New 52 – Batwing #28 review

batwing 28 real

Whose idea was it to change the colors on this cover? The dark blue drowns out the metallic grey of Batwing’s armor. The covers of Batwing have been phenomenal lately and I was especially looking forward to this one, but now that it’s blue? It just doesn’t pop! It doesn’t stand out the way the solicited pink color did. See?

Pink Batwing

The cover artist Mike McKone even sold the original work on ebay with watercolors that looked far better than what went to print.

water color batwing

I know we’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but come on! This is an even worse offense than last year’s cover change of Batman: The Dark Knight #16 that did away with the bright yellow backdrop and replaced it with a dull sea foam green (this was actually fixed back to its original presentation for the hardcover release). Anyway, that’s enough about what could have been my favorite cover of the week. Let’s continue on to the interior of the comic.

On the negative side…

  • It doesn’t do enough to make a seamless transition from the Gothtopia event of the previous issue and I think that’ll make for a somewhat jarring experience when it’s collected as a TPB
  • It acknowledges the whole “Gotham Underground” thing with tribes living underneath Gotham’s crust– an Ann Nocenti creation
  • The big bad guy’s character design is too over the top. I like his history with Luke Fox, but I don’t like how he got his powers or the ridiculous way he looks, which is something like the Arkham Asylum/City version of Bane but with a really goofy hood. In fact, DC even said it was Bane when they tweeted the preview for this issue– oops!
  • It’s hard for me to recommend issue #28 new readers because it depends so much on folks having knowledge of not only the previous issue but issue #25 (Zero Year) as well

But those are really the only misgivings I have about this issue and I think that fans of Batwing who have followed this story since it was teased in the Zero Year tie-in are going to be ecstatic about what Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti are creating. And I think that the interior artwork is really starting to live up to the promise of the masterfully done covers. Returning artist Eduardo Pansica, inker Julio Ferreira, and colorist Paul Mounts performed exceedingly well from cover to cover with creative layouts, rich detail, a fine showing of range from emotional scenes to comedic scenes and some brutal action in between, and the bright color palette actually emphasized the darker tone of this story rather than take away from it. It’s one of the best looking issues and definitely ranks up there with #26’s trip to Italy. And while I dislike the idea of a Futurama-esque underground city beneath Gotham the two-page spread that juxtaposes it with the moonlit Gotham skyline is a fantastic sight to see.

Now, as I said, this is a darker issue. If you read the previous issue then you know that Luke’s sister is missing and so it’s understandable that he be distraught but what issue #28 shows us is that Luke doesn’t do quite so well under emotional strain and it leads to moments that’ll make you go “Oh snap!” as he shows off a whole new side, a more savage side that Batman would likely not approve of. While the story spends most of its time focused on Fox family drama (I would like to see Bruce check in and maybe Fox’s acknowledgement of past ties to Batman Incorporated. You’d think if his daughter went missing he’d have a whole Rolodex of badasses– not a bad band name– to call up for help) and Batwing smashing drug dealer heads in an effort to get information, we also have some great moments with Ratcatcher who I like even more with this issue. He’s such a uniquely quirky villain and so odd that his outlandish costume actually works. I especially dig the way he refers to Batwing as “Not-Quite-Batman” and he shows off an even more humorous side with a casual reference to the novel “Perfume.” I want Ratcatcher out of the top-ranked henchman role ASAP. I even think he could’ve carried this story on his own without the lumbering Menace (I think his name is Menace).

I really had a lot of fun reading this. The art was nice, we’re seeing our hero get pushed to the edge, and there were a number of funny moments with the drug dealers and Ratcatcher (I never know to spell his name as one word or two), but it never got so light that it takes away from the seriousness of trying to find the lost Fox girl. Definitely pick this one up if you’re into Batwing at all and if you’re curious about getting into Batwing then I recommend picking up issue #25 and then skip ahead to issue #27 and this. Also, before I go…

There is a part of this book where some bad guys are startled and yell “Oh crap, it’s Batman!” but we have to turn the page to see the reveal of who it really is that’s surprised them. Well, when flip the pages you’re confronted by a full-page ad of The Joker’s Daughter #1 and I gotta say it honestly scared me. My immediate thought was “No! Not here too!” but my horror was unfounded and it was merely an advertisement. Did anyone else jump when they saw the ad or was it just me?

Recommended If…

  • You read last month’s issue and the Zero Year tie-in
  • You’d like to see a newer, darker side of Luke Fox
  • Hearing the phrase “New 52 Ratcatcher” piques your curiosity
  • Your pull list is in need of a bat-title that strikes a nice balance between the dark and gritty and the fun and adventurous

Overall

If you’ve been following this arc then absolutely go pick it up. I have some nitpicks about certain characters and certain aspects being dragged in from the Catwoman series, but none of that seriously harmed my enjoyment of this book which really felt like it had a lot of content for a $2.99 release. Very well paced.

SCORE: 8/10

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