Writers: Bill Willingham, Andersen Gabrych, Bruce Jones & Will Pfeifer
Artists: Pete Woods, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Eddy Barrows, Ron Randall & Tom Derenick
I'm back to doing my Batman reviews, and I still plan on reviewing the remaining key Batman stories up until the start of the New 52. This is also my eighth review on the series with my last review being on Batman: Under The Red Hood.
It's one year since Gotham City's Gang War, and Arturo Rodriguez is reporting new information surrounding Stephanie Brown's death. There is also someone out to give Batman a bad name, going around dressed as him, committing terrible crimes.
This was a fantastic story, and a terrific follow-up to the War Games crossover. The main writers on this book would be Bill Willingham, and Andersen Gabrych, with Bruce Jones, and Will Pfeifer also working on short stories at the start of the book. Both Willingham, and Gabrych did a terrific job of continuing from where War Games left off, as although a year has past, it felt very natural, having the exact same feel as it. The storyline itself was also very exciting, and dramatic, having a lot of suspense, and mystery around it. I also loved seeing Batman doing some detective work, as although it's not uncommon, it doesn't happen too regularly, and at the time due to having Oracle (Barbara Gordon) he didn't need to be a detective as much, so it was nice to see this again. The earlier stories in this book were also interesting, especially "Taking Sides" which was also written by Gabrych, but they were overshadowed by the main story.
The main artwork on this story would be shared by Pete Woods, and Giuseppe Camuncoli, with Eddy Barrows, Ron Randall, and Tom Derenick also working on the short stories at the start of the book. I felt that both Woods, and Camuncoli's art was amazing, but this time round I much preferred Camuncoli's art, as although I preferred Wood's art on Batman: War Games Act One: Outbreak, Camuncoli's art much suits Batman as a character and was only slight poorer that Woods during War Games due to his art focusing on Robin (Tim Drake). Both artists put a tremendous amount of detail into their artwork, and I really enjoyed how they managed to give the dark, and brooding tone to the Dark Knight (especially Camuncoli). I was however not a fan of Wood's Joker, and also felt that besides Batman that the characters expressions looked a bit awkward in Camuncoli's art, but besides that both were brilliant.
The main story in this book was remembering the gang war that happened throughout War Games, with it being one year since all that carnage. I personally really enjoyed War Games, with it being one of the better Batman crossover events, so the fact that they made a follow-up to it was amazing. I especially enjoyed how they went on to talk about Stephanie Brown more, as this would be the first sign that her death has had an affect on people. I also enjoyed seeing Arturo Rodriguez, but found his complete change of attitude strange, even though it was apparent that his views on Batman were different.
There would be a key question made throughout this story, and that was whether it's right for Batman to have all these children fighting crime in his name? Now in the real world this would be a simple no, but due to it being Batman's world things are different. To be fair he shouldn't have kids fighting alongside him, especially considering how many of them have died (three since Damian Wayne died). I do however feel that for his character he needs these children working with him, as having grew up with no parents, he feels the need to be a father figure, and feels the affect of every death. It is still a sticky question however, but due to it ultimately being fiction it doesn't really matter as long as we get great comics out of it (which we do).
A familiar villain from War Games would feature in this story, with the Black Mask once again making life difficult for Batman. This Black Mask was such a great villain for Batman, and I loved how he managed to get involved in so many stories. I also loved his character, and this story would continue to show it perfectly, showing how he's both power hungry, whilst deep down a bit of a coward. I also loved seeing Black Mask battle Batman in this story, and especially considering the amazing dialogue that was written, with the brilliant references to War Games.
Black Mask wasn't the only villain in this, as Batman's greatest nemesis the Joker would also appear, having a mysterious objective. It's always nice to see Joker, and especially when he's used properly. Now this may not go down as one of Joker's greatest appearance, but I actually rather liked seeing him take a back seat, especially considering he still had a lot of attention, as most writers that add him without making him the main villain neglect him, which ultimately ruins his characteristic in the story. The witty dialogue from Joker was also amazing, and when his real agenda was revealed I was so excited, with it adding a lot more tone, and drama to that part of the story.
A brilliant story, and a fantastic follow-on from the outstanding War Games crossover. This showed just how much War Games affected the Batverse, and how everyone is dealing with it one year later. It was however still a very unique story, not just using the event of War Games for the sake of it, being very deep, and independent. Due to all this I'd easily recommend this to anyone, especially if you've read War Games, and if not I'd also recommend reading that as well.
The next Batman book I'll be reviewing will be Batman: Face the Face.