Wanna see a mountain of armored muscle beat a bunch of defenseless kids senseless? Then you came to the right place! Come for the spectacle, but stay for the depth. Not only does this issue feature plenty of action, it also poses delicate philosophical questions that would tempt the best of us.
Last month, I spent some time discussing the fact that this new Talon reminded me of an old Batman nemesis from 1987 called The Reaper. My initial commentary was based on the vaguest of gut feelings, but now that I have read this issue, I am even more certain that Bermejo was inspired by The Reaper to create the new villain we see here. From his tattered cloak, to his weapon of choice, and right down to the character’s mission goals; I’d say this Talon is the very essence of what The Reaper was. Additionally, they both wear body armor that makes them impervious to bullet fire and both demonstrate a penchant for dispatching their victims in gruesome ways: beheadings and cleaving opponents in two.
The Reaper and this Talon also share a street level vibe about them. Reaper was very concerned with the punishment of your average criminals: drug dealers, muggers, prostitutes, and mafia. I get that same sense from this Talon. As if I didn’t already provide enough evidence, Reaper believed that the only way to deal with crime was by a sentence of death. A belief that he tried to instill within Batman. Much in the same way that this Talon eggs on Izzy to use a gun, The Reaper did the same to Batman. Essentially, he is The Reaper in all but name. I’ve said this before, but whenever comics can take an old concept and breath new life into it, I firmly support it. It honors the past but also paves the way for something new.
Another thing that Bermejo did exceptionally well, was to make Gotham feel like a real city. As the events of the story unfold, they are televised across Gotham. We get to peak into a myriad of different apartments and end up watching several families react to the disturbance. Too often, stories focus on the action and confrontation but don’t pull back enough to give us the bigger picture. Not only does this provide us with an interesting vantage from which to view the events, it also shows us who the heroes are fighting for, and in some cases, the concern of the very families that they are a part of.
You know, from “The Lion King“
Halfway through the book, Izzy is faced with whether or not to kill to save her own life. I’m sorry. I don’t care what kind of morals the band of Robins is trying to uphold. If somebody is coming at you with a knife and is threatening to kill you, you shoot them dead! That is just self preservation kicking in. I know if it had been me, it wouldn’t have taken me 8 pages to make a choice. I know they want to be Robins, but they aren’t. They are just normal people, and normal people can’t afford to handicap themselves by adhering to a code that is guaranteed to get them killed.
An ever present concern of mine has always been making sure that the kids don’t seem too competent. This story definitely delivers on that, and in spades. The Talon completely decimates them, and in a perverse sort of way, it was fun to watch. If he had been interested in killing them, this title would have ended right here and now. Showing the kids losing time and again genuinely drives home the fact that you can’t just throw on a mask and become a hero. If these kids had been shown as being just as skilled as the A listers we have been following for years, it would have seriously called the big guns standing into question. Sure, the kids have the willpower for it, but it takes more than guts to save the day in a city like Gotham.
The only thing in this issue that I didn’t quite care for was Duke’s internal monologue in the first half of the book. If you didn’t read last issue, Duke was involved in a drive by shooting. His bullet proof jacket prevented his death, but being pummeled with bullets still sends his system into shock to the point that he can’t even move. Given the amount of pain he was in, I found it odd that he was able to think anything at all. Later, when he is back on his feet and fighting with the Talon, he is coming up with all these cool nicknames for himself mid-battle. Let’s be honest; in a fight for your life, you aren’t thinking, “I’m a sentinel of Justice”, you’re thinking, “oh crap oh crap oh crap”.
Lastly, I have two quick comments to make on the epilogue. First, who is Carmine Di Giandomenico and why isn’t he providing art for the entire book? I flipped to that last page and was just like, “WOW!” Second, why did Alfred blow up that car right next to all the Robins? I get why it needed to be done, but why right next to them? He could have easily shredded them with shrapnel. It was completely unnecessary and done just to end the issue on a bang (pun intended).
- You wanna see the flock of Robins take a serious beating.
- You like when the rest of Gotham receives as much attention as our main cast.
- You’re interested in seeing the newest Talon in action.
- You like your story served with a side of philosophical debate.
In my review for issue 4, I mentioned that I would have quit this series if I weren’t reviewing it. I definitely spoke too soon. The last 2 issues have been much more engaging for me than the opening salvo. I feel like this title has taken some time to find its groove, but now that it’s here, it’s delivering much more entertaining and captivating narrative.
SCORE: 8.5 / 10