with wanting more as long as you are willing to pay for it, but most people feel that they should have all their desires met as soon as they desire rather than having to wait, save or sacrifice to buy something even better in the future, so most people charge the payment to the future. They get a loan, a cash advance or even a credit card to buy those things that they cannot afford. Then when hard times come, they fall on their face broke or look for somebody else to bail them out of trouble, or at best, they end up paying for it down the road depriving them selves of future larger benefits for current smaller benefit.

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To make matters worse, many people think that the government exists to fulfill their desires rather than to protect their freedoms, so they want more and more “free” programs to help them with their day to day life. There are a lot of problems with that, but one of them is that the United States simply does not have the money for the programs it has already built. However, people scream, “We're in trouble. We need help!” so the government spends more money it does not have. (17 trillion plus to date) We have now spent more money as a nation than we could realistically expect to pay back in thirty years if we stopped overspending today, but just like the shortsighted people with their credit car, the country continues to go further into debt. Greece did the same thing; it spent money it did not have to provide programs for “the public good,” and now their nation is going bankrupt, yet many seem to think it cannot happen to the United States. Sure. The rules do not apply to us.

Anyway, this story reminded me of that. Bruce Wayne is trying to spend money on things that he wants. Some of it might be extravagant, but the vast majority of it is for the common good. He hears that he is in financial trouble, but he ignores Alfred and continues to spend until the breaking point comes, and then all of a sudden, he realizes he has nothing left, and he, as a person, finds out he no longer has the strength to stand without all his toys.

Conclusion 9/10

These issues have a few problems, but the strengths greatly outweigh the weaknesses for me. I greatly enjoyed it.

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Legends of the Dark Knight #35-36

Legends of the Dark Knight #34

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Return of Batman

I used to say that Legends of the Dark Knight was one of my favorite series, but then it went on a less than stellar run which used Abattoir II and a weird cryptotaxidermist as villains. That is not to say that those stories were bad, but I would not accuse either of extremely high quality. Perhaps more importantly, neither of them took advantage of Legends unique nature as a non-cannon title by exploring new aspects of the Batman mythos or presenting Bruce in a new light. Thankfully, last issue shook things up with a glorious one shot (I mistakingly thought it was a multi-part story and reviewed it as such last week. My mistake) which showed a possible version of Bruce Wayne in his twilight years. Now we get a new arch with Peter Milligan (former writer of Rebellion comic 2000 AD, current writer for Vertigo comic Hellblazer) handling the writing and Riccardo Burchielli (former artist for Vertigo comic DMZ and Arkham Unhinged) handling the art. Does this new arch also bring something new to the table, or is it standard fare for a Batman story?

In this issue, Batman chases down a stolen helicopter with some fancy tech, but will Wayne Enterprises plummeting stock lead to Batman falling to his doom?

A Different Kind of Hero

I asked for a different interpretation for the Bat, and that is exactly what we get with this issue. Batman has something he calls his Bat-Wing in this issue which is significantly different than any sort of vehicles I've ever seen him employ in the past. Picture the illegitimate offspring of Iron Man and an X-Wing, and you might end up with something like this. It has shields, an interactive hologram touchscreen interface, and lot of other doohickeys and whirlybobs. It looks really cool, and I like the way Bruce uses his tech in this issue, but at the same time, I hate that Batman often uses his tech to get out of tight situations. As I've mentioned many times before, Batman often has the exact right tool for any given job, and that is just too convenient.

Based on the revelations we have later on in the story, my objection to Batman being too reliant may or may not interfere with my enjoyment of this arch. The tech is definitely going to play a major role, but there are several different directions the writer could take the story some of which would play into the annoying plot device nature of the Bat equipment, and some that would fly in the face of it. It's just a bit too early to tell.

Bruce's personality is also altered a bit in this issue. He is a little bit snarky in his inner monologue and his conversation with Alfred. He is a tad dismissive and cocky which is not his usual mannerism.

