Hey there X-Maniacs, I've got two Batman related reviews on the agenda for tonight. Yeah I know, usually I do three reviews a post, but I've got a boatload of schoolwork to complete by Friday, and I'm trying to get everything out of the way before those deadlines start nipping at my heels(like they usually do!). Why such a busy week school wise? Well because next week I'm on Spring break(YAY!!!), and I guess my professors want to grade papers or something during their time off... As for me, what are my Spring break plans? Pretty much what my plans are whenever I have any down time, reading comic books and playing video games... Pretty exciting, no? Anyway, since most of you are reading this post to check out the worst comic book reviews on the Internet(I assume), why waste anymore time talking about myself? On to the shoddy reviews!
Batman #697: Writer & Pencils: Tony Daniel.
Last Issue: 6 out of 10.
This issue opens with a scene showing us that the guy wearing the Black Mask is trying to fight off the influence of the Mask, but proves unable to thanks to Fright. From there we head out to the battle for Devil's Square as Batman and his allies begin to carve their way through Mask's soldiers as they try to make their way to his layer. Batman breaks from the rest of his allies and begins to sneak towards Mask's shelter, while his posse keeps the attention of the bad guys. Upon entering Mask's base, Batman makes quick work of Professor Strange and Dr. Death, but is attacked by the Reaper. Batman hits Reaper with a slight antidote that shakes Reaper from his mental domination at the hands of Mask's cronies, and leaves him alone in the room with Dr. Death and Strange, warning Reaper not to kill the two mad scientists, since they may be able to fix up his decaying body. From there Bats narrowly avoids an explosion, and discovers a woman laying near the rubble of it. He goes to check on the woman, but it turns out to be Fright playing possum, and she spits some of her fear gas in his face, disorienting him. Black Mask sneaks up behind the prone Batman, but instead of simply shooting Bats in the back of the head, he has to taunt him first... You know, that's one of my favorite comic book pet peeves right there... Why taunt/alert the hero? Just shoot him in the back of the head and be done with it! No, instead we have to warn him so he can move... Man are villains dumb! OK, rant over. Mask shoots at Bats, but Bats manages to dodge the gunfire and Mask hits Fright instead... Whoops! Mask keeps shooting at Bats, and eventually hits something flammable, causing yet another explosion. Bats rushes Mask and knocks the Black Mask off of him, revealing... Dr. Jeremiah Arkham! So Nagash was right... From there we get a few epilogues, including Arkham now locked up in his own Asylum, several of Gotham's underworld bosses scrambling to grab some of the power left by Mask's defeat, and Catwoman seemingly preparing to train the infinitely annoying Kitrina Falcone as her own little sidekick, Catgirl. This issue ends with Bats taking the Black Mask's well, mask, and putting it in his own little trophy room.
Brace yourselves for what I'm about to type everybody... Are we all suitably braced? Yes? Alright then, here goes... I actually liked this comic! I picked it up having heard some terrible things about it(JT!), but surprisingly it wasn't NEARLY as bad as I thought it was going to be. Sure, it wasn't an instant classic or anything like that, but it was a pretty good comic with a decent enough story. The reveal that Mask was Arkham was... OK I guess. I was pretty sure that Mask was going to turn out to be Hush, especially with the clues Tony laid out last issue(the dual guns, the Aristotle quote, etc)but I guess they were all red herrings. In the end though, I'm glad Hush didn't turn out to be Mask, because I think Hush works better as his own man, not pretending to be some other character. I can't say any of the epilogues had me really excited for the future(Catgirl? Meh. Penguin trying to control Gotham's underworld? Meh.)but who knows, maybe Tony can surprise me again next month.
Score: 7 out of 10.I really don't have anything to say except that this is a cool image...
Batman: Streets of Gotham #10: Writer: Paul Dini. Pencils: Dustin Nguyen.
Last Issue: 8 out of 10.
Finally we're back to the Zsasz storyline that was last visited in issue #7. This comic starts off with Victor Zsasz, who is running an underground fight club where he forces street children to fight to the death, learning from one of his underlings that it's getting tougher to find kids to put in the club. Zsasz warns the underling that he either finds some kids, or he'll be facing off against Zsasz in the ring. From there we learn the origin of the guy in the trench coat(Abuse), who had been brutalizing several Gotham City criminals. It seems Abuse is actually the kid from the Heart of Hush storyline who was injected by the Scarecrow with Venom. It turns out that the kid(Colin)for some reason still has remnants of the Venom in his system, and that he can control it, using it to alter his form from a child to a hulk. Wanting to use his abilities for good, like his hero Batman, Colin took up the Abuse moniker and began wailing on those who would prey on kids. As such, he's been investigating the deaths of the children from Zsasz fight club. However, he isn't the only kid trying to find out who was responsible for the deaths of the street children, Robin(against the wishes of Batman)is also trying to hunt down any leads and winds up running into Colin by the river where many of the dead children's bodies have been washing up. While the two are discussing what each knew, Zsasz underling comes across them, and along with a few henchmen, capture the two children at gunpoint. The goons bring the kids to Zsasz factory and go to lock them in cages, but this only serves to piss Robin off, so he breaks one goon's arm and knocks a few of the other henchmen around. Upon seeing this, Zsasz's underling reports what was occurring by the cages to Zsasz, while Robin knocks Colin out(so he wouldn't be hurt), grabs one of Zsasz's swords and runs around the factory in search of the sick villain. Eventually Robin makes it to the ring, where a large crowd had gathered to watch the fights. Zsasz enters the ring with a knife and challenges Robin, who is of course all too happy to oblige. The two fight, and Zsasz's unpredictable fighting style proves to counter Robin's fighting skills, which leads to this issue concluding with Zsasz preparing to slice the downed Robin's throat.
Not bad, not bad at all. Before I go any further, I will admit that seeing Zsasz own Damian left me pretty pleased... I'm sorry, but I hate the kid! Even though I did enjoy seeing somebody hand the ultra-arrogant Damian his ass for a change, I will say that I was kind of surprised that it was Zsasz who did the honors... It's not like Zsasz was ever known for his fighting prowess, so the fact that he was able to trounce Damian was kind of out of character. Paul did an admirable job of trying to explain that Zsasz's unpredictability was too much for the studied Damian to overcome, but still... Besides that, I will admit to being surprised/impressed by the origin of Abuse. I had completely forgotten about that kid, and when he was giving his origin, I went, “Oh yeah, I remember him!!!”. That's the second bit character Paul has brought back from his Heart of Hush storyline, but this one was WAY better then the lame Dr. Aesop. The next issue seems pretty obvious, with Abuse rushing in to save Damian from his grisly fate, but I'll still be looking forward to it. Plus I REALLY want to see Zsasz get his comeuppance... Man has he been a real bastard during this storyline!
Score: 8 out of 10.Yes I hate Damian, but even I have to admit that this part was pretty cool.