Task Force Z #8 review

This is a series that started out pretty strong, but I don’t think that last month’s issue was quite as good. We are getting closer and closer to the endgame stage, so it’s about time that the creative team starts to focus on that endgame. Do they manage that in this issue? Let’s have a look.

Okay, look. The visual consistency is completely out of the window now. Barrows, the artist who was supposed to draw this series and who started out strong, isn’t featured in this issue and instead we get three artists with completely different styles. As a result, characters can look different from page to page. Backgrounds can look different. While the artists are trying to maintain some sense of cohesion, I don’t think it works, unfortunately, and it makes for a disjointed look and reading experience. If Barrows, for whatever reason, can’t draw every single issue of this miniseries and there absolutely need to be fill-in artists, then is it really too much to ask to have one artist draw an entire issue? I would prefer different artists drawing different issues to different artists drawing the same issue. The only constant here is Adriano Lucas, whose colors are always on a high standard and always elevate the underlying pencils. But even Lucas’ beautiful palette can’t prevent the visual consistency from falling apart. Art is extremely important in comics, I can’t emphasize that enough! The writing is merely the direction; the art is what conveys the story. When there are multiple interpretations of what the story’s world looks like, it’s just a mess.

The writing is not as strong this time around, either. The best scene in this issue is the one where a scientist walks in on Bloom, as Bloom is operating on Man-Bat, who is strapped to a table. This scene is ridiculous, but in an entertaining way. There’s just something really comical about Bloom towering over the scientist, while the scientist is accusing Bloom of ethical violations because of how he is treating Man-Bat. However, it does raise some questions. For example, does the scientist not know who Bloom is? Does he not know that Bloom once almost destroyed Gotham during Superheavy? Why is this scientist even interacting with Bloom instead of just running away?

This is followed by Batman chasing after Two-Face and the Task Force, while Jason sneaks into the Batcave to steal an important plot-related item. The fight scenes with Batman and the Task Force are fine, although there isn’t much more to it than just straight-up action. The scenes about Jason are a bit more interesting, but ultimately I don’t think they’re very fun to read.

The problem is that Jason is being confronted first by Barbara, and then by Dick, Tim and Cassandra, and what these confrontations really do is hammer home the fact that Jason’s been stuck in the same sort of character loop for many years now. I’m tired of Jason always being the black sheep that none of the Bat Family members trust. I’m tired of that same old story.

Of course Jason and the others come to blows, and it feels incredibly forced. I suppose the comic, to an extent, is aware of this, because characters kind of comment on it, but that doesn’t make it any better…in fact, it only calls attention to it. Moreover, of course these characters are talking each others’ ears off as they’re fighting each other. There’s even a moment where Nightwing throws one of his sticks right into Jason’s face, and the art depicts Jason getting knocked over, and yet Jason’s still able to speak entire sentences in the same panel. The dialogue itself throughout this passage isn’t very strong, either; it’s rather wooden and most of what these characters are telling each other, because it feels like a big rehash of what we’ve already seen countless of times, feels forced. I also don’t really know how Jason is able to overpower Dick, Tim and Cassandra and make them look like amateurs in the process, but that’s what’s happening in this comic, and that’s what we have to deal with.

The writer attempts to create some comedy in the middle of it all, and while I like most of the comedic beats in previous issues, it isn’t working for me at all this time around. For example, Jason hits Tim’s nose hard and Tim is yelling, “You broke my damb dose!” This could have been funny, but for me it’s timed so weirdly that it’s just not working.

I wish that there was more of a focus in the writing, and more originality. I appreciated this series when it started out because it always had cool plot twists and upbeat action, but rather than building up the cast of characters that we started out with, the majority of Task Force Z has already been replaced with less interesting characters, and it’s really starting to seem like the creative team just doesn’t have enough story to fill 12 issues. Hopefully the last few issues, as we truly enter the endgame stage, will be good and this is just a mere dip in quality along the way.

Recommended if…

  • You want to see Jason fight Nightwing, Batgirl and Tim at the same time.
  • You want to see what Bloom is up to this month.
  • You love Adriano Lucas’ colors.

Overall: I think this is the weakest issue so far. I just wasn’t as entertained by it, and I’m not a fan of Jason’s interactions with the Bat Family here because it emphasizes how Jason’s been stuck in a loop for years. Batman’s fight against the Task Force was fun, but it felt a bit hollow. Lastly, the fact that there are three different artists working on the same issue isn’t doing the book any favors at all. This issue is a bit of a mess, honestly, and it only marginally advances the plot. If the series doesn’t get back up to its usual quality with the next issue, this could be a jumping-off point.

Score: 5.5/10

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