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@BatWatcher Reviews: @DCComics Batgirl #19, Batman #19, Batman and Red Robin #19, Batwoman #19


Here are today's "Guest Reviews" by Jeremy Sims from Batwatch. Included are DC's; Batgirl #19, Batman #19, Batman and Red Robin #19, & Batwoman #19. I have also added my rating after each review. If you have any questions about my rating or want to discuss anything just leave me a comment.


See the Review Rating Overview page for more information on how I rate each comic.



Batgirl #19 - A Blade From the Shadows


Will a battle of sibling rivalry lead to a death in the family?


Preview



To Stop Her Brother... Must She Commit the Ultimate Crime?

Ah, Batgirl. I'm not sure if I love you or hate you. I think it is a wee bit of both. For the past year, I've more or less liked Simone's (former writer of Birds of Prey and current writer of Batgirl and Vertigo's Time Warp) spin on Batgirl's stories, but Babs as a character seems like an unlikable chick with nothing particularly human to identify with except fear, sadness, self-doubt and self-pity. We did see Batgirl woman up at the end of Death of the Family, but I'm not sure if her more assertive nature at the end of DoTF is going to stick or if we are going to see more of the heroine who cannot make up her mind who she is and what she represents.

This issue might be a big one. The cover teases the idea that Babs might kill James Jr. Also, we might see one of the most mainstream introductions of a transsexual character in this issue through Babs' roommate, Alysia. If nothing else, we should finally see Babs come face to face with her brother in a battle that has been teased for what seems like forever.

Does Gail Simone make a triumphant return in Batgirl #19, or has this story been building up for so long only to fizzle out at the end?

In this issue, Barbara patches things up with Alysia before taking on James Jr.

Contrived

That's the word for it. Almost everything in this issue is just incredibly, amazingly contrived. The extent of it is so pervasive that I do not even know where to start. Everything in this issue seems to happen unnaturally as if the only reason certain events take place is to arrive at a certain destination as opposed to the story naturally progressing where logic would dictate. Contrived.

Read the rest of Jeremy Sims' review on Batwatch

My Rating


Cover & Solicit - 4/5
Art, Colors & Inking - 4/5
Layout & Flow - 5/5
Story - 4/5
Verdict - 4.1



Batman #19 - Nowhere Man, Part 1 of 2; Ghost Lights, Part 1 of 2


Who would cause Bruce Wayne to use a gun?


Preview



Bruce Wayne's Greatest Foe... Jim Gordon?


Batman is in a pretty good place right now in terms of writing. The Batman veteran Grant Morrison(former writer of Rebellion's 2000AD and Batman and current writer of Batman, Incorporated and Action Comics) has been finishing up his run on Batman, Incorporated, and it continues to thrill with a new twist around every corner, John Layman (former writer of Image's Chew and current writer of Detective Comics) has been tearing it up on Detective Comics delivering some great one shot adventures which still manage to build together to a longer, more complicated story, and even Greg Hurwitz (former writer of Vengeance of the Moon Knight and Penguin: Pride and Prejudice and current writer of The Dark Knight) has been doing solid work on The Dark Knight in his current origin story of The Mad Hatter. Despite all this, Scott Snyder's (former writer for Detective Comics and current writer of Batman, Talon, Vertigo's American Vampire, and Swamp Thing) Batman is still the fan favorite as it woos readers with stories which are simultaneously accessible to new readers while having plenty of homages and depth for old school fans. I can pick apart some of Snyder's issues in terms of specific plot details, but there is little doubt that Snyder understands one of the fundamentals of the comic book industry; either make it entertaining, or pack your bags and go home.

Last issue was a mixed bag in terms of quality. I think that if I could separate past Batman stories from Batman #18, then I would have loved it for it was a well told tale, but it thematically echoed “A Lonely Place of Dying” so clearly that I could not shake the feeling that it was a work standing on previous creative team's shoulders. Other people had an even more negative view of the comic because of a strong dislike of Harper Row. Personally, I rather enjoy the character for her ability to cut through Bruce's bullcrap, but many seem to feel she is annoying, unneeded, redundant, useless, and insulting to the memory of Damian. However, I enjoy her, and I look forward to seeing how Harper evolves as a character.

Does this issue of Batman deliver a stellar story which everyone can agree is excellent, or will this be yet another issue which divides readers into lovers and haters?

In this issue, Bruce Wayne goes on a crime spree while Batman continues to mourn the loss of Damian.

Tension and Resolution

A huge aspect of telling stories is the balance between tension and resolution. The writer has to build up conflicts, suspense, drama, and then resolve it in a way that keeps readers on their toes. In comics, it is perhaps even more important to have this down because based on the short amount of space given to tell the story, narratives are distilled into their most basic forms. In other words, you have to deal with the tension and release very quickly.

The introduction of this issue did a fantastic job building up tension for the reader. Despite the cover, I was still surprised to turn the page to see it was Bruce Wayne creating such carnage and mayhem. The rest of this scene definitely sells the idea that there is a new player in town either with mind controlling, cellular level shape shifting, or cloning power, and the actions of Bruce in these pages paint the picture of someone cavalier in his actions, yet with a definite f unclear motivation. In brief, this issue nailed the tension.

Read the rest of Jeremy Sims' review on Batwatch

My Rating


Cover & Solicit - 4/5
Art, Colors & Inking - 4/5
Layout & Flow - 5/5
Story - 4/5
Verdict - 4.1



Batman and Robin #19 - Denial


On the darkest of nights, who is the one person Batman meets that could change his life forever?


