In comics these days, when he’s not teaming up with the Justice League to tackle a cosmic threat, Batman spends his time attempting to overcome increasingly devastating, high stakes issues in Gotham, usually involving the destruction of half the city. Meanwhile, Gage and Ienco dream of a simpler time and in Sins of the Father continue to treat us to a straightforward story about a man, his nemesis and the handful of citizens caught in their crossfire.
The man in question is of course Bruce Wayne, more emotionally vulnerable than usual but when he adopts his alter ego, it’s clear this is a Batman at the top of his game. And he doesn’t just fight and glower; this Batman plans carefully, sneaks around and does actual detective work (It’s strange to find such a patient process in the pages of a six part miniseries instead of one of the flagships which have more space). Last month, I complained that Gage’s Batman talks too much whilst fighting so I’m pleased to report that he speaks a good deal less in combat in issue #3. Instead, Bruce’s thoughts are wisely transmitted in caption boxes and discussions with Alfred and his voice rings true; he’s serious, driven and analytical.
We also delve into the mind and history of Floyd Lawton in issue #3. The series is called Sins of the Father and it ingeniously sticks to this theme by tying its villain directly to the actions of Thomas Wayne. Just like Bruce, Floyd has a different family history in the Telltale universe but the re-write isn’t so drastic that he’s unrecognisable from the Deadshot we’re used to. As I mentioned last month, we’ve seen countless parallels for Batman over the years but I’m nonetheless intrigued by the promise of a villain who is just as determined, methodical, wealthy, educated in tactics and adept in battle as the dark knight.
Floyd paralyses his evil mother (Deadshot #4, 1988)
Floyd murders his abusive mother (Batman: Sins of the Father #3, 2018)
Naturally, there is a downside to closely examining the characters and that is that the story doesn’t move forward at a significant pace. We’re halfway through the series now and I don’t really feel like the battle between Batman and Deadshot has properly begun.
Despite this, readers can rest assured that Sins of the Father is always action-packed. Unfortunately, this is where Ienco is weakest in issue #3 as the fight scenes fail to flow; Black Spider doesn’t land a flying kick but he’s somehow on his feet in the next frame and whenever Batman kicks a group of attackers, they all just seem to fly away from him in unison as if he has an explosive foot. Speaking of Black Spider, I still love the new uniform design and would like to get to know the character beyond the one-dimensional, quipping foot soldier we’ve encountered so far but as it’s a short series I suspect this won’t happen (as he’s mostly blue now, shouldn’t he be called Blue Spider instead?).
Elsewhere, Ienco’s art shines as it has throughout the series so far. The architecture is suitably gothic and I love it when Batman has an impractically long and flowing cape; his silhouette looks sinister as he stalks the corridors of Arkham this issue. There’s a lovely close-up of Bruce’s face as well in which Ienco’s scratchy but effectively shaded, anatomically realistic work is enhanced by Major’s nuanced colour blending. Plus there’s Ienco’s USP of lots and lots of detail; a frame of the monstrous Dr Wayne shows a little trolley holding drugs in various receptacles, syringes, an intricately buckled straightjacket and padded cell walls while a security office features reclining chairs (perhaps not the most sensible purchase in a nocturnal, sedentary profession), doughnuts, patches on the guard’s uniforms and smartphones in their hands.
- You’ve been waiting to see Batman breaking into places to get the dirt on criminals again.
- You’re looking for something short to read that isn’t part of an epic storyline.
- You like Deadshot but don’t mind it when his history and motivations are messed with.
Overall: A solid entry in the series, mixing the long-lost art of detective work (albeit not particularly complex detective work) and the trials of dealing with an intelligent opponent with the traditional staples of scowling and criminals getting punched in the face. The issue ends with a questionable gambit that promises a better pace over the course of the rest of the series.