Batman: Gotham Knights #45
writer: Scott Beatty
artists: Roger Robinson and John Floyd
I really miss having Brian Bolland do interior
art. Robinson and Floyd do a competent enough job, but it
just doesn't live up to the promise of that intense shot of
Man-Bat. And in fact, by competent, it really means that yes,
you can tell what's going on, but it's all stiff, vaguely
In a couple of places, Floyd's inking is
so thick that colorist Noelle Giddings makes everyone appear
nude; there's no place for subtlety in between the lines.
Maybe the really high-profile projects have gotten so numerous
that anything less than spectacular is a disappointment.
We finally get the story of the little batboy
that has been lurking in the cave for a while, not that longtime
fans hadn't figured it out anyway. But, like his artists,
Beatty has gone back to being merely competent instead of
able to use it to any real effect.
After being absent from the Batcave almost
as long as Harold, Man-Bat himself gets treated in a rather
ho-hum manner. If memory serves, he was pretty creepy in his
last few appearances. Here, he's just a concerned suburban
dad that happens to be able to turn into a giant bat.
His big emotional confrontation with his
son takes a backseat to Bruce Wayne's finally breaking down
over the loss of Jason Todd. (That's believable - if anybody
would be stuck in Kubler-Ross' denial phase of grief, it would
be Bruce.) Would you believe it? It all leads to a warm and
fuzzy ending that just …isn't Batman.
There are still nice little touches. Alfred
gets to express his grief, too, but in a reserved manner.
Finally, Beatty backs away from making the social worker a
villain; Desidero may be a little misguided, but he has good
intentions. There's also an implication that just maybe, the
Langstrom family will step back in with more regularity, which
would be cool.
The back-up story, by Kimo Temperance and
Nathan Fox takes a literally cute premise (awww) which only
half-way works. Fox's art isn't bad; it's just too busy for
the action he's depicting. Most panels end up a crowded mess.
of Prey #59
writer: Gail Simone
artists: Ed Benes and Alex Lei
In the previous issue, Simone set her heroines
up for a little humbling. Oracle tries to remain calm, trying
to find a way out of the Hobson's choice of revealing Batman's
secret identity or hearing her best friend die. As might be
expected, The Huntress overestimates her own ability to tackle
a crisis situation. And the Canary?
Well, the Canary probably has the coolest
head. But even the coolest head makes mistakes, and as the
first page points out, she made a doozy. Though successfully
taking on the appropriately-named Savant, she forgot one little
detail that could prove fatal.
However, Simone hasn't forgotten a single
detail. Everything comes to a head this issue, and in the
process the writer proves that she absolutely has a handle
on these characters. More importantly, she makes it clear
what binds them all together, especially The Huntress, in
recent years made the outcast of the group.
There's a disarming lightness to their banter
when facing enemies, and as it goes on it's obvious that it's
not for our entertainment. For Dinah especially, quips are
a weapon, a way of keeping male enemies off-balance. If it
doesn't quite work against Savant, that's only because of
his unique inability to keep time straight. It's an interesting
dimension to the book that hopefully will be explored further.
(Or I could be talking out of my butt on this one.)
And on the other hand, the Benes and Lei
team continue to appeal to the lad magazine crowd. Sorry,
it's hot, and Simone's strong storytelling and characterization
make the point that Drew Barrymore wants us to think she did
with Charlie's Angels: that women can have sexuality
without being objects.
What tipped the balance for me was The Huntress
finally offering an explanation for her new outfit. (Oh, sure,
I like the look, but it still bugged me that she'd adopt it.)
Leave it to Simone to believably justify it.
As I feel duty-bound to offer at the end
of a really good arc: if you didn't buy these as individual
issues, get the trade. This is why the WB thought a
TV series was a good idea.
story and art: David Mack
Once again, the beauty of Mack's art cannot
be called into question. Mixing watercolor with photographs
and straightforward ink work, each page is stunning to the
There's a greater emotional dynamic at work
here than the previous issue, too. Maya, a.k.a Echo, returns
to New York City, ready and willing to make more than peace
with Matt Murdock. But of course, much has happened since
she realized that he and Daredevil were the same. Many issues
ago, she put into motion a chain of events that only reached
their culmination at the end of Bendis' last arc. Things cannot
be the same between these almost former lovers.
This change also allows Mack to make her
a little more human. In general, Maya has been portrayed as
practically perfect, within the scope of what she knew and
understood of her own life. Not just in her ability to mimic
physicality (that's just a hotter Taskmaster. Sorry.); the
description of her intellectual abilities got as turgid as
the worst of The Bridges of Madison County.
But for one page, Maya gets to flash jealousy.
Suddenly, she's more believable than she had ever been before
as she digs Matt about The Black Widow. Though it's an uglier
side to her personality, dismissing Matt's new love makes
Maya more sympathetic. All her earlier hurts were too remote;
we get to truly experience this one.
It's still all a bit pretentious and recycling
what we already knew. You need proof? Take a look at the "Previously…"
page. The information pertinent to the last issue takes up
one sentence. All the rest is backstory Mack told before.
Still, it's beautiful. Mack's model for Echo
seems to have changed between issues; she looks a little less
classically hot and a little more dangerous. (I can't help
but think she looks more like Jennifer Lopez, echoing possibilities
for the film Daredevil. Not that I'm encouraging that...)
Slowly, she's changing into a character that
can stand on her own instead of just be in service to a Daredevil
plotline. The creator might serve his character well to move
that process along.