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Absolutely fantastic!  Here we are at part three of “Rise of the Batmen”, and the arc hasn’t had a dud issue yet.  So far, this has been the most downright enjoyable, engaging, well written, and beautifully rendered storyline to come out of Detective Comics in over a year.  I can’t say enough good things about this issue…..but you know I’m going to try.

If nothing else, this arc has been an excellent display of all things character related.  It’s explored character motivations, established their personalities, developed them organically, and basically just had them behaving the way they are supposed to behave.  Which you’d think would be job number one, but you’d be surprised how many times an author will have a character do or say something that just isn’t within their purview.  Staying true to form, this issue starts off with a great character scene between Kate and….RENEE MONTOYA!!!!!  Woohoo!

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Renee is one of those characters that casual Batman fans might not associate with the world of the Dark Knight, but she definitely has a huge fan following within the comic community.  Pre52, Renee was in a relationship with Kate.  However, we didn’t end up seeing Renee till very late in the New52 continuity, when she showed up in Detective Comics #41 (2015).  What I find interesting about their conversation is that it’s obvious that the two have had this relationship, but we never see it in the New52.  Perhaps it was in the pages of Batwoman and I just missed it because I stopped reading after Blackman and Williams left the title.  If that is the case, someone let me know.  If not, it seems to me that we can almost just insert parts of their pre52 relationship into this story for contextual purposes.  If you need that kind of thing of course.  I know that I do that all the time.  To me, the original material still stands until I see something overwriting it.  And even then, that is just to keep the continuity straight.  I obviously keep my own personal idea of canon that isn’t altered by every decision DC makes.  But I digress.  Even if you aren’t familiar with the character backgrounds, it’s a great scene for both characters that completely stands on its own and simply gives you a deeper understanding of Kate.

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Next up, we discover that Batman has been subdued by The Colony.  Both Batwoman and Spoiler are in shock that Batman got taken down.  Granted, maybe this is their first time experiencing Batman on the ropes, but I personally couldn’t relate to their shock.  Batman gets beat up all…the…time.  It happens so often, I can’t even begin to guess how many times.  Batman getting knocked unconscious and then waking up in some elaborate death trap is a tenet of the character after all.  It’s not that Batman never gets beat, but the fact that he never quits.  He will get hurt, recover, and then come back with a vengeance.  It’s a staple of the character.  So, seeing them flip out about it seemed odd to me.  But like I said, that’s from a reader’s standpoint, and not theirs.  What I’d like to point out is that we only see a handful of guys knocking him around.  Last issue, we were told that there were 50 of them and saw that he was completely surrounded.  What I would like to believe is that he actually took out 40 or so of them.  But by that time, he was so worn down, that the last few guys had an easy go of it.  At least that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

During this segment, Robin gives a motivational speech to Batwoman, who in turn give a motivational speech to the rest of the team once they show up.  Both speeches are really rousing and honestly got me pumped up and really excited.  The Robin speech was particularly well done.  In only five word balloons,  we get a concise interpretation of Batman, how Robin feels about him, the level of comradery they share, and the exact incentive Kate needs to get the job done.  When you have limited space to tell a story, it’s important that each element inform on the reader multiple things at once, which Tynion is doing a superb job at implementing.

We do end up finding out the identity of the “villain”, but I’m not going to reveal it to you.  I’m bringing it up because a lot of you already guessed it ahead of time and were showing concern if that was the direction they were going to go in.  Personally, I didn’t catch it and would have been surprised if I hadn’t read your theories in the comments.  I also didn’t find anything wrong with it either.  For those of you who aren’t happy with this turn of events, I’d be very interested in you sounding off in the comments and letting me know why you don’t like it.

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So, here is my one little nitpick.  The bad guys show up and have our heroes surrounded.  Robin asks Batwoman to buy him time while he attempts to hack into The Colonies’ network.  Considering that Robin’s little holo-screen is hardly discreet and everyone can see him typing away at his wrist, did he really think that nobody would have noticed what he was doing?  Incidentally, they let him do it because while he was hacking them they were hacking him.  So at least it was part of their plan and they explain why nobody stopped him, but still.

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When I found out that Eddy Barrows was only handling the first two issues of Tec, I got a little worried.  Who was replacing him and how jarringly different would their styes be.  I think we can all agree that having a single artist pencil an entire arc provides a level of consistency that is just more pleasing to the eye than jumping from one artist to another.  Having said that, when I started reading the issue, it took me a couple of pages for it to register that a new artist was indeed present.  That’s not to say that their styles are identical in any way, but the art was just so good that I momentarily forgot that I had originally been concerned and just got immersed in the story.  Alvaro Martinez is the artist for this issue, and I think his work sits in that perfect sweet spot.  It’s not the kind of art that is so gorgeous that you aren’t even reading the story because you are sitting their slacked jawed by its beauty but it’s also not at all the kind of artwork that features negative nitpicks that distract you from enjoying the story either.  In essence, it’s kind of perfect, and I think he is a great successor to Barrows.  I looked ahead, and according to DC, Martinez is handling the next 3 issues and Barrows is back for the finale.  And that is ok by me.

Odds and Ends:

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  • Does anyone else think that Tim’s cape seems a little too short?
  • Going forward, what I would love to see is that Batman is already in the midst of escaping when the team shows up to rescue him.

Interesting Facts:

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  • This issue establishes that The Belfry is located within the Old Wayne Tower.  And I love how many of Anton Furst’s original design elements are present in the newest rendition of that famous Gotham structure.

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  • The General!!! aka Ulysses Hadrian Armstrong was originally introduced as a villain for Batman (1992) but soon became synonymous as one of Tim Drake’s villains.  A youth with the mind of a military genius, Ulysses was not to be underestimated.
  • Robin calls up camera 1425-1427.  Batman #425 is the issue right before A Death in the Family and 426 and 427 are the first two parts.  Did they mean to say camera 1426-1429?

Recommended if…

  • You want to read a story with tons of character centric scenes.
  • You’re a huge Renee Montoya fan and would buy a comic even if she just has a cameo in it.
  • You’re a Tim Drake fan.  Tynion is simply killing it with his depiction of Drake.

Overall:

This comic is so good, I feel like I should shake up a bottle of Champagne and spray it all over the place as I open it up.  You know what I’m talking about.  You’ve seen movies.  But seriously though, I can’t remember the last time I gave three consecutive issue of any title a score of 8.5 or higher in a row.  Got curious after writing that statement and checked Comic Book Round Up.  This is only the 4th time that’s happened in 2 years.  With stats like that backing it up, you know this has got to be good.  Granted, this is only 3 issue in to a 7 parter, but this has been one hell of an opener.  I believe in you Tynion.  Don’t let me down.

SCORE: 9.5 / 10