So, I guess this Underground civilization lurking in the sewers of Gotham (which seems to have started with Anne Nocenti’s Joker’s Daughter story) just won’t go away… awesome.
Batwing #30 picks up following the abduction and (assumed) torture of Tam Fox, leaving her in a persistent vegetative state. The Fox’s other daughter, 7 year-old Tiffany, is now missing, and Batman has joined in the search. Luke has absolutely snapped under the weight of all this news, and he’s followed a trail of clues to the Underground. There he fights a giant fish monster, drone-link slave drivers called ‘Speakerheads’ and befriends a group of victims who promise to lead him to the leader of this Anubis cult. After a few twists all hell breaks loose, and Batwing comes face to face with his greatest enemy.
This issue is a nice rebound from an issue that was definitely more utilitarian than entertaining. We get to see Luke flirting on the edge of crossing Batman’s line, but showing a level of restraint and ingenuity that reminds me of a younger Bruce Wayne or Dick Grayson. There are spots where the internal monologue feels off-track (note to all writers: even when you have a narrator, your job is to show the reader, not just tell them!), but overall the writing holds water.
The art continues to be excellent in this book. Pansica is clearly getting more comfortable with the Batman Beyond-esque suit, and his ancillary characters look just as developed and thought-out as the primary action in every panel.
One of my main issues with this book has to be the slow grind we’re being drug through regarding Luke’s nemesis. Once the school yard buddy of Luke named Russell Tavaroff, he’s now a Venom-fed knock-off of Bane.
**Side note: I’ve seen Tavaroff character referred to as ‘Menace’ on a few websites, but I can’t find any actual reference to it in the comics to save my life. If you can, please let me know in the comments. So, until I get an official name in the cannon, I’m just gonna keep calling him Bobo Bane. That is all.
The origin story we got for Bobo Bane in Batwing’s Zero Year tie-in was pretty good, and I can sympathize with his resentment towards Luke. However, Bobo Bane and Luke haven’t really had a confrontation yet that raises the stakes. There was one fight by the levies five years earlier, then nothing. Palmiotti and Gray can certainly erase my disappointment on this in the next issue (and perhaps he will, considering the final panel), but I finished this issue really wishing he’d just get to Bobo already.
Reviewed by Benjamin Scott