The opening of Batman: The Adventures Continue Season 3 set a high standard for the rest of the series to follow. In many ways it bucked the trend from the past two seasons by abandoning longer arcs for a single, character-focused story. The second issue continued that approach, albeit with less impressive results. Batman: The Adventures Continue Season 3 #3 settles back into more familiar territory by kicking off “Part One” of a multi-part story. It’s set up a number of characters who will be sticking around for the foreseeable future; the question is whether the story is enough to carry the series moving forward.
I praised that first issue for its self-contained nature, however that doesn’t mean that I have anything against longer arcs. Plenty of great stories take place over multiple issues and fully utilize that space. Where it can become a problem is when the stories are decompressed to stretch out a simple story to fill a trade paperback’s length. This issue is certainly more narratively decompressed than its predecessors, but I don’t know if it’s enough to be damning. It still manages to establish the major elements of the story, even if so far it’s only just the introductory exposition.
While that first issue was mostly self-contained, it did end with a cliffhanger of Muscle being recruited into Task Force X (The DCAU’s version of The Suicide Squad). That thread is now the fabric of the series’ larger plot, as Batman must uncover a conspiracy involving Joker’s henchman Straightman and Task Force X’s mission for the US government.
Part of the more drawn out nature of the story means that it can rely on mysteries to keep the reader’s interest, and this issue certainly has its fair share. Everything seems to center around Straightman and why everyone is so interested in him. There’s Task Force X, who claim to just be hunting the Joker but are using that as a cover to go after his henchman specifically. Then there’s the mysterious woman who has been following Batman and Straightman from afar, and finally there’s Straightman’s backstory itself which is revealed one piece at a time in the form of PTSD flashbacks.
From what we’re shown of Straightman’s past, he seems to be a twist on the typical Captain America archetype. He’s a former soldier who, after his commanding officer was injured during a mission, undertook a series of experiments to make him stronger. It’s an interesting angle, and like Superman, Captain America’s Boy Scout reputation makes him a tempting target for “but what if there was an evil version?”
Of course, Straightman isn’t the first “evil Captain America” character. Marvel has Nuke and DC famously has Deathstroke. What sets Straightman apart is that he doesn’t seem to be aware of what’s happening to him, making his story more tragic. However, some of the emotional impact from that situation is lost due to his blank slate personality. It’s sad to see him in a state of dementia-like confusion, but unlike Muscle in the first issue, there’s not a lot of resonance when he just stares blankly.
Ty Templeton returns from his work on the original The Batman Adventures comics to provide art here. In my review for the first issue, I mentioned that Jordan Gibson’s art went above and beyond the typical art you find in tie in books that are mostly focused with matching the show’s style. Templeton’s art is a good example of that typical art. He does a good job, and the art accomplishes its goal of feeling like what you would expect from an adaptation of the show. However, it lacks the dynamism that can really bring the page to life. Templeton provides a satisfactory, if workmanlike style to the series.
- You like big conspiracy plots
- “What if Captain America was Joker’s henchman” sounds like an interesting premise
- You were a fan of previous seasons’ long arcs
Batman: The Adventures Continue Season 3 #3 is an interesting first chapter that manages to introduce a lot story elements, but it’s unclear how well it will follow through. It leans into the story’s mysteries which provide an interesting angle to explore the new characters, and allows their pasts to shape the conflict. The success of the rest of the story hinges on how compelling of a character Straightman will turn out to be.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purposes of this review.