Batman #126 review | batmannews

I had mixed feelings about the previous issue. While I thought it was definitely entertaining, I also ended up disagreeing with a number of writing choices, and so I wasn’t exactly blown away by it. Of course, with that only being the first issue, the creative team still has plenty of time to develop this story into something great. Is this issue going to be a strong follow-up to last month’s? Let’s
have a look.

One element that I’m not enjoying so far is the inner monologue. There’s a difference between writing strong hard-boiled narration, and hard-boiled narration that turns into parody. I feel the writing sits uncomfortably between those two opposite ends, and if the writer doesn’t reign it in a little, the risk is that it will swing more toward parody, whereas I think this story is intended to have
a more serious tone.

Furthermore, this is a wordy issue. I have never been a fan of showing Batman’s thoughts in “real time,” although in moderation it can work. In the case of this comic, there are entire scenes—especially action scenes—where the inner monologue keeps distracting me from the flow of the art, which disrupts the pacing for me. If the inner monologue is absolutely essential to our understanding of a certain scene, I don’t mind it, but here I think a lot of it could easily be cut. This would also allow the art to breathe more. See, I’d rather have the writer be silent during certain passages, simply trusting the artist to tell the story visually. Jimenez is incredible at crafting sequential action, so why get in the way of that? Of course that’s not to say that there can’t be any dialogue or inner monologue at all but, as it stands, I think there’s too much inner monologue to a point that it feels overwritten.

What’s more, I’m not sure about some of the characterization here, either. For example, early on in the issue, Batman meets Tim, and he basically tells Tim that he needs to be more careful and that he should have seen the guy that shot him in the previous issue, which seems like a very reasonable thing to say if you ask me. While Tim has a valid point, namely that he was saving lives, I don’t like how mad he gets at Batman. It’s one thing if he stands up for himself, but getting this defensive over the whole thing and telling Batman, “You’re not in charge of me. I don’t even wear a bat” right before he takes off seems like a rather childish reaction that I don’t think fits Tim’s character very well. Besides, I straight-up dislike this kind of melodrama, especially when it amounts to absolutely nothing because Tim shows up later in the issue to help Batman like nothing really happened.

That said, the overall structure of the issue works pretty well. The early pages are a bit slow, but before it can get boring, Failsafe attacks out of nowhere. From this point on, it’s nonstop action. Jimenez’s art flows incredibly well from panel to panel and page to page. If you don’t read the text and just follow the art, you’ll notice how dynamic it is, to a point that it’s almost like watching an animated movie. Particularly during the fight scenes, each panel sets up the next in a way that makes sense, and all the cool superhero poses, fight moves, choreography, vehicles and explosions make this issue a visual delight.

Of course not all the credit goes out to Jimenez; I’m not sure if Zdarsky writes full script, but I’m sure that he had a hand in choreographing this issue. Being an artist himself, he understands what Jimenez’s strengths are and he plays into them, allowing Jimenez to shine. Even though I’ve criticized some of the text, I think that Zdarsky and Jimenez make a great team as there’s some real synergy going on here!

I’m also a fan of how Failsafe moves, fights, runs, jumps—all of it. I even like the character’s design a lot. I’ve seen some people criticizing him for looking too much like a standard murder robot without anything to set him apart from other similar characters. But I think that a relatively simple design like this, especially when you see it in action in these panels, works to the story’s and the
artist’s advantage. Jimenez has clearly thought the whole thing through and makes it work. Failsafe, to me, isn’t intimidating in the way that he looks, but in the way that he operates. He won’t stop for anything, constantly putting pressure on our heroes, slowly. It remains to be seen how this character will develop over the course of the story, but so far I’m digging it.

Yet there are two things that I want to criticize in the art. The first is that, sometimes, characters do pretty dumb things in this fight. For example, in a panel where Nightwing attacks Failsafe, he lifts both his escrima sticks behind his head from him, leaving himself completely open for an attack. At that point he’s just asking to get beat up, which is what happens. Nobody, let alone a trained and experienced warrior like Nightwing, would fight like this.

Secondly, the majority of the fight takes place in the streets of Gotham. While we do see some cars and a few people in the background early on, none of these elements are visible anymore throughout the rest of the fight: it’s just the Bats versus Failsafe, which makes the city feel like an empty canvas/backdrop. Here is an excellent opportunity to create stakes by putting civilians in
danger, so the Bat Family has to both protect and fight at the same time. However, as it stands, it’s really just another superhero beat-down. It’s heaps of fun, don’t get me wrong, but it’s fairly straightforward and, even though Failsafe is a formidable opponent, I don’t feel there is really anything at stake here yet. I’m not very interested in seeing the Bat Family or Batman himself get beat up, only for them to get back up and strike back twice as hard, because I don’t consider posing a threat to the heroes themselves as effective writing anymore. The threat needs to be directed toward something that the heroes care about. Hopefully we’ll see more of that in the next issue.

The backup feature picks up where last month’s left off. We follow Selina on her mission to track down Penguin’s heirs. The premise of this story doesn’t particularly excite me and, like I said last month, there’s nothing here that makes me want to recommend this story yet. But at the same time there’s also nothing here that makes me want to tell people to stay away.

The art is solid; Ortega draws a cool action scene and all of the characters are rendered well. The colors are not entirely my cup of tea because they’re a little bit too shiny for me, which always makes me feel like they’re made of plastic, but I do appreciate how well all the colors match and blend together.

The Executioner is a well-written character; he has a very distinct voice and mannerisms that I’m enjoying. Selina herself is written as a confident and independent woman and her voice de ella is authentic to her character de ella. I like that, while most of this is concerned with the Penguin’s children, she raises concern for the mothers, who would just be forgotten otherwise, because nobody seems to care.

All in all, it’s not a bad backup by any means and it does what a backup should do: provide a bit of extra story without overshadowing the main feature. While I’m not fully onboard with this story yet, I’m curious to see how this continues next month—it definitely has the potential to become a good Catwoman story.

Recommendedif:

  • Non-stop action! Say no more!
  • You’ve been wanting to see Failsafe in action.
  • Jimenez’s fantastic art is the main draw for you.
  • Catwoman is one of your favorite characters.

Overall

This is an exciting, action-packed comic. The art is really good throughout, but I think the book is a little overwritten at times. Failsafe is a cool character and I’m very curious to see where this is going. For now I recommend this comic—it’s very fun, even if it isn’t perfect in terms of writing and execution.

SCORE: 7/10

Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this
review.


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