Last month the JLA Watchtower was destroyed and Batman ended up floating around in space. I did not like last month’s issue, because the whole situation was too convoluted and over-the-top. This issue picks up where we left off last time, and I’m praying that the creative team can put out something good, because this series really needs it.
The first half of this issue is about Batman trying to get back to Earth in one piece. Since I disagree with how Batman ended up in space in the first place, I’m already less interested in seeing all of this unfold. But the real problem is the way in which Batman gets back to Earth. We literally see him ripping the oxygen supply out of a JL ship; we see him covering his mouth with his trunks when his oxygen mask breaks; and we even see him crashing down in a field of snow and walking away from the crash like it’s nothing. He casually walks into the Fortress of Solitude and talks about what has just happened to him like it’s an ordinary Tuesday. This entire sequence seems like it should be a big deal, because we’re witnessing our hero barely getting out alive, but the silly jokes and the fact that the whole thing doesn’t seem to affect Batman at all, ruins the impact that the scene could have had. There’s no suspense, there’s no tension, no thrills. It reads more like a creative team trying way too hard to look cool.
That said, the issue got much more fun and interesting during the second half. While I think that the way Batman and Robin ultimately decide to deal with Failsafe is a little uninspired, I do really dig their team work. Jiminez draws cool fight choreography, even though it isn’t exactly sequential. I also like how Jiminez draws each character’s facial expression. There’s a moment where Tim is deeply concerned about the whole Failsafe situation and the outcome, and we see Batman smiling at Tim and telling him that everything will be okay. It’s moments like these where I really get a strong sense of the dynamic between the characters. The fact that Jiminez can show us this through a facial expression in a single panel is testament to Jiminez’s ability to draw great characters.
The ending also genuinely surprised me. I am not going to spoil what it is, but I will say that it’s a twist ending that makes me curious about next month’s issue. However, I have mixed feelings about it. So far Zdarsky’s run has consisted of way too many references to previous runs, and based on the previous issues in this run I am not confident that next issue will be an original followup to this twist ending, because even this ending itself feels like it’s borrowed from a different story. We’ll have to wait and see, though.
The backup story, “I am a Gun,” is a lot more enjoyable for me. This month we get the conclusion to that story, and I think that the creative team did a pretty good job. I find it interesting that Zdarsky manages to write a pretty strong script for this backup story whereas his main story just isn’t cutting it. The tone in this backup is balanced pretty well: there are serious moments and there are more lighthearted moments, all of which blend together and contribute to character development and plot development. Romero’s art reflects this: Zur-En-Arrh continues to be this smiling, Silver Age-y character while the real Bruce is dark and brooding, and yet it’s Zur who’s the most intimidating and threatening because he’s so unhinged.
I think this backup story works well because it’s focused with a limited page count. This finale accomplishes what the story set out to do in the first part; it ties together all the loose ends; and it has a very satisfying ending. The only critique that I have right now is that perhaps some of the themes could have been expanded on a little bit, but “I am a Gun” is easily a better read than the main story.
- Zur-En-Arrh is your favorite character!
- You want to see the Dynamic Duo kicking ass.
- This “Failsafe” arc has gone on long enough and you just want to see how it ends.
Overall: While the main story has a somewhat interesting cliffhanger that actually surprises me, and there are some cool moments with Tim and Bruce, the creative team wastes too much time in the first half. As a result, I don’t enjoy the main story. The backup, on the other hand, was a lot of fun. I’d almost recommend this issue for the backup alone, but then I remember the price tag. Instead, I’m just going to recommend Ram V’s Detective Comics. It’s been excellent and totally worth your time and hard-earned money. Here’s a link to Matina’s review of the annual that came out last week.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.