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@BatWatcher Reviews: @DCComics Batgirl, Batwoman, Birds of Prey, Catwoman


Here are today's "Guest Reviews" by Jeremy Sims from Batwatch. Included are DC's; Batgirl #20, Batwoman #20, Birds of Prey #20, and Catwoman #20. 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 #20 - A Splinter Where My Heart Should Be


There’s no time to catch your breath after last issue’s shocking ending as an emotionally unstable Batgirl must confront one of Batman’s most violent foes: The Ventriloquist!


Preview



The Ventriloquist ...She Gives a Voice to Death


I'm actually a little afraid to read Batgirl. I want to like this series as so many do, and some issues in the past have been a lot of fun. I thought some moments of Batgirl's Death of the Family tie in were amazing, but then we have issues like #19 which...melt my brain. I've already mentioned my criticisms on the issue many times, so I'm not going to rehash everything once more, but to put it succinctly, I thought the entire resolution to the James Jr. story arc was difficult to believe. Now, we have Babs dealing with the guilt over killing her brother and the introduction of a new villain, or rather a new version of an old villain, The Ventriloquist. The images alone have greatly intrigued me as this character looks like she could have stepped straight out of a horror movie.

Does The Ventriloquist live up to the high standards of villainy and lunacy that previous characters have brought the mantle or is this new character just a cheap pretender to Arnold Wesker's throne?

In this issue, Batgirl goes into crisis, and we learn a little about the new Ventriloquist's past before seeing her present where she makes her big debut on a talent show.

The Horror Vibe Works

Will this issue give you nightmares? No, not unless you are one the most easily scared people on the planet or you have a preexisting phobia of dummies, but the issue pretty well delivers what you expect from the cover. This new Ventriloquist is a creepy character. She looks like she just crawled out of a well and through a television set, and her fragile ego starved for attention works about as well as anything as an excuse to become a psychotic murderer. The art plays up her creepiness, and there was one seen in particular where a sudden change in expression actually gave me a tiny bit of a shock though it would probably work better on Comixology as I read it where it is an immediate transition at a touch of a button instead of reading it on a page where you can see out of the corner of your eye what is coming. (fun fact: it has been psychologically proven that people are drawn to spot threatening faces before friendly faces, so there is a good chance you will notice the scary face before you are actually ready to read that panel) The issue reminds me of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in that it is not truly scary, but every once in a while, they do something slightly disturbing.

Some might find the need for fame to be a thin excuse for going on a killing spree, but actually, that's one of the main theories explaining mass murderers. Nobody can be certain what someone else thinks, but there is a lot of speculation that mass murderers act partially because they want to make a name for themselves and be remembered even if they are often committing death by cop. Speaking of the police, the police have actually theorized that the shooter in the Sandy Hook massacre was trying to get a high score in homicides. He was apparently a dedicated FPS gamer, and he had looked up the death tally of other mass murderers before choosing a nice “gun free” zone in which to go for his attempt at the high score. All of that to say, this Ventriloquist's motivation seems plausible to me.

Straight for the Jugular

After last issue, I opened these pages expecting to see Batman approaching and recruiting Luke Fox and Luke slowly getting involved with his first major scuffle. Well, screw that! Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray do not bother with a slow build and instead make this issue an action packed thrill ride by starting six months into Batwing's career.

The issue starts with a bang and continues firing throughout. Our first glimpse of Batwing this issue features him already in a scrap with several dozen armored warriors and one armored behemoth. After several pages, the action does slow down a bit to develop Luke as a character and explain, via well timed flashbacks, who Luke is and how he got to this point in his life though many elements of Luke's past are still shadowed, and this is an aspect of the story which will no doubt continue to be unveiled for many issues to come. Even during the more plot based moments in this issue, action is never more than a page away. The entire back half of the issue is an extended fight scene, yet we learn much about Luke's thinking and fighting style throughout, so it is not a brainless slug fest as often occurs in these sorts of extended battles.

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
 - (Buy Batgirl #20)


Batwoman #20 - This Blood is Thick: Cells


Batwoman is being played right into a confrontation with Batman…and that’s the least of her problems after the final page of issue #20!


Preview



Sisters


I want to be excited about this issue, but I'm kind of meh on it. My fear is that it is going to be another long narrative issue with no big surprises. Previews make it look like Agent Chase will be taking center stage for at least the beginning of the book, and though I'm not necessarily against long side character developments, I'm really in the mood to see some solid action from Kate since we did not see much from her last issue.

Does Batwoman #20 deliver a nice fix of action or is this just another exposition issue?

In this issue, Batwoman finds out how Agent Chase rescued Alice.

How Far Can Family Melodrama Be Stretched?

How far? I'm not sure, but it's got to be getting close the breaking point by now. At this point, Kate has so many family entanglements complicating her crime fighting that it's a miracle she can get anything done. I actually think a strong supporting cast is essential for a good story, and all of the element that the Kane family and Maggie have added to Kate's life have been positive factors in terms of making the story more intriguing, but the story feels like it is about to collapse under the weight of its own soap opera style revelations and convoluted storytelling. If this is where the twists and turns stop for awhile, then I'm okay with it, but if anything else is added to the mix of craziness, I think it might make this whole situation seem ludicrous. There was a plan and a union formed among the warring family forces at the end of this issue. I just hope this holds for a little while, or this series might turn into the, “Who will get stabbed in the back next?” show.

