It’s the last act of Batman: Sins of the Father so it’s time for a final confrontation between Batman and Deadshot; that means a clash of ideologies, a battle of wits and (as promised on the cover) Batman punching Deadshot in the face!
If you lose yourself in the moment and don’t try to guess what’s going to happen, issue #6 makes for a tense climax. Alfred’s in trouble again (didn’t Bruce just save him at the end of the first season of The Telltale Series?) and only one man can rescue him. But how can he fight a man that’s always a step ahead of him? By keeping a cool head- Whenever Gage writes a calm Batman, he feels like the familiar hero we’re all used to (whilst in earlier issues this disciplined polymath lost control and it didn’t seem right). I really like that Gage has Batman try to talk sense into his enemy; even for the dark knight, violence should always be the last resort. There’s a lot more Batman than Bruce this month but as this issue concerns his final encounter with Deadshot, that makes sense (the Telltale trope of the hero making hard choices has rather faded by this point anyway).
I wasn’t as enamoured of Gage’s portrayal of Deadshot on my first read through but I’ve warmed to it. Lawton gives Batman an ultimatum that he believes will destroy his status as a hero. Firstly, even I can think of several ways out of the predicament in question and secondly, what’s the point? He says, ‘I’m not complaining. It’s how people are. I just want everyone to see that [there are no heroes].’ Gandhi said ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’ but instead of, for example, looking out for kids with childhoods like his own, Lawton decides to follow in footsteps of the Batman v Superman incarnation of Lex Luthor (albeit less whimsical). Instead of bringing heroes down because they can’t understand why everyone else adores them, why not either be a hero or let the likes of Batman and Superman restore their faith in heroes? Well, what I hadn’t considered originally is that you can’t apply logic to the irrational actions of human beings- and even more so when the person in question is as unhinged as Gage’s version of Deadshot. The series delivers on the promise of it’s debut; a mirror is held up to the dark knight and the moral of the story can be construed from the differences between him and his doppelgänger in the face of adversity.
From Deadshot #1 (1988)
A few words about the final page:
- Lawton is approached by a shadowy figure who asks him to go on a suicide mission. Presumably this is Amanda Waller, a character who turns up again in The Enemy Within. Apart from that, this story doesn’t really bridge the two series of the game; it’s a standalone story after all.
- Some versions of Deadshot have a death wish while others have not. The iteration seen in Sins of the Father directly echoes his forebear (see pictures above and below) by keenly accepting his own potential destruction. The original, formally-dressed version never wanted to die and I don’t remember the New 52 or Rebirth versions mentioning this much either; maybe in the main continuity he isn’t suicidal anymore (in fact, in Suicide Squad #1 (2016), Waller posits that he’s lying about his suicidal tendencies; he actually lives for his daughter now).
- Why is Floyd wearing sandals in a rat-infested cell? Either he made a poor choice or the Arkham staff are slipping back into their sadistic ways.
With issue #6, Raffaele Ienco closes out his first series with DC Comics. I’m glad there weren’t any guest artists as Ienco has a unique style and it would really have ruined the flow of the trade. As with each of the issues, part six shows off Ienco’s excellent attention to detail; the clothing is textured, the weaponry drawn with precision and even the background characters have distinct features. The only thing that’s missing from many scenes is a backdrop (though I kind of understand this; the characters are the focal point and backdrops are pretty dull to draw!). The weird expressions that featured previously aren’t prevalent in this issue, though I did find it odd that Bruce doesn’t smile when complimenting and joking with his beloved butler. The character’s stances are still often stiff, especially in a scene involving the most awkwardly drawn hug ever in which both participants look like posed action figures. Major continues to provide a wintry colour palette, which rhymes nicely with that of the Telltale Series. Though the flare on Deadshot’s targeting device is sometimes distracting, I’m pleased to see that this issue, Major has the glow of Batman’s eyes back under control.
- You’d like to see whether or not Bruce comes to terms with his father’s legacy (this was a thread that wasn’t really sewn up in the original Telltale Series).
- You can stand yet another flashback to the deaths of Thomas and Martha Wayne (luckily, it’s a brief one).
- You like the sound of a whole-issue showdown between Batman and Deadshot.
Overall: Batman: Sins of the Father is a very straightforward tale. It’s firmly grounded, there aren’t many surprises or moments of levity and it isn’t stuffed with complexity, intertextuality or subplots. For better or worse, it’s the opposite to the kind of stuff most writers are doing with Batman at the moment. Ienco’s individual style and diligence in every particular is admirable and fans will appreciate his replication of design elements from the game series. Though the series went awry in the middle, Gage has successfully introduced his own take on Floyd Lawton (who I still felt sympathy for despite all his goading this issue!), continued the tale of the game’s raw, emotional Bruce Wayne and steered the series to a satisfying conclusion.