Just in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last 75 years, Batman is one of the most popular superheroes in the history of the genre, and arguably DC Comics’ greatest hero. I’m going to assume you haven’t lived under a rock though. Simply put, only one superhero is more popular on the entire planet (and he’s a web-slinging, smart aleck owned by the competition), and thanks to that, he’s been spun off into multiple books, has an entire family of character built around him, and appears as a member of multiple teams.
In the Bat-Cave, we’re going to talk about some of those books, and give you as much of an overview as possible of what’s going on in the Bat-Universe. So strap in and welcome to the Bat-Cave!
Batman #21-22, The Flash #21- “The Button” by Tom King, Joshua Williamson, Jason Fabok, Howard Porter and team
Let’s get the big one out of the way. Even though the conclusion of the Button is yet to come, the first three parts have already been one of the best stories put out in DC’s Rebirth era. The first issue (Batman #21) took place over the span of about five minutes (with the majority of it only taking sixty seconds). Batman notices the smiley face button he found embedded in the wall of the cave reacts to Psycho Pirate’s mask, and asks the Flash to come assist him in looking into it. Then the Reverse Flash arrives, beats Batman within an inch of his life, then vanishes for an instant, reappearing as a strange radiation kills him.
The second part of the story (Flash #21) shows the Flash piecing together the crime scene as Batman recovers, then the duo using the cosmic treadmill to try to investigate some of these new developments. As the treadmill begins to work, they begin to see events that both did and didn’t happen. They realize something sinister may be at work before they arrive somewhere familiar… the Bat-Cave! And not just any Bat-Cave, as Thomas Wayne, Batman of the Flashpoint appears behind them.
And finally in the most recent part of the story (Batman #22), Bruce Wayne teams up with Thomas Wayne as Flash realizes something is keeping the Flashpoint universe together. But that something realizes that Barry and Bruce have begun to put pieces together, and releases the hold he has on Flashpoint and allows it to crumble away into nothingness. Very familiar, all-white nothingness. Then as they race away, a familiar yellow and red figure catches up to them, Eobard Thawne, alive and well.
This story has been fantastic so far. I really hope to see Fabok on something regular once again soon, because his work on the two Batman issues were stellar. Porter’s work on the Flash was incredible, and it feels like he hasn’t missed a beat since he work on the title over a decade ago. All three issues were beautifully illustrated.
King and Williamson are in perfect lockstep. Both series put appropriate emphasis on their protagonist, while the other hero was a perfect co-star. WIlliamson also blended in perfectly with King’s style as he scripted Batman #22. The emotional beats in each issue were so well done too. Batman’s normal facade has cracked slightly, leaving Barry to be the more grounded hero in this arc. Bruce is acting much more emotional than normal, and that has lead to some great moments, especially in the team-up with his father.
It’s a storyline you can’t miss if a fan of these characters, and you won’t regret a second of it.
Detective Comics #955-956 By James Tynion, Marcio Takara, and Marcello Maiolo
I missed the first half of this storyline. I am not happy with myself that I did. Frankly, it’s incredible that we have this book, Batman and All-Star all running concurrently. These are incredible comics, and Tynion just continues to get better and better on this title. He’s done a fantastic job at building up these characters month after month, and in this storyline, he’s fully restored the wicked bad-assery of Cassandra Cain to a glory I don’t think she’s seen since Infinite Crisis. This is simply a great comic, and Tynion deserves so much credit for putting Detective back on the A-list.
These two issues are simple- the Bat-Family (they need a team name James!!!) struggle to defeat Lady Shiva and the League of Shadows before she detonates a nuke that will cause a massive quake that will basically destroy all of Gotham. Get all that? Good.
The art on Detective has been uniformly great, and these issues are no exception. Marcio Takara’s line is very sketchy (reminding me of Riley Rossimo’s work during the Night of the Monster Men crossover), but it’s hyper-kinetic, and easy to follow. It made for an adrenaline rush of two issues, with the depiction of Cass being a particular highlight.
If you are behind, or haven’t read Detective yet, this is a brilliant storyline to catch up on.
All-Star Batman #9 By Scott Snyder and Jock
Dear Scott Snyder- is there any way that you and Jock can do both Wytches and Batman every month? Signed, Tony.
Batman races to stop the villain orchestrating the catastrophe that’s about to befall millions of Americans, if the contagion he’s been battling the last few issues spreads. As he races through Washington DC, he finds himself face to face with the mastermind, Ra’s al Ghul.
The conclusion of Snyder’s second storyline was just a gorgeous book. Ra’s al Ghul is always a delight to see, and Snyder’s words combined with Jock’s depiction of the terrorist just set him to another level. Snyder has also adapted the story wonderfully, taking it from a zombie story (the Mr. Freeze chapter), a character piece (Poison Ivy), psychological horror (Mad Hatter), to this issue’s spy thriller. My only disappointment is that the Ra’s reveal would have been so much cooler if the variant covers hadn’t spoiled it months ago. Oh well, I guess that’s how comics work sometimes.
Batwoman #2 By Marguerite Bennett, James Tynion, Steve Epting and Jeromy Cox:
Seeing this creative team announced for Batwoman was exciting from the get-go, and three issues in, they’ve proven that they were the right choice.
After learning a little more about Kate’s lost year (and the apparent den of iniquity that she lived in for that year), we pick up with Kate trying to figure out what happened to her dead friend. She’s soon attacked by an assassin called Knife, who she knew from the lost year. This turns into a great fight between the two women, which Kate actually nearly loses.
Bennett really does a fabulous job inside Kate’s head. Though the narration mirrors Bruce Wayne’s in the Batman books, there’s something more raw and emotional to it. The conspiracy plot that Bennett and Tynion have developed is a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to see the plot unravel.
Batgirl #10 By Hope Larson and Chris Wildgoose
I missed the first arc of Larson’s run on Batgirl, but I’ve generally enjoyed this second arc. Larson has captured the feel of the initial Batgirl of Burnside story really well. I’m not thrilled with the change in Babs’ major (going from badass computer genius to librarian seems like a step backwards), but otherwise, this is a fun story.
Babs has returned to Burnside to find the district’s gentrification has gone even further, and at its center is Ethan Cobblepot. Yes, Cobblepot. Yes, THAT Cobblepot. The story arc title of The Son of Penguin is very literal. This issue starts with Penguin petitioning Batgirl for her help, after he thinks Ethan (who was in Burnside the last few hours) started a riot at the Iceberg lounge. Shortly afterwards, Babs is dumped by Ethan and she confides in Dick Grayson about it. This leads to a jealousy fueled accident and a realization that Ethan truly is a villain, and he’s using data and the “internet of things” to stalk her and dominate Burnside.
Like I said, I’ve really enjoyed this arc. I hope Larson strikes a balance between computer genius and librarian for Babs, because that’s the only low point of the story. Wildgoose has been doing a great job on art as well, with a style that reminds me a lot of the late Mike Weiringo (and his run on Robin).
If you’re a lapsed Batgirl reader, pick the book back up. It’s a lot of fun, and a great thematic continuation of of the Burnside era.
And that’s the Bat-Cave for this month! Hopefully this will be a regular feature, and spotlight the full range of Bat-titles. So until next time, same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!