Also, I'm worried about Kate and Maggie's relationship. I would have thought this would get immediate attention after the proposal, but instead of establishing the new norm or the aftermath of the proposal, the writers have moved the story past the immediate shakeout of the proposal and landed us in the middle of what feels like a very strained relationship to me. My original concern was that Kate and Maggie were already on strained terms before the revelation that Kate is Batwoman and the proposal; the idea of marriage fixing their previously existing problems is silly. Then, it seemed to develop another crack in this issue.

Read the rest of Jeremy Sims' review on Batwatch

My Rating


Cover & Solicit - 3/5
Art, Colors & Inking - 4/5
Layout & Flow - 4/5
Story - 4/5
Verdict - 3.9
 - (Buy Batwoman #20)


Birds of Prey #20 - The Cruelest Cut


The traitor revealed! Who will aid Mr. Freeze as he continues his onslaught against The Court of Owls—and how can the Birds hope to stop him?


Preview



Cold as Ice!


This is an important issue for Birds at least in my mind. Birds of Prey has been lousy for quite some time, but this last issue was good. It wasn't great, but it was good, and for Birds of Prey, that is a major step up, so I'm a little anxious. I would love to love what the new writer Christy Marx (current writer of Birds of Prey and Sword of Sorcery) is doing with the series, but I know that one good issue does not prove a writer's skills. However, two good issues in a row, though not conclusive, at least carries some weight.

Does Birds of Prey finally have some solid writing talent or does this issue just clip the Birds wings?

In this issue, the Birds face off against Starling and Mr. Freeze.

Justifying the Betrayal

Last issue revealed that Starling was the traitor working with Mr. Freeze which was not terribly surprising but still a little confusing. On one hand, it has been clear that Starling has loyalties apart from the Birds for quite some time. On the other hand, those loyalties seemed to be to Amanda Waller and perhaps her Suicide Squad not Victor Fries. Why has Starling decided to join forces with Freeze?

Her betrayal is explained in this issue, but it makes no sense. There is a very good chance that Starling might have another agenda which she has not yet revealed, but her stated motivation is that she knew Freeze from way back, he wanted vengeance, and she figured that it was all good as long as it hurt the Court of Owls. That sort of makes sense, but there is no reason to keep this agenda secret from the rest of the Birds. They would have gladly fought to stop the Court of their own volition, and considering the Birds were teamed with Poison Ivy for the first twelve issues of this series, it is not hard to imagine that they would work willingly with Freeze given the lay of the land from the get go. No, the whole scenario doesn't make sense, and even if Starling is playing a different con than stated, acquiring Mr. Freeze's healing formula on Waller's behalf for instance, it still seems like she should have come up with a better excuse.

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
 - (Buy Birds of Prey #20)

Catwoman #20 - Escalate


Membership in the Justice League of America is going to cost Catwoman the rest of her nine lives as Selina comes to grips with the deadly reality of her current imprisonment!


Preview



A Cat in the Penguin's Nest!


Ah, Catwoman. The winds of fate have been cruel to you, my friend. First, a passing reboot wiped out decades of character growth and made you a semi-dimwitted, petty thief once more. Winick (former writer of Batman, Batwing and Green Arrow and current writer and penciler of Hilo) grabbed your constant flirtatious relationship with Batman and took it to the Nth degree in the most crude way possible, but even the oversexualization of your early DCNU issues were nothing compared to your plight under the control of Ann Nocenti. (former writer for Daredevil and current writer for Catwoman and Katana) I truly feel sorry for you and all your fans who try to make do with the drivel that passes as writing. You deserve better, Selina. You really do.

In the wake of getting thrown in Arkham, discovering a big, giant...something under the insane asylum, and escaping, Catwoman is apparently going to steal something from Oswald Cobblepot because...I don't know. I don't know why anything happens in this title anymore.

Is Catwoman #20 surprisingly good or does it manage to disappoint my already low expectations?

In this issue, Catwoman steals from Cobblepot and notices she has a stalker.

Well, It Could Be Worse

This issue actually had some good concepts, but even the good parts are underdeveloped or developed in the wrong way.

A gang war is brewing and it appears Catwoman will become involved. This could be cool. Selina has long been a defender of the underdog and it appears as if she will end up siding against Cobblepot's forces. The problem is, very little exists to distinguish good and bad between the soon to be warring gangs. The Rat Tales might be the lesser of two evils, but that is hardly enough for me to feel motivated to root for them. Also, the Rat Tales characters are thus far one dimensional, so it is hard to imagine they will end up being any more than cannon fodder.

The other element which had a lot of potential and still might be pretty cool in more talented hands is the villain Escalate. Selina encountered the demon escalate in the Black Room as you probably will not recall because it was honestly rather forgettable. Basically, he was just generically demon like at the time, but here, he has bonded with a human, and he seems a bit more focused perhaps because of his half human mind. Escalate can escalate the emotions of any person, and it turns out this power has some pretty cool uses. He can even escalate nature though what exactly that means is rather unclear.

Read the rest of Jeremy Sims' review on Batwatch

My Rating


Cover & Solicit - 3/5
Art, Colors & Inking - 4/5
Layout & Flow - 2/5
Story - 3/5
Verdict - 3.1
 - (Buy Catwoman #20)

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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