As far as the story itself, it kept me guessing the entire time; I never knew what was coming around the next corner, and that is a good thing in my view; I like to be kept on my toes. Batman's actions all seemed fitting to the situation, and the issue broke off at a good point to make readers eager to learn what happens next.

Conclusion 9/10

I'm not comfortable giving this issue a rating because the arch could easily go either good or bad depending on future issues, but the writer, Milligan, kept me guessing through this whole issue, and he brought up an interesting new way of looking at Batman's relationship with technology, so

I'm giving Milligan the benefit of the doubt that he is going somewhere cool with all this.

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Legends of the Dark Knight #35

Legends of the Dark Knight #33

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Adaption

The latest arch of Legends of the Dark Knight was pretty good, but despite the arch's strong points, it ended with a bit of a fizzle that left a sour taste in my mouth. Now, we have a new arch with a new creative team, and I'm a little excited about this issue for several reasons. First, the cover is intriguing showing a Batman who appears to be wounded and on the verge of defeat which is an usual pose for a Legends of the Dark Knight cover. Second, the writing and most of the art is done by Rafael Albuquerque (former artist on Blue Beetle [2006] and Superman/Batman and current artist on American Vampire) who has a good reputation for quality work. On the flip side, Albuquerque is primarily an artist, and things sometimes go awry when artists put the pen to paper and write words. Still, I am intrigued. Is this a new vision of Batman that will thrill and chill you, or does this comic just leave you high and dry?

In this issue, Batman tracks down a shadowy figure to a circus only to come face to face with his entire rogues gallery.

Albuquerque

My first thought upon opening the issue is that I can understand exactly why this guy has earned a good reputation, and even if the story were complete crap, it might still be worth the recommendation just to see this art style. Now, it might not be for everyone, so keep that in mind, but for my money, it's really good. Style wreaks from every corner of this issue as a twisted vision of Gotham takes shape in these pages. Everything feels kind of gross in this issue which is no doubt exactly the effect desired.

Then again, maybe I being too bold in my judgment because mixed in with the harsh brutality and grime of this issue are some stunningly beautiful shots of the circus, the city, and one character portrait of Two-Face which was so good, Albuquerque signed it right in the middle of the issue...and not subtly either. In my mind, that kind of boasts of an ego, but I can't deny that it appears to be a well deserved one.

There was one thing that annoyed me about the art, and that was the first panel of page 2 where Batman grits his teeth. For some reason, Albuquerque did not draw the individual teeth on Batman's lower row of teeth even though he did do the upper row. To me, this gave the panel the appearance that Bruce was wearing fake teeth. Other than that, the art is stunningly well done.

What's Happenin'?

There is a twist halfway through this issue, so read no further unless you want the dirt.

(Spoiler) The story appears to leap forward to the end of Bruce's life where he is a dried up old man who gave up the mantle a long time ago. There are hints about what might have caused Bruce to end up in this sad state of loneliness and neurosis, but so far, there is no clear answer. Presumably, it ties in to the events at the circus, but the events in both present and future were interesting to me, so as long as the arch answers these mysteries by the end of the run, I don't mind being kept in the dark.

(Spoiler) I hope we actually get to see events play out at the end of Bruce's life, but I suspect we will not. Supposedly, Legends is set outside of continuity, so it would be awesome to see various takes on Batman in his elderly years, or Batman married, or Batman with a cyborg body. Anything to change it up a little would be cool, but I suspect this is a false future we are seeing. Clearly, Bruce was going a little loopy before the leap forward unless a dozen of Batman's greatest foes actually came together for this plot. More likely, the weird cherub midget who bit Bruce poisoned him in the process, and this is all some sort of hallucination.

Conclusion 9/10

It is always difficult to judge a story this early on, but so far so good. I think this is a safe bet for any Batman fan; even if the plot ends up crapping out, you will still get great art.

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