Batman #698: Writer: Tony Daniel Artist: Guillem March
Last Issue: 7 out of 10.
Review: This issue starts off with Batman responding to a call from Commissioner Gordon. Bats arrives in an alleyway where Gordon and a few cops are looking over a mutilated corpse. The corpse had been carved up to look like it was Zsasz, but Bats is a bit confused since cutting his victims postmortem had never been Zsasz's MO. While Bats and the cops are checking out the body, the Riddler walks over and begins to shed some light on the case, claiming that it was obviously not the work of Zsasz, but of a copycat, while explaining how he came to this conclusion. Riddler then takes Gordon and Bats to the morgue, where he shows them the body of a man who was killed with some sort of rat poison, which would implicate the Penguin. Bats heads back to his base, where he digs into the murders and discovers another one, a guy who died and had half of his body burnt, ala Two-Face. After some more investigative work, Bats finds that all three men all were convicted of money related crimes, and that all three of them had a connection to Firefly. Bats reports this find to Gordon and the two men head to Arkham Asylum to pay Firefly a visit. Firefly is unsurprisingly not very helpful, which leaves Bats back at square on. Later on, Bats and the GCPD find yet another man killed, this time frozen to death as if Mr. Freeze was responsible. While investigating the scene, the Riddler once again shows up and hands Bats some photos showing the same man at the scene of every crime. Bats looks into the photos and learns that the man was an illusionist named Sebastian Blackspell, and tracks him down to some luxury apartment, where Bats discovers yet another dead body, as well as pictures of all of the crimes Blackspell had committed, including pictures of the dead bodies of Firefly and Riddler, even though they weren't dead yet! While Bats tries to figure out what that means, he spots Blackspell on a nearby rooftop and gives chase, eventually losing him in an apartment building. This issue ends with Bats discovering the Riddler laying outside the apartment building suffering from the effects of Joker's gas, exactly as the photo in Blackspell's apartment showed.
What I Thought: This was a pretty good story, even if the ending is really obvious... I'd be willing to bet almost any amount of money that Blackspell is actually the Riddler, who is returning to his criminal ways. I definitely hope that isn't the case, because I like the Riddler a lot more as a pseudo-good guy then a go nowhere villain, but let's just say I won't be surprised when/if Riddler turns back to the darkside. Other then that, this was definitely a good read, with a fun(if seemingly obvious)mystery, so how can I really complain?
Score: 8 1/2 out of 10.Wow, Gotham's finest are really doing a great job of keeping people from interfering with a crime scene, aren't they?