Well that was…kind of boring, actually. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t that good either. Kyle Higgins and Eddy Barrows have taken a two issue break and Tom DeFalco and Andres Guinaldo (whose work you’ve seen before in this series) are filling in for a brief adventure before all Bat-titles dive head first into the Death of the Family insanity. Issue #13 is the first installment of a 2-part story and it never quite gets up off the ground. Nothing happens in these 20 or so pages that isn’t conveyed on the cover. Lady Shiva is coming to Gotham and everybody is scared! That’s about it. So if you’re excited by what you see on the cover, you can totally skip this and come back next month. You never find out why she’s coming to Gotham or why she now looks like a cross between Shredder and Predator. What you learn is that Dick’s Amusement Mile project is still struggling to find traction, Batgirl is intimidated by the Joker’s return on a very personal level, and did I mention that Lady Shiva is coming to Gotham? The issue is loaded with scenes in which characters such as the Penguin (who is getting downright over-used these days) elaborate on how scary Lady Shiva is and how she is indeed coming to Gotham for some reason. There’s an awful lot of hype, but that’s all it is. Issue #13 is all about telling and not showing. Lady Shiva herself never even makes an appearance until an all to predictable final page reveal.
As for the Batgirl scene, this editor’s note really threw me off:
*This story takes place after Batgirl #14
Seriously? As if the zombie invasion happening in Batman & Robin wasn’t already making this crossover feel disjointed. And am I the only one who felt that Andres drew far too many armored plates on Batgirl’s costume. She looks like some kind of arthropod.
On the plus side, even though placing this story after next month’s Batgirl felt a bit jarring and it’s slightly annoying to see Batgirl lacking confidence yet again, it’s always a pleasure to see her and Dick share a scene together. I also like that DeFalco took the time to touch base with so many aspects of Nightwing’s world including Sonia and what’s happening at Amusement Mile (even though nothing much was happening there at all). One of the best aspects of the issue though was Dick’s detective work. You’ll see him use a very Matches Malone type character to collect some important information and he disguises himself using the EMP mask from Batman #1. It’s clear that DeFalco has paid close attention to the New 52 Batman universe. But my problem with the EMP mask: why doesn’t Dick use it all the time when he’s Nightwing? I mean, the domino mask isn’t doing him any favors. What better way would there be to conceal his identity than utilizing this nifty gadget?
Issue #13 is alright. It looks good and I like Andres’ straight forward page layouts and the way he showcases Nightwing’s acrobatics. The story regarding an incredible threat coming to Gotham that has all the mob scared is very good too, but I just felt that it was handled poorly. Everything that’s Shiva related could have easily been conveyed in far fewer pages. Most of the comic is spent watching Dick figure out that Lady Shiva is coming to Gotham and that’s not very exciting when we as readers already know it’s Lady Shiva. We’ve known since we saw the cover and we’ve known since we saw the teaser at the end of last month’s #0 issue. Saving her up for a final page reveal is fruitless. I just wanted them to get on with it. The next issue is probably going to be pretty cool, but this one simply stated the obvious.