A reptilian beast has been terrorizing Gotham’s usual terrorizers, but what about the most obvious link to this nasty ne’er-do-well? What about Croc? Where’s Croc? Have you seen Croc? Maybe we’ll see him in Batman: Reptilian #4. Then maybe I’ll talk about it. Below.
I done told you
It seemed obvious to me that this book would be connected to Croc in a significant way, but no, they told me—it’s not about him. Well, he may not be the perpetrator of these nasty attacks that have been leaving Batman’s rogues hanging by a thread, but he’s definitely a major part of the picture. But now that I got what I wanted, am I happy?
The bar isn’t very high
In my review for the previous issue, I complained about the way Ennis writes Batman’s dialogue:
There [are] some lines that are just absolute clunkers—out-of-character bits that suggest that Ennis either didn’t bother to find Batman’s voice, or that he just doesn’t care about who he’s supposed to be in the first place…
The general response I see from other readers: Ennis can do what he wants, because this is the best Batman story being published right now. My response to that?
Choose a higher bar.
If you like this book, more power to you. There’s a lot I like about it, too—even some of the things that grate on me sometimes, like Sharp’s painted artwork—are at other times some of this title’s greatest strengths. But I don’t think it’s asking too much for Batman to sound a bit more like Batman. I recognize how dicey a statement like that can seem—after all, over an 80+-year publishing history, there’s been quite a bit of variety in what Batman sounds like. But I do think that it’s reasonable to expect him to be consistent with who he is. And Batman being cavalier about a grave situation—that contradicts who he is. I don’t give Ennis a pass because it’s a good story, and definitely not because it’s Elseworlds, because it’s not Elseworlds. It’s non-canonical, but it clearly isn’t meant to be taken the same way as Injustice or Gaslight.
So what about this book?
I’m pretty much where I’ve been all along: I think Sharp’s work is at times deliciously moody, and at others lacking necessary clarity. I think Ennis’s Batman reads like somebody other than Batman. And I still really want to keep reading, because I’m terribly curious about the nature of the mystery. So, good on the creative team for doing enough to make me want to keep reading, but I can all but guarantee that once will be enough for this particular tale.
- You like Sharp, even when his work isn’t sharp
- You don’t mind Ennis taking liberties
- Some other, third reason
Batman: Reptilian #4 moves the story to a place I’ve been wanting it to go. I’m grateful for that, and want to see what comes next. But I’m still not happy with Ennis’s Batman, and Sharp’s painted work is hit or miss. Here’s hoping the mystery will be worth the investment, or I may find myself regretting picking it up in the first place.
DISCLAIMER: Batman News received an advance copy of this book for the purpose of review.