First Victim’s dastardly plan unfolds as a gigantic rage induced Clayface goes on a rampage through Gotham City that will undoubtedly turn many more citizens against the Dark Knight over his willingness to utilize a super villain on his new task force. Will the Gotham Knights be able to stop Clayface in time, or is the damage already done?
This was a super fast read! When I got to the end, I actually went back through and counted the pages to make sure there were 20, because it definitely didn’t feel like it to me. The majority of the story is spent herding Clayface away from potential victims and towards Monster Town so the team can use Victoria October’s serum on Clayface. But with so much action, there really wasn’t a lot of room left over for much else. The thing that’s odd about the action is that even though it is fast paced, it doesn’t really feel all that epic….and I think that is what the team was trying to deliver.
I’m not sure why, but I just had a real disconnect from what was going on. Now maybe that’s my own fault, or maybe it’s the fault of the story. I’m not really sure which. All I know is that my experience was one in which I never really felt all that involved in the narrative. I just followed along with what was happening till I got to the end. But maybe that’s because I wasn’t given the time or space to get involved.
Personally, I think that the story demanded too much from us without giving us enough to work with. Like I said, the focus on action didn’t leave much extra room, but that doesn’t mean the story didn’t try to throw in everything and the kitchen sink. We are expected to empathize with Tim losing the Belfry, accept that Anarky and Spoiler have come to terms with who they want to be as people/heroes, and witness the culmination of the Cassandra/Basil friendship that has been a C plot since almost the very beginning of Rebirth. It’s a lot to take in, and any one of those moments could and should have been given a lot more room to breath. Not saying that they all should have had their own issues or something like that, but there was definitely more worth exploring in each of those plot points than this story permitted.
Tynion does start the story off with a three page flashback in order to remind us of how enthusiastic Tim was about The Belfry, so at least with him we do get to spend some extra time in order to help us feel sorry for him over seeing all his hard work dashed to smithereens. But still, what did that have to do with the story at hand? Yes, it was relevant because it just got destroyed, but it was hardly important to the A plot. And beyond that, Tim doesn’t even feature in the rest of the story after that point. Yeah, he is there, but he is drifting in and out of consciousness so he doesn’t really contribute in any real way, nor does focusing on his loss really matter at this given point in time. I mean, we don’t get a conclusion for his mini arc, so why was it even broached?
How rushed was this story to fit everything in? So rushed that the main villain gets defeated off panel! Wow. Not only that, but Anarky broadcasts what First Victim was up to, so I guess that’s the stories way of saying that all those people shouldn’t be mad at Batman anymore. I don’t know. Seems way too quick and easy of a cleanup for me. It was nice seeing Anarky come to his senses, but does his change of heart really forgive him for his past transgressions? I mean, it’s not clear because we move right along without really being given time to ingest what happened, but it seems to me that Tim and Steph were just going to let him go….even though he is still a criminal. Ok then….
And don’t even get me started on Steph. She has one dialogue balloon that supposedly eradicates any and all character turmoil that she’d been feeling up to this moment. Like….for real? I mean, she went to see Lonnie in Arkham, but the story doesn’t bother to give us a conclusion to that conflict. At least not a real one I can accept. Nor does it even decide to go anywhere near the fact that Tim was feeding her little white lies and she knew about it. Like….seriously!
Now, let’s talk about Batwoman. She casually mentions to Batman that her father gave her a gun to use on Clayface. Admittedly, Batman is super occupied at the time so it does make sense that he couldn’t truly focus on the implications of what she was saying, but he doesn’t seem at all surprised to learn that Batwoman had been meeting with her dad. He’s just like, stick to the plan! Once again….seriously? I think I’d be a little concerned that a member of my team might have been conspiring with an enemy, especially since FutureTim told them all she was bad news. But…whatever.
One of the only truly redeeming features the story does have is the final scene between Cassandra and Basil. Cassandra ends up quoting Shakespeare’s The Tempest. The specific part she quotes isn’t the most relevant part of that particular speech, but it basically goes on to say that you should forgive others the way you wish to be forgiven. That, coupled with the previous things Basil said to her immediately before this panel make me think helping Basil is her way of also helping herself. As in, she needs to believe that someone like him can come back from where he is in order for her to also finally accept that she isn’t the monster she once was.
But even then, it’s over and done with before you can even blink an eye. Is this really what their friendship has been about all along? Just something that was built up for the readers so that when this moment finally came along we would all be able to view it vicariously through Cassandra.
Art for his issue is handled by Jesus Merino, and while I thought most of it looked pretty good, there was one thing that kept standing out to me as kind of odd:
He kept drawing everybody with their mouth open but their teeth together. I don’t know about all of you, but that’s not a very natural resting position for my face to be in. My lips are either together, or if my mouth is slightly open, my teeth are slightly separated from one another. Seriously, go to the mirror and try and make the face that Batman or Cassandra are making. It’s not very comfortable. Of any of the shots I shared above, the distance on Tim’s lips is probably the most acceptable/normal even if it still feels weird for me to make that face. There are certain facial expressions where it makes sense for your teeth to be together but your mouth to be open. Take a look at some shots from last week’s Batman:
Here you can see that their teeth are together and their lips are apart, but there is a reason for it. Catwoman is smiling and Batman is gritting his teeth and showing his war face. Why are all the people in this week’s Tec doing that stuff with their mouths. I’m not really sure.
Odds and Ends:
- I love this quote from Tim. Totally had me thinking about how off the character portrayal was during the New52 years before Rebirth brought back a more classic version of Tim.
- In this issue, Clayface turns into a giant monster and runs amok destroying buildings in Gotham City. To play off that concept, a little Easter Egg of sorts was slipped into the story. There is a movie called Pacific Rim where giant monsters (Kaiju) come from the sea to attack cities on the land. Santiago Segura is an actor from the film, but I don’t believe Benicio Del Toro was in it. Maybe they meant to write Guillermo Del Toro. He was the director.
- You want to see a Godzilla sized Clayface reeking havoc across Gotham City.
While this is the finale of Fall of the Batmen, so much is left unresolved. In fact, I don’t think a single thing was resolved. If anything, this issue left me with more questions coming out of it than I had going in. The story also demands too much from us without giving us enough to work with. There are so many plot points jammed into this one story that it’s ridiculous. Granted, I’ve seen other stories handle a lot without buckling under the weight of it all, but here, each element isn’t given enough time for the full exploration it deserved. At the end of the day, this story isn’t here to tell us anything, but instead, merely string us along.
SCORE: 4.5 / 10