Can Batman dive into the belly of the beast, and yet live to tell the tale? Will I be glad that he did?

Good intentions

I told myself I would read back through the entire series, give the book a second chance. But Reptilian was a book that had my excitement before it had earned it, and that excitement, once squandered, has proven difficult to find again.

Why? Why is it hard for me to drum up the excitement I used to have for Batman comics? Some of you may remember, I didn’t start reading comics until 2013. Back then, the Riddler had reduced Gotham to a savage city, and Batman was wrestling lions while cars dropped from above. Pete Tomasi and Patrick Gleason had an unbreakable grip on my heart as Bruce went to the ends of the Earth—and beyond—to bring his son back from the grave. And then there were all the classic stories to discover. Things started to flag a bit as The New 52 came to a close, but then there was the promise of better things to come with Rebirth. But then, we all know how that turned out.

It’s been a long, slow slide since then, and while there have been a few bright spots, the trend has been down. You can argue about sales, but I don’t care—I just don’t think the books have been very good. And when even a premium book like Reptilian lands with a thud, I feel like it’s about time I check out.

What is this?

As some commenters have pointed out, DC’s Black Label imprint has been a place where top-tier creators can be more edgy and experimental than they could in the main line. But in an age of mediocre stories, Black Label needs to change. If this is the format that DC is willing to put money behind, then DC should be hearing pitches that capture the essence of their characters—stories that strengthen the appeal of IPs that have been in a swan dive toward disgrace for the past few years. Maybe in a different time, there would be room for Ennis’s annoyingly-chatty Batman. But this is not the time for that. How about giving Tomasi a crack at writing a Batman story where he has control over the beginning and the end? How about setting politics aside and throwing some cash at Dixon and Nolan so they can have another go at Bane? How about scouring the world for new talent that actually has some reverence for these characters? Pair them with veterans—books will sell, and before long, the new blood will become the headliners.

Isn’t this a review of a specific book?

At this point, I don’t have anything new to say about this story. This final issue is the same unfocused, mushy slog that the previous few issues have been. The useless Russian thug gets shot into the sky, and Sharp makes him look like Al Sharpton. Batman does his best Christian Bale impersonation. Yada yada, Croc might be a hermaphrodite.

Yay.

Not recommended if…

  • You enjoy a good Batman story

Overall

What an utter disappointment. Batman: Reptilian promised a legendary creator putting his spin on Batman, but what we got instead was what we’ve gotten far too often lately: a cowl inhabited by the inflated ego of a creator who thinks he’s bigger than the characters that have built the industry in which he labors.

SCORE: 3/10