Batwing, you are reprieved.
I was totally ready to cut this title from the review rotation if this week’s issue wasn’t any good. In fact, I was rather looking forward to finally being done with it and having one less mediocre comic to read. So I had nothing to lose here. If it was good, then great, I’m reading something I enjoy, but if I didn’t like it then it would be the last time I would have to slog through a Batwing adventure. What did we end up with? Well, Fabian Nicieza wrote one of the best issues of Batwing that I can remember! I was interested and entertained the whole time, and now I’m actually looking forward to reading more.
There are no aliens here or magical cultists or anything terribly over the top. That was one of my big problems with this series. You set a book in a part of the world with the most strife and then decide to ignore all that and just use the same fantastical stuff you can find in any other superhero comic? What’s the poing? What Nicieza does is take the story back to Tinasha and the very real problem of police corruption. It’s an issue that focuses on David’s relationship with the world around him and it’s the first time in a long time that the series actually felt like it was taking root. The first arc left Tinasha to visit Egypt, then we went to Gotham, and then we went to some other fictional country led by a man with a giant hammer or something, I don’t even remember anymore! In issue #16 we dive deeper into David’s day job as a police officer, his bond with Kia, and most importantly he addresses the consequences of David and his alter ego Batwing taking a stand against all the corruption once and for all. Until now the cops haven’t bothered with Batwing at all because he makes their jobs easier and they haven’t bothered with David because he never attracted their attention. It’s a good crime story, alright and my only major complaint about it is that the prose could’ve been richer. David’s narration is quite boring in its brief, matter-of-fact nature.
Issue #16 was all intended to be a one-and-done story for Nicieza, but after he was hired to be the ongoing writer the plot was expanded to be a full arc and I’m glad. This could really take Batwing into an interesting direction.
You’ll notice Marcus To is missing and from I understand he isn’t coming back, but what do I know? I don’t ever bother reading solicits until it’s time to write the weekly “Upcoming Comics” article so surely someone in the comments below will have the straight dope. Now, I know a lot of you will miss Marcus To’s pencil and the style used here might be off-putting to some because of all the crosshatching, but it grew on me after a few pages. I think there’s a lot of good detail here, but the faces need some work to be more expressive. The Batwing armor has never looked better in my opinion. There are some shots in the Haven where you see Batwing’s full arsenal with all the little doohickeys that go into his gear and the circuitry behind every plate and I appreciate stuff like that. Speaking of gadgets, one new trick David pulls with a hologram was particularly clever and a great way to keep his identity secret. I think the artist also did a better job with the backgrounds than any of the other previous pencilers and really gave the world more depth. Do we still have any idea as to how big Tinasha is? Nope, it still shifts between shacks in a meadow to sprawling cityscape quite frequently, but I think in time we’ll get a better sense of this place. It would be nice to have a shot of the skyline or a map or something thrown up from time to time. Oddly enough, Allan Jefferson didn’t get any credit on the book’s cover even though he drew all of the interior pages. That’s a shame. At least he got a byline on the title page. There were some lettering problems as well that were kind of annoying. In one text box the narration reads “Phillip and Ancil Marksbury. They this club.” Do they own it? Was that the missing word? It’s not that important to the story, like I said, it’s just annoying. Another mistake was when David and Kia’s superior calls Kia “Okuras” instead of her actual name Okura. Then again, that could’ve been intentional and the boss simply always gets her name wrong…but I think it’s more likely that it was just a screw up.
This is a great jumping-on point for new readers. Not only does it start a new arc that takes Batwing back to the elements of his character that I personally find the most interesting, but it does a fine job of reintroducing the supporting cast, the setting, and, most importantly, our hero Batwing. If you’ve never read an issue of this book before you can start right here, right now. Issue #16 is a short and sweet crime story that ends in a way that actually felt like David made a difference… one that will have definite consequences for both him and his alter ego.