I wasn’t really a fan of the previous issue, and I’ve been noticing a dip in quality lately. What the creative team needs to do in order to finish the story on a high note is create narrative focus, especially this late in the game. Is the creative team able to pull that off with this issue? Let’s have a look.
The issue starts with Stephanie meeting with Jason and telling him that Powers International is doing “something” weird at the Snyder Rink. I suppose the point of this is to introduce an element of mystery and suspense, but to me it just seems like we’re starting off kind of vague, without a clear sense of direction. What happens next is that Jason and his Task Force go to the Snyder Rink and run into an old acquaintance that they have to fight. After that, Jason and the gang fight a bunch of soldiers, and then they meet with Harvey, who has secured a new base of operations for the Task Force. This issue doesn’t read like a suspenseful adventure comic, like the early issues in this miniseries, but rather like an outline where we just hit the plot beats and move on. I’m honestly not sure what this series is trying to say anymore.
After this issue, there are only three more left. Early in the series there were interesting and fun plot twists, but now the narrative just kind of rambles on. I do believe that if the creative team puts all their focus on crafting a strong finale that ties up the loose ends, this story can be worth it, but I’m no longer confident that they can still pull this off. I have a strong feeling that editorial has been meddling with Rosenberg’s writing, forcing him to include more Bat Family members in the middle of his story a few issues ago, which halted the momentum of this series. Moreover, this issue does next to nothing for Jason’s team mates: they don’t get much character development, if any, and the current team isn’t even half as interesting as the previous Task Force. Early on, Task Force Z had a great roster. Now it feels like a random rag tag bunch that don’t have any chemistry and it just doesn’t work anymore.
I do greatly appreciate that Barrows and Ferreira are back on pencils and inks, respectively. We see some fantastic layouts in this issue, and especially the fight scenes are very entertaining due to high quality art. There are also some great visual narrative cues throughout the issue. They are subtle and organically implemented in the art. For example, there’s a panel where Harvey Dent stands in between Jason and Black Mask, trying to keep them from fighting each other. Jason is on Harvey’s “good” side and Black Mask on Harvey’s “scarred” side. It makes sense for Harvey to stand between Jason and Black Mask in that moment, and I really enjoy how this turned out visually. Moreover, Lucas’ colors are great once again. The colors on each page all work together nicely to create the cohesive aesthetic that I’ve come to expect and enjoy from Lucas, and I’ll just reiterate once more that Lucas is the true star of this series—the one constant in a story that’s seemingly lost its focus.
One thing that Task Force Z #9 has going for it, though, is that it ends on a pretty fun cliffhanger that reminds of me earlier issues in the series. It makes me curious to see what happens next month and what exactly Bloom has in store for Jason. But whether or not that’s going to pay off in the next issue remains to be seen.
- You have come this far. Why give up now?
- You’ve been waiting for Barrows’ return to the series.
- You don’t mind a somewhat rambling narrative; you just want awesome action scenes.
Overall: I enjoy this comic’s visuals a lot more than its story. The art is solid all the way throughout, with fun layouts, high energy action scenes and cool thematic visual cues. The story lost some of its focus, and it remains to be seen how the upcoming final three issues of this series are going to turn out. If you haven’t dropped this book yet, you might want to see it through, since we’re so close to the end, but I don’t consider this issue a must-read, let alone a must-buy, by any means.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.