So the best issue of any bat-title since the release of The Dark Knight Rises is actually about a teenage girl. Can’t say that I saw that one coming but I’m happy at least something good has come along. With interest in Batman at an all time high right now due to the recent movie, the comics need to be at least decent so we can hook people (One of us! One of us! One of…) but so far Batman is the only title pulling its weight since July 20th.

Issue #12 is a nice one-and-done tale that answers all your questions about Harper Row except for how she found Batman after he escaped the labyrinth. I’m still fuzzy on that. But as for how she knows Batman, what kind of person she is, and how she went from princess to punk rock between Batman #1 and #7– that’s all here. And there’s even a great surprise for fans of The Black Mirror as well.

Don’t worry, it’s not all ghetto living and teen drama, Batman does show up in this book. He’s used just the right amount and artist Becky Cloonan’s depiction of him reminded me a lot of Paul Pope’s Batman: Year 100, which is a good thing. Speaking of art, Capullo and Glapion are gone for this issue. It’s a shame, yeah, but I think you’ll get by. I did. Cloonan’s cartoony style fits the story well and as I said before, I liked her Batman. What was odd though is that instead of having a separate backup story the issue suddenly gains a writer (James Tynion IV) and changes artists for the final 8 pages and it’s very jarring. Andy Clarke’s realistic and very, very grainy style is the exact opposite of what Cloonan was doing for the bulk of the issue. Both artists are great, don’t get me wrong. I’d be more than happy to read a full issue of Batman penciled by either of them, but they don’t go well together. I like peanut butter and I like shrimp, but don’t dip my shrimp in the peanut butter–that’s a ridiculous analogy and you’re smart enough that I didn’t need to use one but whatever.

Here were a couple other problems I had that were kind of spoiler related:

Spoiler
Parker describes Batman as secretly sapping power from Wayne Industries buildings so has she not heard of Batman Inc.? Are we dropping that whole idea or should we assume that Parker just doesn’t stay up-to-date on recent events? If the world knows that Wayne funds Batman, then he’s not secretly sapping anything from Wayne. And he’s also not being very secretive about it if he’s slapping a bat emblem on every power hub he installs.

Another problem I have is (again, don’t read this if you don’t want things spoiled for you) Tiger Shark. What was he doing? Why is he riding a boat in the sewer? Why is there a tiger on the boat? Who rides a boat in the sewer with a shark? Why are sewers always depicted as being so enormous in fictional works? The sewer in The Dark Knight Rises was big enough to build a house in and this one is literally big enough for a boat and not just any boat but a yacht! And how’d she stop it? She turns the valve and the whole sewer instantly loses enough water for the yacht to grind the floor and come to a halt? Shouldn’t it have been scraping the bottom already? How ****ing big is this sewer? Do Gothamites poop that much that they need a sewer with channels deep enough to keep a yacht afloat? The boat stops and we see Tiger Shark, the tiger, and Batman falling, but then Batman is the only one who is okay so we just have to assume that Batman survived simply because he’s Batman and the day is saved because only Batman could catch himself–even though cats always land on their feet and it’s a really big cat. It’s not like we see Batman grapple to safety or anything. 2 panels later, he’s okay. That’s it. Moving on.

And one more problem I have isn’t really a problem at all. Yet. Harper and her brother talk about how terrible their father is and I can’t help but be nervous that he’ll turn out to be yet another villain, possibly one we already know. Snyder’s The Black Mirror gave us Jim Gordon Jr. and Tony Zucco’s daughter and then we had the whole (again, spoilers) Lincoln March fiasco in The Court of Owls story. I’m sick of surprise villain relatives.

It’s a fun issue mildly hurt by a jarring art shift and then a ridiculous and very rushed finale (which I covered in the spoiler section. It’s a fun scene if you don’t think about it too much) but overall, I enjoyed this issue. I like Harper Row a lot. I think she’s a great character and I think this is a wonderful one-shot issue that you can pick up and get the whole story all in one sitting. Very satisfying. Quality one-shots are few and far between nowadays. Interesting new characters are even more rare.

SCORE: 7.5/10