Fool me once, shame on you DC comics; fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me a third time, well I’ve been buying Batman since the 1970’s so it’s understandable. Fool me again? Our own Apple from TBU Comic Podcast episode 27 likes Judd Winick’s take on the new Caped Crusader, so maybe the fourth time’s the charm.
I went to my comic shop, reluctantly pulled out my wallet and paid the $3.54 Canadian for Batman #690. I ignored the Tony Daniel cover that makes Batman’s abdominal muscles look more like a ninety year old woman’s sagging tricep than a hardened six pack. At least Dick has a fierce expression on his face, so maybe the excessive smiling is in the past.
I can’t begin to tell you how much I want to like this, but no matter how hard I try I can’t. Mark Bagley’s interior art is so uninspiring; it completely removes me from any enjoyment I hoped to get from the action sequences. The scene with Penguin and Black Mask is as close to being visually interesting as the book gets, but for some reason I found myself chuckling instead of cringing. And to my great disappointment, the Batmobile still looks like a bug. Objectively, the last page reveal is well staged. I just wasn’t moved in any way. We all knew Two-Face was going to be in the Cave, and the previews already gave us a look at his costume.
I have been very critical of Winick’s light take on Dick as Batman. To his credit he does an about face and gives us a methodical Batman, seriously analyzing his foes during combat. The only problem with this is that instead of reviewing his take on Dick Grayson so it is more in line with Morrison and Dini; he sits Dick out entirely and instead borrows Chris Yost’s Tim Drake and puts him in the Bat-suit. I obviously don’t mean this literally, but isn’t the, I’m being methodical like Bruce, but I make careless mistakes that I will learn from how Red Robin is characterized? Suavestar from TBU Forums is our resident Red Robin expert and reviewer, so he might have a different opinion on this, but just read Tim’s voicing during his roof top battle in Red Robin #2, or his fight with the Huntsman in the last issue. Then compare that with Winick’s voicing of Dick in this issue. I honestly can’t tell the difference. Judd, if you have to copy another writer because you can’t figure Dick Grayson out on your own, please at least copy another version of Dick Grayson, not the only other Batman Family character with his own title.
At least there is a glimpse of continuity between this and the other Reborn books. The scene of Penguin becoming an underling of Black Mask coincides nicely with the storyline in Streets of Gotham. I just hope it was a flashback, because Penguin’s been working for Black Mask for at least the last two Street issues.
The Two-Face angle has the potential for interesting drama, especially considering the past relationship between him and Nightwing. But hiring a teleporter to get access to the Batcave? I can’t decide if that is smartly quirky or just one of the laziest premises I have ever read.
The next issue marks the end of this arc before the return of Tony Daniel as writer and artist. I’ve always believed in second chances, even third and fourth. This decades long fan of Batman comics feels like I’ve been beaten down, gotten up, and then beaten again, and again, and now again. I want to give up and hang up my cowl. But then I think of Batman and no matter how bad things get, he keeps on fighting. Maybe I am foolish, but I’ll be there next month, wallet in hand, buying issue #691. Who knows, last issue we had Terry McGinnis in the Bat-suit, this time was Tim Drake; maybe next time Winick will surprise us with the return of Bruce Wayne!
Reviewed by Tiggerbrown