Preview



Is the Dark Knight's New Partner... Carrie Kelley?!


I have to say that the announcement that Carrie Kelly would be joining the DCNU is a shock I still have not managed to fully process. Out of all the oddball characters who are worthy of a possible starring role in the DCU, Carrie is somewhere at the very, very bottom of the list. I mean, she was okay in The Dark Knight Returns and DK2, but...making her the new Robin in mainstream comics? I can't say I ever saw that one coming. Of course, we do not actually know if Carrie will be the new Robin, but DC has definitely implied that this is the case.

We also have Batman and...'s rolling list of guest appearances which is kind of cool. I actually think it would be fun if Batman and... continued to be a team up book for Batman, but it seems likely we will be seeing Carrie or some other character fill the pixie boots sooner rather than later. Still, this issue promises that my ex-favorite Robin will be joining the Dark Knight, and these two character have had basically no significant interaction in well over a year, so could it be that a Peter J. Tomasi (former editor of Hitman and current writer for Batman and... and Green Lantern Corps) can finally make the DCNU Red Robin a likable character? I have to say, I'm not holding my breath.

Does Batman and... #19 gives us two great Robins for the price of one, or is DC trying to sell us a bill of goods?

In this issue, Bruce Wayne meets Carrie Kelly before kidnapping Frankenstein and attempting to use his life force to resurrect Damian.

Carrie Kelly

If the intention of this issue was to convince me to like Carrie Kelly, it failed on several fronts. First up, Carrie is a college student apparently interested in acting and directing, and my experience with actors and directors is that they tend to be stuck up, self-righteous, pretentious snobs. I'm sure there are exceptions, but nothing in this issue particularly convinces me that Carrie will be the exception to this rule. On the first page, Carrie throws a pizza in a guy's face for hitting on her which seems like a bit of an overreaction to me. Yeah, I guess the guys were being a tad inappropriate, and there are many things that an obnoxious guy could say which would justify this action, but the phrases, “Hey baby! I love redheads,” and “Want to share your pizza with me,” do not qualify.

Beyond that, we don't really see too much about Carrie that is particularly insightful. She pays her bills on time, so she is responsible. She has the decency to ask if the music was too loud when Bruce knocks on her door, so she is not completely inconsiderate. She can quote Shakespeare from memory, so that implies some intelligence though quoting it to herself in her car goes back to my, “she is pretentious” theory, but perhaps I am being too harsh.

Read the rest of Jeremy Sims' review on Batwatch

My Rating


Cover & Solicit - 4/5
Art, Colors & Inking - 4/5
Layout & Flow - 5/5
Story - 4/5
Verdict - 4.1


Batwoman #19 - This Blood is Thick: Wounds


What is the shocking family revelation that can turn Batwoman's world upside down?


Preview



A Table of Blood... And Family Secrets


I'm not really in the mood for much of a preamble on this one. Batwoman has been exceptionally good with never a bad issue, and I love good comics, so I don't really want to waste time babbling about what might be coming; I just want to read it. However, I will restrain myself to speak briefly about how excited I am.

I was nervous about the series losing J.H. Williams III (former artist for Promethea, Detective Comics, artist for Batwoman, writer for Legends of the Dark Knight and cover artist for Titans and current writer for Batwoman) on the art because his work is so phenomenal, but I've got to give major props to artist Trevor McCarthy (former penciler for Nightwing and Batwoman and cover artist for Birds of Prey and current artist for Batwoman) for his work because, though I still feel Williams absence, it's a big comfort knowing that I'm not losing a great artist for a bad artist but rather I'm losing a great artist for another great artist who just is not quite as accomplished yet as Williams III. (I hope that came off as a compliment, Trevor. It was meant as one) The current arc has not disappointed continuing to bring more supernatural goodness, mystery, intrigue, awesome fight scenes, and a smattering of personal drama while adding a brewing conflict between Batwoman, Hawkfire, Batman, The DEO, and Mr. Kane. Even that is not touching the resurrection of Alice and the revelation of Mr. Bones' relation to Kate, and both these secrets seemed primed for revelation based on the cover of this issue. I cannot be sure this issue will deliver on everything I hope, but it's certainly poised on the edge of greatness.

Does Batwoman #19 leap off that edge of greatness and swing across the rooftops of Gotham, or has the narrative cable for this story been stretched too thin and do we find Kate Kane's crumpled body at the bottom of Gotham's Gothic chasms?

Taking Form from the Shadows

It appears that this arc is beginning to take form. I think I have the basic idea of what the main points of conflicts will be now, and I'll elaborate on that here in a minute.

Whereas I said the last issue would be a great jumping on point for somebody wanting to give this series a try, I have to say the exact opposite of this issue because it is nothing but plot development from previous plot points. I love it when books have a good sense of their history and identity, and Batwoman seems more involved in continuity navel gazing than most perhaps due to the fact that she seems to be the only character not to have her history wiped out via the Flashpoint reboot. However, I do wonder if this issue could have been a little more friendly to new readers because even I, as someone fairly experienced with the Bat verse, had to scrunch up my face as I tried to remember some of the aforementioned plot points in this issue.


Read the rest of Jeremy Sims' review on Batwatch

My Rating


Cover & Solicit - 4/5
Art, Colors & Inking - 4/5
Layout & Flow - 4/5
Story - 4/5
Verdict - 4


Purchase DC Comics
Jeremy Sims is a blogger at https://batwatch.squarespace.com/ and a comic book reviewer at Comic Vine. The use of these reviews has been authorized by the original author.

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