So far I’ve been digging Task Force Z. This series has been very entertaining, the characters have been interesting and there have been enough plot twists that make me want to read on. However, this month I find myself being a little more critical of this book, so let’s just get into it.
As was revealed last issue, it turns out that Crispin is actually Harvey Dent. While I appreciate that Harvey gets something to do again, I don’t see a good reason why Harvey should be the guy behind Task Force Z. For starters, he’s sounded almost playful throughout the series so far, wise-cracks and all. It was a fun voice for Crispin when I didn’t know that it was actually Two-Face, but now the character feels off. There’s also a moment in the comic where Two-Face doesn’t stand up to another character in a way that I think he should be capable of, which makes it seem like his character is being diminished for the sake of the story. That said, there are instances where I think Two-Face is more in-character, like when he tricks Jason into thinking he means no harm when it’s actually a trap.
Furthermore, I think it’s good that Jason—and by extension the reader—receives more information about what Task Force Z is, who’s behind it, and what its purpose is. But the way that this information is received isn’t very interesting, because it’s really just exposition delivered through the conversation between Two-Face and Jason. It would have been a lot more fun, for example, if Jason made these discoveries by digging for this information behind Two-Face’s back.
Later in the book there’s a scene with Jason and Batman. The scene itself isn’t bad, because it goes more into Jason’s reasons for wanting to continue his mission, but the execution is a bit uninspired. We see Jason and Batman fighting street crooks, and while that’s pretty fun to see, especially because Barrows, Ferreira and Lucas do such a good job rendering this fight scene, the fact is that this fight has no connection to the main story whatsoever. These thugs are completely random characters. Had there been some sort of connection to the main story, the scene would have been stronger. As it stands, it feels like this scene was strictly mandatory and had to be shoved into this issue rather than having it occur organically.
As for the art, I am still a big fan of the work that Barrows, Ferreira and Lucas are doing here. But what’s very disappointing to me is that there’s also a fill-in artist. McKeown draws several pages, and Vines inks these. Lucas maintains some aesthetic consistency by coloring the entire issue in his unique style, but at the end of the day McKeown’s and Vines’ renditions are vastly different from Barrows’ and Ferreira’s. This creates jarring visual shifts several times throughout this comic, so I hope that McKeown and Vines are only here for this one issue and that Barrows and Ferreira continue to draw everything else. No disrespect is meant to any of the creators featured in this issue, but it is my job to review the finished product. When this book has a consistent art style, it rocks. When it doesn’t, it’s a bit of a mess, visually.
That said, this is still a pretty fun read in general. One thing you can really count on when you pick up an issue of Task Force Z, is that the plot is always moving. For example, in this issue the creative team starts a B-plot that centers around Mr. Bloom, who clearly has his own secret agenda. The plot twists continue and the action is solid, even if the book can use a little more narrative focus to tighten things up.
- You are looking for a fun, action-driven comic book.
- You want to find out more about what this task force is.
- You don’t mind a jarring switch between very different art styles.
Overall: I’m still having fun with this series. There’s enough forward momentum for a steady narrative pace, and the plot twists keep things fresh and interesting. However, there being very different artists in this same issue and Two-Face not really reading like Two-Face doesn’t do this comic any favors. These are not deal breakers, but definitely something to consider if you are following this series. For now I still recommend this comic, though.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.