Writer: John Layman
Artist: Jason Fabok
Since Layman and Fabok took over as creative team for this title last issue it has been very good and the quality has stepped up dramatically. Nothing against Tony Daniel as he is a great artist and can be a great writer (Batman: Battle for the Cowl for instance), but he was doing a very poor job on this series which wasn't doing it any favours. Layman and Fabok have however been able to breath new life to this series and it's shaping up to be one of the best Batman series out the now (like it should be).
This issue sees Bruce Wayne narrowly escaping assassination by a member of the Ghost Dragons with the help of none other than the Penguin. Batman later goes looking for Poison Ivy who he believes is behind a bunch of attacks against Cobblepot's businesses. When he finds Ivy she tries manipulating him into helping her to no avail. Batman eventually realises that this is a trap and that someone planned for them to be there.
This was a brilliant issue and by far the best in the series to date. Layman has really done a tremendous job on both this issue and the last and the series is finally looking like it could be great again. He writes both sides of Batman (Batman and Bruce) brilliantly and I liked how he made sure that Bruce didn't look like he could fight well so as not to give away his identity. I also like how he writes the villains as they fell true to character whilst being a challenge to Batman. I did however feel that Damian was a bit tamer this issue than normal which I wasn't too sure if I liked. The main thing I like about Damian is his quick wit, and unpredictability which this issue didn't really show but I did like how there were actual Detective work going on between the pair and how for a change they got along.
The art from Fabrok is simply amazing and although it's not the most prettiest art I have ever seen, it is very good and suits this series perfectly. He draws emotion very well and the way he drew Ivy in this issue was just astonishing. I liked how he did a lot of close up pictures of Ivy as her main feature is her ability to seduce/manipulate men into doing her bidding, which was shown perfectly in this issue. I also love Ivy's New 52 costume which looks a lot more modern. Although this isn't a new thing to the DCU it is new to me as I have only read one issue of the Birds of Prey series and she wasn't in it, so I haven't seen the outfit properly.
I found it a shock seeing Penguin saving Bruce as you wouldn't expect it. It was however make sense and was done very well. I liked how there was a brilliant excuse for Penguin saving Bruce and how before Ogilvy suggested it to him, he was very angry and irate seeing Bruce Wayne's possible death as ruining his night. I am also looking forward to seeing the role Penguin will have in the rest of the story after taking a back seat in this issue.
I also loved Ivy in this issue and am happy to see her as at least a semi-villain again as although it was nice to see her doing good with the Gotham City Sirens or Birds of Prey she is best as a villain and hasn't been one for a while now. I also like the reasoning she has transitioned back into a villain and that as usual it's to do with plants, and that her methods are frowned up, due to her bad intentions. I enjoyed seeing her and trying to manipulate Batman, and she is back to acting exactly like she did when she was last a villain. I also liked how Batman explains how he managed to resist her influence by willpower in the past and how this time he's using a new addition to his Batvisor, which resets to his short term memory if he feels he's loosing control. I always like seeing a new Batman gadget and this one was very cool. I always like when we get to see in his visor as the images showing all the different readings are amazing. This time it was a short demonstration but still very smart looking as well as being cleverly thought out.
I was I also happy to see the introduction of another Bat-villain in this issue and am looking forward to seeing them in the future. I will not spoil who it is but will say they have a connection to Ivy since this issue and is not happy with Batman. I won't speak about the back story as this will reveal the villains identity. I will say it's a story involving Ivy and the other villain.
A brilliant issue and it's nice to see the series finally going in the right direction. I would highly recommend this issue and hope that the series will continue to be as good as the last two issues were.