There were a few things that I liked about last month’s first issue, and then there were a bunch of things that I disliked. My main critique had to do with the fact that a lot of the social criticism was rather on-the-nose instead of organically integrated in the narrative. I said that it wasn’t a bad comic and that it could become an interesting story, but that it was off to a bit of a mediocre start. Can the creative team up the ante in their second issue and convince me that this is a book worth reading? Let’s have a look.
The main problem with this comic is that it tries to be a compelling character drama, but it just isn’t working for a number of reasons. First of all, we spend too much time watching characters just sitting around talking. For example, because of the events from last issue, there’s now an internal investigation in the police department about Park’s actions, and the dialogue is so dry and boring that it’s a real chore to get through the scene. By extension, I now care less about Park’s situation and what happens next to her, whereas last month I felt that she was one of the more interesting characters that I actually wanted to continue to follow.
Secondly, this issue mainly deals with a sub plot of an ex-crook named Devante. He used to work for Two-Face and now he’s on parole. He was in the previous issue as well, but neither the first nor this second issue has succeeded at making me care about the character. The reason is that Devante isn’t really fleshed out properly—the whole thing feels shallow, like an outline for a crime drama that’s being rushed in a single issue. The comic tries to make its readers feel sympathetic for Devante by showing us a moment with his wife where they’re trying to work through their troubles, but it only takes up a single page before it’s cut short and we move on to the next thing.
Which brings me to my third point. I think it’s a good thing that this comic tries to talk about themes such as racism and bigotry. There are plenty of opportunities here to expand on these topics and have a discussion about them. Yet, we even rush through the scenes where these topics are brought up. Case in point, after just scratching the surface, there’s immediately a hard cut to a scene where we have a bunch of panels of Montoya talking to her fish, for some reason, and the whole discussion about racism is dropped.
There’s a little bit of action in this comic, like when the cops stop a heist and capture the crooks, but most of it happens off-panel. The rest of the comic feels rather disjointed because the scenes don’t transition smoothly and it feels like some plot points aren’t properly wrapped up but just kind of cut short. Basically, it feels like I’m kept at arm’s length from the book and it’s hard for me to engage with the material, and while I really do think that the creative team has the opportunity to provide good social commentary and criticism as well as tell a compelling story, I’m afraid that they are not succeeding at either. At least not in this second issue.
As for the art, I’m not as happy with it as I was last month. While it certainly has a consistent style and a solid approach to how it renders the characters, I feel like it’s a bit too loose at times. Every now and then character proportions aren’t working out, and most of the backgrounds are just bland. Mostly, I just wish that Ridley would give his artist more interesting visuals to render rather than people sitting around or standing by. There just isn’t enough going on visually to keep me engaged.
- Renee Montoya is your favorite character and you follow her every step of the way.
- You are invested in the three protagonists that were introduced in the first issue.
- DC and Gotham should be depressing and dark.
Overall: I wish I could praise this book more, but I just find the execution to be very lackluster. The characters aren’t fleshed out enough for me to really care about them; the plot isn’t strong enough to keep me engaged; and the artwork is a bit too bland for my taste. Therefore I don’t recommend this issue, especially not when there are far better books on stands this week.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.