After appearing for only a single frame free of dialog in book two, Batman returns for a much larger role in “First Wave” number three.
For many of us that read the Batman titles these days we’ve had to adjust to the non-linear storylines that have become so popular. From Grant Morrison’s “Batman & Robin” series to “Batman-Odyssey” by Neal Adams. These storylines are convoluted and often jump back and forth through the narrative to various points in time.
Brain Azzarello (with pencils from Rags Morales with Rick Bryant, Nei Ruffino and Bob Almond doing color and inks) has put his own spin on the elaborate narrative by introducing a myriad of deeply rich and historically significant characters from the golden age of comics. Although these characters have been ripped from the pages of yesteryear (Batman, with his original reliance on guns) we see them positioned in a contemporary setting which gives them a fresh spin despite their early origins.
First let’s play a little catch up as to what is going on. Batman has got himself tangled up in the mysterious return of Clark Savage Sr., the father of the Man of Bronze, Doc Savage. The only problem is that Clark senior is supposed to be dead. Doc Savage himself, with the aid of The Spirit, is investigating the disappearance of Daddy Savages body and has run afoul of the Blackhawks, various crime syndicates and a semi trustworthy police force.
If you are thinking that is a lot. You’re right, it is. Azzarello hasn’t even got to the main plot yet and it’s a mystery as to where all this is going and how all these players are going to be brought together. But it is evident that Batman is going to take the lead as he travels to South America based on a tip from (a shape-shifting?) Clark Savage Sr.
As for the characterization of Batman himself in this story I like how Azzarello has put his own stamp on the Bruce Wayne/Batman figure. Batman still relies on guns, not to kill, but to distract and defend. He’s a newcomer to the crime fighting scene but is a quick learner that takes his lumps in the process. His Bruce Wayne overtly plays the insouciant playboy that is bored with the lifestyle and often lounges about in a bath robe. Publicly, he is a party boy that is obnoxious and is known to drink too much at functions. Privately, his character is fleshed out by his interplay with his butler (and friend), Alfred. The conversation between the two reveals Wayne as sharp witted, intensely curious, if not a little lazy, and actually playful as he engages Alfred in a little verbal fencing.
Importantly, he doesn’t carry the bitter weight and anger wrought of endless years of crime fighting and revenge.
The story continues as Bruce/the Bats is off to Hidalgo to meet up with an old “friend” Anton Colossi and his mechanical bodyguard, Ferrios. That’s right, a robot that is “larger than life, and crueler than death”. Awesome.
I’m giving my rating based on the story coming together and showing much, much more promise.
First Wave #3:
Reviewed by Dark Knight Dave