I’m going to give a brief review of issue #20 before jumping into this week’s Batwing #21 review. I think all the Batwing fans should appreciate that.
Anyway, Batwing #20 is a terrific jumping-on point for this series as you get to experience the brand new creative team of Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray (they also write All-Star Western together) and you see the all new Batwing Version 2.0 in action for the first time. In fact, the title of this issue is “Batwing V. 2.0: Welcome to the Family.”
It’s quite the big shake-up. David Zavimbe wasn’t selling comics so now we have Lucas Fox, Lucius Fox’s son, who was apparently Batman’s original choice to be Batwing (which is surprising because Lucas is so immature). Using Lucas Fox ties the series closer to the real Bat-family so it works in that regard but at the same time I wish we would stop adding a superhero/villain aspect to every relatable human character in Gotham. Lucas’ personality so far is a lot like Dick Grayson (his action scenes have him move in a very acrobatic fashion reminiscent of Nightwing) or Terry McGinnis and this suit he wears is very much a cross between the Batman Beyond suit and Marvel’s Black Panther– it’s way cooler looking than Zavimbe’s suit. Way cooler. And the dynamic of this new direction is also very Batman Beyond-esque because we have Batman sitting at a computer in the batcave barking orders at Lucas. It’s entertaining. You just need to ignore the fact that Batman should really have better things to do than walk Lucas through his missions.
As for the villains he fights, they’ve gotten a lot more colorful. While I was hoping for something a bit more grounded, Palmiotti and Gray have gone the opposite direction and we see Batwing combat giant red ant robots. Even when I think we’re going to get into something serious with the horrors of diamond mind operations, it’s revealed that the kingpin behind the blood diamond trade is a Lion-centaur. It’s pretty strange, but it’s also quite fun and the fight scenes are good.
But one of the best parts about this issue is that it’s finally established how many kids Lucius Fox has. We get to see his whole family. Over the years, Lucius has gained a child here or there whenever it’s convenient for the story but now the question of Lucius’ home life is finally answered.
When it comes to the artwork, Eduardo Pansica and Julio Ferreira share that duty while Jason Wright handles colors. The action scenes are very energetic and exciting (can’t stress enough how much they feel like Nightwing battles) and seeing this high-tech Batman fight such over-the-top villains makes for some memorable imagery. It’s the quieter moments, however where the pencils start to slack. The facial expressions just look bad.
For a first issue, the new Batwing looks alright. If you’re even the slightest bit curious about the new direction of this series then I think issue #20 is worth checking out. No regrets here. I read it a month ago now and it still sticks in my mind so that has to count for something.