Overview: In Batman: Urban Legends #14, Batman teams up with Zatanna and the Question, the Birds of Prey track down a new villain, and Ace the Bat-Hound continues his fight against Mr. Tarkov.
Editor’s Note: Due to the anthology nature of this collection, we will feature a synopsis and analysis for each short story, rather than breaking up the synopsis and analysis. Spoilers are sure to be revealed.
Story #1: Batman and Zatanna in “Bound to Our Will” Part 4 by writer Vita Ayala and artist Nikola Čižmešija
Synopsis: The first story in Batman: Urban Legends #14 begins with a series of flashbacks beginning in ancient Egypt shows the power behind Celeste. Flash forward to Batman’s safehouse, and Zatanna is enraged at the attack on John Constantine. Batman and Zatanna battle Celeste and Eos but struggle with the portal still open. Batman travels to the “in-between” and finds Constantine. Zatanna tries to help with technology. Batman and Constantine visit ancient Rome in an effort to unravel how to defeat Celeste and Eos.
Analysis: I really dislike this story. It’s confusing, uninteresting, and trite. The characters are thin, almost paper cutouts and the plot manages to be both befuddling and boring (as in, I do not really follow what is going on and I find myself caring very little that I am struggling to follow it). Writer Ayala has completely abandoned any effort to explore the relationship between Batman and Zatanna, which now seems ancillary to the actual events of the arc. Admittedly, that relationship was not deftly handled in the first two parts of the story, so perhaps the absence of emotional resonance between the protagonists is on balance a positive development. However, that possibility itself illustrates some of the serious structural problems with the narrative, which again is undermined further by the six-part format. Batman editors Jessica Chen, Dave Wielgosz, and Ben Abernathy really need to abandon this format for Urban Legends, as the book is struggling in my view, and the six-part format is a significant part of the problem.
Story #2: Batman and the Question in “Right Answer, Wrong Question” by writer Ryan Cady and artists Giuseppe Camuncoli and Cam Smith
Synopsis: The second story in Batman: Urban Legends #14 begins years ago, as The Question is investigating Bruce Wayne for proof of corruption. He argues with Batman, who tells the Question to meet him at Waynetech Distribution Center the following night. They penetrate the facility and begin accessing digital records. The Question grows suspicious of Batman and attacks him. Batman neutralizes the Question and removes his cowl to show that he is Bruce Wayne. Together, they identify and immobilize some corrupt guards. The Question is satisfied that both Batman and Bruce Wayne are trustworthy.
Analysis: This compact one-shot is modest in scope and aims. It, therefore, delivers, although I find it quite difficult to believe that Batman would so readily reveal his alter ego to satisfy the Question. That said, Camuncoli’s art is vibrant and well-suited for the detective genre in which the story is situated.
Story #3: Birds of Prey “Memory Lane” Part 1 by writer Che Grayson and artist Serg Acuña
Synopsis: The next story in Batman: Urban Legends #14 has Richard Roe pitching the new app “Memory Lane” to a rapturous audience. Elsewhere in Gotham, Lady Shiva and Katana argue about their assignment. Ghost arrives, and they banter until the TV switches on and bids them “hello.” Miracle Molly appears on the screen and apologizes for snooping. She then swoops in on her glider. Lady Shiva informs them their task is to track down Noah Grove, who is able to trap people in “memory loops” for years. Noah escaped Arkham Asylum years ago, and they have not been seen since. Miracle Molly locates Grove, and they set off to retrieve him.
Outside of an old cabin, Shiva is attacked by Orphan, but it turns out to be a memory. They enter and realize that the cabin is the old vacation home of Amadeus Arkham.
Analysis: I am not sure this is truly a Birds of Prey story, but I am excited to see Miracle Molly again, as the character was one of the true highlights of Fear State. I also appreciate seeing Outsider Katana in this narrative, and Lady Shiva is an important “minor” character for a number of reasons. The three-part story should enable the creative team to make the best of the generally charismatic (yes, even Katana) cast, and I appreciate how quickly the action gets going.
Story #4: Ace the Bat-Hound in “Hounded” Part 4 by writer Mark Russell and artist Karl Mostert
Synopsis: The final story in Batman: Urban Legends #14 sees a prostrate Batman arrive at Mr. Tarkov’s warehouse in preparation for his auction. A crowd that includes a number of Rogues (including Two-Face, Penguin, Killer Croc, Riddler, Calendar Man, Bane, Joker, Harley Quinn, Ventriloquist, and Mr. Freeze, among others) watches two men battle in a cage match. In the basement at Club Siberia, Ace and company examine their surroundings. They proceed outside but are accosted by workers from the pet cemetery.
Ace and friends make a good account of themselves, but the bear is tranquilized and bundled into a waiting van. Mr. Tarkov and the crowd watch as the men battle to the death. Tarkov tells another story allegedly written by Tolstoy.
Analysis: This story is really starting to drag and has no business being formatted for six parts. Readers are subjected to another lengthy exposition of a Tolstoy story with a heavy dose of moralizing from Mr. Tarkov, which was of little use in its first go-around.
Editor’s Note: DC Comics provided TBU with a copy of this comic for review purposes. You can find this comic and help support TBU in the process by purchasing this issue digitally on Comixology through Amazon or a physical copy of the title through Things From Another World.