Task Force Z #12 review

This is the final issue of Task Force Z. Looking back, I started out liking the series quite a bit, but it has been a case of diminishing returns for me. About halfway through the series, I felt that the story was starting to ramble, and last month’s #11 didn’t quite work for me as a penultimate issue, either. Is the creative team able to stick the landing anyway, or is this series simply going to peter out? Let’s have a look.

First of all, as a conclusion to the miniseries, this issue is very rushed, to a point that most of the scenes here—including the ones that are clearly meant to be more heartfelt—just don’t quite land. In general, we more or less go through the motions, and I’m not feeling any excitement or passion coming from the script as I read on. The book is barely giving me anything to hold onto, despite a lot of different stuff happening.

To get more specific, there’s supposed to be an emotional core involving Gotham and Gotham Girl. But we rush through the whole thing, and any opportunity to evoke emotion, or to allow the scene to breathe and let it sink in with the readers, is lost. Moreover, Rosenberg has introduced the characters of Gotham and Gotham Girl extremely late in the story, so these characters barely have any build-up or development, and yet the comic is sort of taking it for granted that readers will already be invested in these characters and caring about their fate. Unfortunately, that is not how it works. Characters need to be established within the context of the story that you are telling, no matter how famous they already are outside of your story. As such, I don’t feel like this series has given me anything that makes me care about these characters; if anything, they seem like a distraction from the story that I thought Rosenberg was telling earlier on. To have them at the center of the series’ finale feels unearned and out of place.

I’m also not a fan of the dialogue. It’s straight to the point, but not in a good way; it’s like the characters are just directly explaining the plot to each other, which, in turn, feels like the writer is trying to explain the plot to the readers. It results in wooden dialogue that’s rather on-the-nose and just not very entertaining. For example, Jason manages to change Gotham’s mind and have Gotham fight against Bloom over the course of a single page. It’s all so easy that any sense of threat, conflict or drama is completely absent.

Furthermore, the way in which Bloom is defeated, is pretty questionable too. Essentially, he gets ejected out of the story and that’s that. There’s no great final confrontation, and there’s no payoff to all the 11-month build-up toward Bloom’s endgame.

What’s also good to know is that the issue ends on a cliffhanger that teases a different story that’ll spin out of this. To me, the creative team has failed to properly conclude this miniseries, because there’s no satisfying ending. On one hand, I really dislike this, even though I honestly wasn’t expecting anything else. On the other hand, at least it provides some of the characters—mainly Jason and Two-Face—with new story opportunities further down the line. While I’m not a fan of Jason’s ending, because it once more points him toward The Joker and I’m sick and tired of that same old story…Two-Face’s ending could be interesting, depending on how DC is going to follow up on it.

As for the art, the character work is pretty good. From the sequential fighting to the character poses and right down to the emotional facial expressions, it’s all executed really well and the story is easy to follow because of it. There are times where the art takes on mythological proportions, particular when we see Jason holding a piece of debris that resembles a spear while he’s confronting Gotham, who’s a giant, intimidating force to be reckoned with.

Yet, I don’t think that this is Eddy Barrows’ best work. The backgrounds are hardly there; we just see debris and rubble—if we see anything at all—and it makes for a somewhat boring aesthetic. There’s also no sense of place because of this. I’m not sure exactly where the characters are, and where everyone is going or coming from, and basically how the whole thing is mapped out, as every panel more or less looks the same. The colors by Lucas don’t exactly help with that, either, because a lot of the same red and yellow and orange tones are used. The color work itself isn’t bad, but had there been more variation in color, at least the reading experience would be more engaging and dynamic, and therefore more fun. It isn’t until we get to the epilogue that there’s a change in colors, but at that point it’s already too late in the game.

Recommended if…

  • As long as there’s plenty of fighting, a dull plot doesn’t bother you.
  • Gotham and Gotham Girl are among your favorite newer characters introduced to the Bat mythos.
  • You came this far, might as well get it over with.

Overall: It’s such a shame how this series dropped the ball. It started out strong, but looking at this conclusion, I can’t really say that any of it was truly worth it. This issue ends on a cliffhanger and barely gives us a satisfying ending as it rushes through all the action, and because of that the emotional beats don’t work, either. The art isn’t bad, but the lack of backgrounds and the repetitious color schemes make for a pretty bland overall aesthetic. All things considered, I can’t recommend this issue, especially when there are far more interesting books on stands this week.

Score: 4/10

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