Alright, if you’ve come this far into my reviews, you should know EXACTLY what you’re about to get here. No? Okay, here’s a robot Ra’s al Ghul being shot to smithereens by a random gangster. As an example.

Really, what’s there to say about the writing and the art in this issue that hasn’t already been said? Neal Adams is, at the very least, consistent in his inconsistency – each surprise is more wacky than the last, and his characters say and do the most baffling of things with such an air of confidence that you can’t help but respect it. I find myself wondering if I am the protagonist of a Lovecraftian novel: privy to the machinations of beings beyond my comprehension, falling into a deep insanity in my attempts to understand them. The actions of Batman, Deadman, other Batman, Robin, Robin, Nightwing, OTHER Batman, Ra’s al Ghul and Deadman’s secret sister Chiaroscuro – no, I’m not making ANY of this up – are beyond my mind’s ability to process. The best I can do is try to break this issue apart… and hope I don’t crumble in the process.

To begin, I suppose I should talk about Chiaroscuro’s fantasy world – it’s been heavily featured in the story at this point, and while I don’t particularly understand how or why it exists, I have to revel in the fact that it does. The opening scene was as hard to follow as usual, but I had a genuine laugh at one of the jokes in the barfight between Chiaroscuro and another scantily-clad warrior. I can’t imagine this woman is going to appear in anything other than this comic, but I’m enjoying her more and more; it’s funny to see a supposedly feared warrior just let Batman do what he wants because of how bored she is.

Eventually it comes out that she and Boston Brand (Deadman) are siblings, as revealed by Batman. All he really has to say regarding how he figured it out is that he’s a detective, which is about as much depth as I’d expect from the story. Honestly, this book is just as much about Deadman as it is about Batman, although the reasons as to why are hard for me to fathom. On the other hand, why should I complain? I much prefer whatever is going on in this comic to another 6/10 Batman and Ra’s story. I can safely say I’ve seen Batman and Ra’s fighting for the soul of Gotham before – but have you ever seen Batman and Bruce Wayne split from each other, with Batman having to wear a Bruce Wayne wig? Because, again, I am NOT screwing with you here.

I suppose my only “complaint” about this disasterpiece is that not much happens in this issue, aside from the plot getting even thicker. Aside from the revelations about Deadman and Batman, the only major event that happens in this issue is the reveal of the Batman Games.

…The Batman Games.

In which an Australian has dressed up as Batman to participate. And which Bruce plans to join. No, we don’t know why the Batman Games exist. Or, uh, what they are.

…Sooooo. Yeah.

I’m starting to wonder if this book plans to go down the route of Batman: Odyssey, and suddenly spring on us a second six-part miniseries to conclude the story. I wanna see ALL of the Batman Games™©®, damn it, and I’m just not sure two issues is enough for that! Although, considering the concerningly inaccurate Australian accent Adams has tried to write, perhaps it’s for the best that we don’t see how he writes other nationalities competing in the games.

I think that’s about enough you need to hear regarding Adams’ writing in this issue; if you’re expecting hidden nuance or surprising depth, I’m surprised you’re still reading. The art is about what you’d expect as well, but since we’re here, let’s pick apart one of the more ineffective scenes:

First off, I don’t think I need to explain why needing an arrow to guide the reader from panel to panel is a bad sign for your comic… but more than that, where are Nightwing and Robin supposed to be here? In panel one, we see them passing by Alfred, Nightwing on the right and Robin on the left – the same is the case for panel two, as they pass through a room with a flowerpot in the background. Yet in panel three, we see the two back against the doors from panel one, with no flowerpot to be sighted and Alfred in tow… and suddenly, their positions are swapped! There’s something to be said about the pulpy style of Adams’ work, but it’s hard to justify how someone thought this layout was acceptable. This is just one example of the issues plaguing this book, and it results in an absolute mess of a comic; one you’d be far better off reading while intoxicated.

…Which makes it even funnier that this is my favourite of the comics on my review list.

Recommended If…

  • You like your monthly dose of Neal Adams.
  • You’ve come this far. You’re four issues in, are you seriously gonna stop now?
  • …Uh.
  • What else are you looking for? Etrigan’s also in it?

Overall

I can’t say I hope Neal Adams – comic book legend, need I remind you – reads my takedown of his story. I’m not kind on this book, on account of it being… bad. But what I would hope he knows through all of this is that it comes from a place of love: love of his work, love of the characters and, indeed, love of this book. This is a more palatable form of Batman: Odyssey, and you can’t ask for better (or worse) than that.

“Score”: 3/10

How much I actually like the book: 8/10

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Disclaimer: DC Comics provides Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.