Batman and the Flash continue their team-up in this chapter of “The Price,” and I think the title is a little ironic because it might have you questioning if the story is worth… wait for it… the price.
What? I write comic book reviews. Nobody said I was a comedian.
Gotham Girl has gone crazy (again) and is up to some dangerously shady dealings. She’s apparently been making some personal attacks against Batman that have been low-key and under the radar, but now she’s expanded her attacks to include Flash. What has she done to Batman before this? We don’t know. Why did she put Flash in her crosshairs? We don’t know. Why are we getting a random story about Gotham Girl that appears to be contradicting previously established continuity? Ummm? Because this is Dan Didio’s DC?
Anyway, this chapter is a mixed bag. There are moments here that I absolutely love! I genuinely mean that. The first half of this issue contains some stellar moments that are shared between Bruce and Barry. Seeing them assess their current situation to determine where they need to turn their attention to properly investigate the problem at hand is every comic book lover’s dream! We rarely get to see these two work together as detectives, and the first half of this issue felt as if this would be the beginning of that detective team-up.
Wrapped up in this is a complicated mixture of respect and raw emotions due to the Sanctuary massacre. Each character has an internal monologue that runs throughout the first few pages, and it’s expertly written! Both men respect one another immensely, but their friendship is fractured. Batman and Flash both try to come to terms with where they stand, both with their own feelings and their thoughts concerning each other, only to reveal to the reader that their thoughts mirror one another. None of it is overwritten or corny, it’s just the right amount to get the point across, and since they’re internalized thoughts without any filter, they carry more weight. In fact, I’ll say that this portion of dialogue is potentially the best thing I’ve ever read from Williamson.
But then there’s a barrage of moments that just weren’t thought out. One of my biggest complaints about Williamson as a writer is his execution, and we see example after example of that here. I get the feeling that he gets so caught up in what he thinks are cool ideas, that he doesn’t fully work the story. If he did, he’d probably be an incredible writer. Unfortunately, his current track record forces me to view him as someone who misses the mark more often than he hits it.
Early in the issue, Batman is investigating the Flash museum, where he assesses an impact indention in the ground, which leads Batman to the conclusion that Gotham Girl is using her powers (as in, she used her powers to make a fast, hard landing). But… Williamson realizes how ridiculous this line is when the museum itself has been completely destroyed, right? Like, anybody with any common sense would lay eyes on this scene and know that she used her powers. Witnesses saw her throw a concrete pillar. The building has collapsed. Yeah, powers. Definitely powers. I don’t need to study the indention made in cement from a superhero landing.
And this is just one example. Later on, there’s a line that nobody was injured at the Flash Museum, but the images earlier in the story clearly show people being loaded on stretchers and into ambulances. There’s a clear contradiction here. Even Gotham Girl’s views and motivations aren’t consistent. She makes multiple claims that her only desire is to help people, but her actions are the opposite. There’s also her twisted view of Bruce, and the fact that he inspires people but doesn’t want them to put themselves at risk, therefore that makes him a terrible person. What? I mean, there are some good ideas here, and I can see what Williamson is trying to say, but they aren’t presented to their best effect. And yes, you could make the claim that Gotham Girl is crazy, but Batman goes out of his way to explain why she isn’t crazy… Even though she’s clearly crazy. It’s mind-numbing.
And these are just two examples. There are many more. For instance: Flash knowing a mixture of chemical compounds just by looking at it. Flash answering a call from Iris by saying her name, then Batman asking if it was Iris despite the fact that he was a foot away from Barry when Barry answered the call. Then there’s the whole “twist” concerning Batman and Gotham Girl’s powers… It’s just too much.
These types of moments are so frequent and irritating that I easily forgot about the elements I loved in this issue early on, and just found myself annoyed with it. Even towards the end of the issue when some interesting ideas were introduced concerning Gotham Girl, I couldn’t bring myself to buy into them. I don’t trust the execution. Even the set-up of these ideas present some questions concerning continuity, and even, in some ways, this “new” continuity that’s being established. I’ll be reading each week, but I’ll do so rather begrudgingly.
The Art: Rafa Sandoval delivers the pencils for this issue, and while I know I’ve read books with his art before, I don’t recall his working impressing me as much as it did in this issue. The art is simply fantastic here, and I’d love to see him on a regular schedule for DC. From his depiction of characters, to the scenes he creates, to the layouts he chooses, the work is top-notch! Keep this guy, DC! And Sandoval’s pencils partnered with Morey’s colors (the same colorist killing it on Heroes in Crisis) and Wands letters is a winning combination!
- You want to see Bruce and Barry acknowledge and respect each’s detective abilities.
- You love Gotham Girl.
- You want to see Williamson write Batman as if he’s a completely incompetent detective.
Overall: Chapter two of “The Price” delivers some great character moments between Batman and Flash, as well as some intriguing questions and teases for Gotham Girl… But that’s about all this book offers. Despite how good the dialogue is at times – especially the internal dialogues of Batman and Flash – this story falls short once you examine the details. There are too many instances where the script contradicts itself, the art, or is just so obvious that it’s a bit nauseating. If you don’t mind spending a few bucks for a few incredibly written lines in a mediocre-at-best narrative, then I guess this issue is for you.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.