Canada, shouldn't it be called the twenty cent adventure?
Really, how long must we torment our brethren to the north?
price you paid for it, this kick-off to the first major
Bat-crossover in a few years gives you the right run for
the money. Devin Grayson pulls off the delicate balance
of getting new readers up to speed on the status quo in
Gotham City while still letting something actually happen.
largely from the perspective of The Spoiler, Stephanie Brown
(she of the shortest Robin career in history), the War Games
begin with a meeting of all the crime bosses in Gotham showing
up for a meet. They've got two problems. Nobody knows who
actually called the meeting, and everybody has shown up
with extremely dangerous and twitchy bodyguards. It may
just be an excuse for Grayson to work the NKVDemon back
into action, a character named both fearsomely and ridiculously.
The Spoiler ponders how she's going to take down all these
people, Batman has his hands full with a menace possibly
even worse: followers of Kobra. By Act Two, these elements
will probably tie together, but for now, all a reader needs
to know is that they add up to chaos.
twelve cents (twenty cents Canadian), it's not just wall
to wall action, though plenty of that exists. Grayson also
throws in a lot of subtle touches that remind us why she's
one of the best Bat-family writers.
handles the casual thoughtlessness of high society with
a light touch. An awkward exchange between a dowager and
Bruce Wayne isn't just a character moment to remind
the readers of Batman's origin; it also feels real. People
do say these stupid things to each other and then overcompensate.
Stephanie in the lead also proves a canny move. Still burning
with resentment over being fired as Robin, she cannot see
that with every move she makes as The Spoiler she proves
Batman's point. Stephanie is overconfident and still somehow
convinced of invulnerability. She doesn't understand that
there are different kinds of strength, considering taking
down the toughest gangs in the city to be a snap compared
to giving birth. In short, Grayson makes Stephanie a believable
teen-aged girl (ignoring the crimefighter part), giving
her more depth than most of her recent appearances.
Stephanie, it all ends in tears, of course, because we have
three months of this multi-part story. The 12-Cent Adventure
leads directly into Detective Comics #797,
where the storytelling isn't quite as efficiently done.
(But it does have a back-up story explaining what's going
on with The Riddler while hiding from Hush.)
writers of the middle chapters have an unenviable task;
make sure that something happens but not too much,
because not everybody will buy every book involved in the
crossover. A casual reader cannot be made to feel like they
missed a huge chunk if they don't buy Nightwing
or Legends of the Dark Knight. Both of those
books, by the way, come out next week, and if you must only
buy one chapter next week, I can say make it Nightwing.
Grayson writes that one, and at least has the ability to
make her own book's subplots move forward in the context
of the overall story, though I wonder why Dick Grayson sweats
so much in it. LOTDK only inches the major plot along.
War Games looks to appeal to those that like the
gritty, normal crime-fighting aspect of Batman. Most
of the big villains are MIA (so far), I'm guessing to be
picked up again for a continuation of the Hush storyline
in October or November. But two characters in need of strong
definition seem to be on tap for it: The Penguin, positioned
as a slightly comedic Kingpin, and Orpheus, a character
largely forgotten until recent months.
Gotham City ever be the same again? If The 12-Cent Adventure
does its job, probably not. Gotham City will have a much
higher position on the sales charts.