I really wish DC would stop with the cover copy. Batwing #21’s cover is bad-ass and it would’ve looked a heck of a lot better without “THE WRATH OF LION-MANE!” crowding its way into the image.
So we open the book up and remember that Lion-Mane is in no way as big as he looks on the cover, but even an average-sized lion-centaur is a pretty big lion-centaur. The battle between Batwing and Lion-Mane takes up about half of the book so there’s plenty of action here for you, but it wasn’t terribly exciting for me. There’s a problem that happens in Batman stories where our hero manages to reach in his pocket and pull out the perfect gadget to get him out of a jam and it comes off as a deus-ex-machina. That’s one of the reasons I liked Batman: Year 100 so much, we knew exactly what Batman kept in his pouches. In the Batwing vs. Lion-Mane brawl, it’s basically page after page of Batwing pressing a different button on his suit to activate another powerful gadget that’s exactly what he needs in order to survive. It doesn’t really make him seem like that great of a hero and I still can’t see why Bruce had Luke as his first choice for Batwing. This fight scene felt like anyone wearing that suit could’ve handled Lion-Mane if they mashed enough buttons.
In addition to the Lion-Mane fight we also explore the Fox family dynamic some more as Luke heads back to Gotham. Apparently Africa isn’t going to be a full-time gig for Luke and he’ll be dividing his time between the two locations. These family moments are good, but just like last issue, the artwork by Eduardo Pansica and Julio Ferreira lensd itself well to fast-paced action but the facial expressions during quite, more emotional moments are lacking and often look downright awkward or unnatural. We also get to meet Luke’s love interest, who in only a few short pages showed more personality than any of Bruce Wayne’s recent girlfriends and I think I’m going to like her.
This was okay. It’s a series I’m still on the fence about but I’ll still give it a chance to see where it’s heading. However, Luke Fox came across as even more immature in this issue than the last and I still can’t see why Batman picked him as his first choice for Batwing. The artwork is great for action scenes, but in the character moments (of which there are many) the quality slides drastically. On the plus side, this issue did teach me that the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion pepper is the spiciest in the world.