Batman is in this comic!
Opening to the first page and seeing Batman and Flash took me completely by surprise. Usually when a major character appears in another character’s comic, DC likes to shout it from the mountain tops. But this time, there was no mention at all in the solicits. Either they were actually trying to give readers a genuine surprise, or they are just too busy gearing up for Rebirth to care about the last remnants of the New52. Whatever the case may be, it was still a wonderful opener for the story.
For the most part, this story is nothing but non-stop action. And really, that doesn’t leave me with too much to talk about. Sure, I could point out every little cool moment where someone is flipping through the air or kicking someone’s teeth in, but then I’d just be telling you everything that happened, and I’m not going to do that. Fortunately, it’s got a little bit more than just that. Between all the explosions and fisticuffs, we get a few brief character moments.
The most notable one is the family reunion that takes place between Batman, Talia, and Damian. On a surface level, this felt really nice, but when looking at it more deeply, I began to realize that it was hollow. Granted, there isn’t any time to stop and really talk about things (since the world is about to end and all), but that is what I’d really like to see. These characters have such a history with one another. It would be really nice if they could take the time to lay it all out on the table instead of interacting with one another through a series of cliche exchanges. Some of the shots were set up specifically to pull at my nostalgia heart-strings, while I know that the way I feel and the way things will play out diverge greatly. Take this for instance:
First off, ignore the fact that Talia conveniently ends up in Batman’s arms for some reason. I mean, what just happened there? Did one of those thugs knocked her backwards or did Batman just snatch her out of the air. Definitely not one of the best examples of sequential storytelling right there. Layout aside, it was an obvious decision that was made to remind us of the days when Talia and Batman were in love. Look at that embrace, the way they both seem to be smiling, gazing into each other’s eyes, and that gentle touch on his shoulder. It’s all broadcasting affection, but it’s a brief glimmer that isn’t real. They aren’t getting back together. And what is even more odd to me, is that they show Damian lapping it up. I know that even though Damian acts like he is completely self sufficient, he does need people in his life, but I was never under the impression that he sought to get his parents back together. It all just felt slightly off to me once I took a step back and thought about what I was seeing.
When I first saw this image, I mistook her hauled back left arm for more wisps of fluttering hair.
Didn’t see it for what it was till I was clipping the image.
I also really liked this bit. Even though Talia and Damian are very much enemies, from a certain point of view, she still has protective instincts for an individual who had at one point in time vowed to kill her. It’s a very complex and interesting dynamic at play. One could also say that the piece I criticized above is actually following that same line of thought. That there is still affection between these enemies, or at least a remembrance of affection, but only enough to show itself for the most fleeting of moments. I guess it’s not so much the idea that I have a problem with, as the hokey way in which they tried to convey it. Kinda like the interaction between Elizabeth Swann and Will Turner at the end of “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End”. When they are fighting all those guys at the climax of the movie, but act all lovey-dovey with each other. There ain’t no time for that! Plus, it’s just silly.
While most of the dialogue that Damian spouts sounds completely natural to be coming out of the character’s mouth, I had a bit of trouble wit this one:
A gift of many punches. This doesn’t sound like something Damian would say. In fact, it doesn’t sound like something anyone would say. Seriously. Try saying it out loud. It just sounds overly clunky. But hey, there is more good than bad, so at least there’s that.
- The next issue takes place on Dinosaur Island! Now that’s a blast from the past. Seriously though, Dinosaur Island is a location from a 1940s Batman and Robin comic. Granted, this Dinosaur Island and the original one aren’t actually the same one, but I’m still filled with a sense of nostalgia. Batman & Robin…together again…and on Dinosaur Island. Ah…comics.
- The dialogue on the cover of this comic is a play on words that is referencing a book from 1983, written by Dian Fossey, called “Gorillas in the Mist”. Five years later, it was adapted into a movie with the same title starring Sigourney Weaver. Both book and film tell the true story of Dian Fossey, a primatologist who went to Rwanda to study Gorillas. In my mind, I remembered this book/film being about Jane Goodall, a primatologist who studied chimpanzees. Fortunately, I took the time to look it up before writing this “Interesting Fact”. Although, I think the mental fumble could be forgivable, seeing as how the two women are often seen as the preeminent scientist in that particular field. In regards to her loose attachment to the cover of this book…I don’t think she would have liked it. Fossey was quite outspoken about cruelty against animals and poaching.
- Some of you may not be aware of the fact that Flash’s brief cameo does have some minor significance. In the late 50s, a new villain was introduced to the pages of Flash: Gorilla Grodd. Grodd was a primate that was given powers by a space alien. The alien also gifted the gorillas otherworldly technologies. So, that is why a lot of the gorillas in this comic are running around with laser weapons. As for the Flash, he is here as a subtle nod that this city is part of his mythology.
- You want some good old-fashioned (and somewhat mindless) comic book action.
High on action but super light on anything else. This issue does feature Batman, Talia, and Damian, but their reunion is nowhere near as impactful as I wish it would have been. While there’s no chance this comic is winning an Eisner Award, if you’re just in the mood for some mindless action, this comic will do the trick.
SCORE: 6.5 / 10