Do you like really over-the-top sci-fi stuff in your Batman comics? Then you’re going to like the new Batwing that Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray are writing.
I thought that the series might pull away from the more fantastical elements that made up the latter half of Zavimbe’s tenure as the Batman of Africa, but instead they are embracing space ships and monsters all the more. Issue #22 picks up where the last comic left off with the Fox family home being overrun by the red ant soldiers known as the Marabunta. The Marabunta are revealed to be controled by a hive mind system, which I thought was a pretty cool idea but it was a concept that didn’t really go anywhere and they crimson clad soldier ants merely behaved like any other heavily armored thugs you see in any other book. Perhaps having them speak in unison or something would’ve been creepy? Anyway, this attack was a really fun action scene that showed how well Luke can fight outside of the Batwing suit, but honestly it was a better display of how much of a badass Lucius Fox can be and that’s something we don’t see often. I mean, the guy who makes Batman’s weapons must be fairly tough, right? That said, I would like to see more of Batman (not in Batwing but other comics) tinkering on his own. I like the idea of Bruce turning to Lucius as an ally who can supply gadgets from time to time but I would prefer if he didn’t rely on him as much as the Bruce of Nolan’s film trilogy.
Back to Batwing #22, the home invasion was the real highlight for me. After that we see that the Marabunta have a UFO of sorts and then the book shoehorns Batman into the story. Granted, it makes sense for Batwing to turn to Batman for something as important as what transpires in these pages, but it was the frequent cries for help from previous Batwing David Zavimbe that made many lose interest in that character. As Luke makes this statement, “When I catch them I’m going to tear down their entire operation.” I was pumped for what would happen next but it was immediately followed by “First I need to know why they’re after my father. To do that, I’ll need to talk to Batman.” which is decidedly less cool for an action hero to say. I picked up an issue of Batwing to see Batwing as the hero, not the sidekick and that’s what he becomes in the last half of this book.
Things I noticed about Batwing 2.0’s suit in this issue:
- The new Batwing has no rocket boots. This definitely sets him apart from the almost identical Batman Beyond, but it also begs the question “Why would you not keep the rocket boots?”
- “Switch to Detective Vision” — Rather than calling them infrared lenses, we’re now adopting the term from the Arkham Asylum/City video games.
One of the best things I took away from this book, besides the thrilling home invasion scene, was that Palmiotti and Gray made sure to address how important it is that Lucius never know that Luke is Batwing. The fact that Lucius would stop making gadgets for Batman if he knew that Luke had been pulled into the never-ending war on crime could lead to some great drama in the future.
However, with the over-the-top sci-fi villains are really at odds with the plot of the story here and that dragged the book down quite a bit for me as well. Why do the Marabunta need Lucius Fox’s expertise on Bat-boats and Batarangs when they already have a UFO, a machine/monster that can absorb knowledge from one man’s head to another, a giant robot soldier ant, and the ability to control an entire army via hive-mind armor? Batman’s tech sounds like a step down, honestly. If the Marabunta didn’t already seem like some of the most technologically advanced villains in the DC Universe maybe their interest in Wayne technologies would excite me more.
Lastly, I thought it was great how the following image happened to fall on the same day as the release of Batman ’66.
There’s a lot of fun action and Eduardo Pansica is proving to be a great fit for the series. However, the over-the-top villains and Batwing’s inability to face a threat on his own is turning me off from this title. If you’ve enjoyed the previous 2 issues then I think you’ll enjoy this one, but it definitely hasn’t hooked me yet.