We begin exactly where # 3 left off, no first page of Bruce chatting with an unseen guest, with Bruce trying to deduce whom could be behind the plot to steal museum artifacts donated by Ra's al Ghul. We start right away as Bruce is accusing Riddler of being Rueben Irons and rips the mask off the faux Riddler.
As Batman tries to subdue Irons, he manages to get a shot off that kills the young daughter of the doctor held hostage by the thugs in the first part of this story. The doctor then accuses Batman of “letting” his daughter get shot. Narrator Bruce tells the reader that he was at a point where he was about to lose control, and he does as he pounces upon a taunting and handcuffed Irons. Gordon tries to step in but Bruce is letting out all his hate at the moment and the two carry on an interesting conversation while Bruce is pounding away at Irons. Just when Gordon is about to club Bruce with the back of a rifle, it is announced by paramedics that the girl had just suffered a flesh wound and is okay.
Narrator Bruce says that he still isn’t sure if he was going to end up killing Irons, but Gordon sure did think so at that moment, and Gordon even mutters to himself that something seemed wrong with Batman. Robin at this point tells Gordon he’d like to talk things out with Gordon, earlier Robin had softly said to himself that he cared about letting the murderous psychopath live, and that Bruce had taught him to care.
We then get treated to a scene outside on the docks with Bruce and Talia discussing a “monster” that is behind all of this. Talia assures Bruce that Ra's is not the monster in question and Bruce then takes Talia back to Wayne Manor.
We get a break in the action to later that night, Bruce is getting stitched up in the cave by Alfred, and Dick comes by to check in and heads back upstairs. During this Deadman shows up and emphatically tells Bruce to tell Dick something. Bruce mentions to Alfred that he can feel something is not right with him after Alfred mentions Dick’s concerns about Bruce’s actions. Deadman gets frustrated, like the readers, about Bruce’s not coming out and talking about it. Bruce then gets angry at Alfred for not revealing a dark secret about his past, that he swore to Bruce’s father about, to which Alfred wonders if more had happened that night than Bruce already told him.
So we go back to where we left off at the docks and Talia produces photos of her and Bruce as children at some party held at Wayne Manor. Bruce and Talia come to a realization, but we don’t find it out as Man-Bat swoops in and takes the photo book away from Talia.
Then a faux Batman and Robin come to Bruce’s “rescue.” Bruce wonders who the heck this could be, as well as why Langstrom has gotten bigger. Talia grabs the book and tells Langstrom to tell her father that he had failed. The faux Batman slugs Langstrom and as Bruce asks whom the imposter Batman & Robin are, a giant stingray comes from the water and stings Langstrom, whom plummets into the water.
Aquaman then shows up and says that he had Langstrom killed and berates Bruce for not killing Irons. Bruce then jumps in the water to try and save Langstrom, and that is where we leave off.
A lot happens here, but at the same time it does seem like a lot of nothing. Or at least things that didn’t need entire pages to go through. At least it is mostly linear, but there isn’t any mention of the Harry Tree thread between Bruce and Alfred that started up last issue, and we don’t see the narrator Bruce talking to an unseen guest like the first two issues. I kind of liked that aspect, especially the juggling of stories, but hopefully this center story is worth it.
So far it is getting a bit plodding now, and things seem to be thrown at the reader with not much explanation. Who is this faux Dynamic Duo? Why is Aquaman just killing for no discernible reason? What the heck is up with Bruce that Deadman is so frustrated that Bruce didn’t tell Dick? And just what is going on with the whole Langstrom situation from the first issue? The latter most assuredly is tied into what is “wrong” with Bruce and issue 5 hopefully will give the reader more answers. I’m starting to see some of the points made on the podcast about Adams’ story telling skills not being on the same par as his art skills, which is as superb as ever.
Still an engaging read, but the grade won’t go up too far.
Batman: Odyssey #4:
Reviewed by SteveJRogers