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If you’re like me and love these characters to the point that you’re happy with a story even if it’s just about them sitting around having dinner together, then you’re going to have a good time with this chapter.  No, they don’t have dinner together, but it is just a bunch of talking with nothing really “happening”.  It’s a story that focuses on ideas and points of view.  If you’re an adrenaline junkie, it might not be your cup of tea, but it definitely had my attention.

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The first idea that really stuck out to me was this one involving Clayface.  Now maybe I’m mistaken, but I don’t recall ever seeing this particular spin on Clayface before, and I think it’s fascinating.  This one little paragraph, that would be so easy to overlook, has me looking at the character with fresh eyes.  And not in a way that undermines any previous feelings I had about him.  It simply adds a fresh layer to the character that makes him more than just that guy who can shape-shift. One of the things that bothers me about writers in comics is that they will occasionally define a character by his powers instead of by concentrating on who the character is inside.  I think that Clayface is a character that more often than not falls into that category.  His stories are often built around his power set instead of being set up as an exploration of his psyche.  Tynion is definitely covering the psychological aspects of the character, and I’m quite happy about that.

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The next idea this comic broaches that I had not even considered is presented to us by Stephanie Brown.  Whether you agree with Steph or not.  Whether this is even true or not.  This is a very interesting notion to consider.  I’m not sure I have anything concrete to add, but it’s definitely not something I wanted to pass by without at least presenting it as material for possible discussion within the comment section.

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Most of my biggest takeaways from this issue were presented in extremely quick and relatively small exchanges.  This one is no exception, but while the others are quite tied to the narrative, I think this one can also give us some advice that we can easily apply to our own realities.  Whatever we choose to believe in isn’t as important as how we choose to act towards others.  In regards to the story,  much of it has involved our characters debating whether or not their actions have caused more harm than good.  As Valley puts it, good only leads to more good.

With that in mind, Batman recounts an event where innocent bystanders were struck by stray bullets that were meant for him.  Sure, those specific individuals are casualties that occurred indirectly by Batman’s involvement, but to think that an equal or greater number of casualties wouldn’t have accrued by his inaction is highly improbable.  Likewise, Batman would most likely feel guilty over deaths that resulted from his inaction too.  So, it seems to me it’s damned if you do and damned if you don’t.  I also think it’s important to note that a lack of Batman’s involvement is not a guaranteed way to insure public safety.  In this specific scenario, people could have just as easily been injured in a crossfire between criminals and the cops.

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Wow.  That’s a pretty dramatic cape flourish for just crossing the room.

Art for this issue is handled by two separate teams.  Al Barrionuevo was responsible for the water-colory looking stuff and Carmen Carnero produced the more standard looking comic art.  Personally, I prefer the Carnero stuff.  It seems to me that Barrionuevo is more interested in conveying a feeling, but in the process, it begins to lose some of it’s realism: faces end up lacking consistency and a strict adherence to correct anatomical proportions isn’t always followed.  Instead, it conveys an almost romantic aesthetic when defining the world and the characters who inhabit it.  Carnero, on the other hand, is the opposite of that. Delivering clean lines and cohesion.  That’s not to say I didn’t like or enjoy Barrionuevo stuff.  Both artists have appealing qualities to their work.  However, I’m not sure that having these two artists contribute to the same comic was the best move.  Since their styles are so different, you really take note when they switch back and forth between the two.  Hence, I ended up looking at this issue as more of a story than an experience.  Personally, I like being immersed in the world and don’t like being reminded that it’s just a story.  When multiple artists contribute to an issue, I prefer there to be a in-world reason for a change in the art.  For instance, hallucinations or dream sequences.  Here, it feels like they just did it because they needed to get the book published on time.  Hence, fill-in artists.

Spoiler

  • It looks like next issue will involve the team engaging with The Victim Syndicate at the Tompkins Center while Stephanie has a chat with a pseudo Tim Drake in the Mud Room.  Personally, I’m more interested in the Tim/Steph scene.  But I’m also wondering how that will play out if we have a heartfelt scene intercut with a bunch of action scenes.
  • If Steph knows something and doesn’t tell Batman in time, it seems to me that any people who get hurt as a result of her not telling Batman what she knows will technically end up being her fault.  Right now I am confused by what her motivation would be to keep quiet.  Hopefully Tim can set her straight.
  • Did anyone else notice that Alfred, Harper, and Batwing call First Victim “he” but Steph specifically calls First Victim “they”.  Seems to me like an intentional attempt by Steph to hide the sex of the individual behind the mask since she might know it’s a woman and not a man.

Interesting Facts:

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  • I’d imagine most of us recognized that image instantaneously, but for those that didn’t, it’s an homage to Detective Comics #27 (1939).  That’s from the cover of the first comic to ever feature The Bat-Man.

Recommended if…

  • You like a comic that makes you think.
  • You like when a comic focuses on character scenes over action.

Overall:

This issue is all about presenting you with ideas and getting you to think.  It’s about putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and seeing the world through their eyes. I believe character exploration is one of Tynion’s greatest strengths and because he is always so right on target regarding their portrayals, he can spend entire issues doing “nothing” and still keep me enthralled. It doesn’t bother me that they aren’t out there hitting the mean streets and cracking heads because I actually care about these characters, what they think and how they feel. If you share my sentiments, you’re going to have a good time with this book.

SCORE: 8 / 10