I really, really want to like this book. When the rest of the DCU rebooted, Peter Tomasi just kept on keepin’ on, telling his style of Batman stories set in a Gotham I recognize, featuring versions of the characters that I knew and loved. I appreciate that a ton. Now factor in that this book has become a rotating “Batman &” title? A new, modern Brave & the Bold?
And how can I not mention the spectacular art from Patrick Gleason. His action scenes are dynamic, his acting is cartoonish and clear, and his splash pages are always worth it (unlike most new 52 titles). The guy is a great storyteller; the sense of transition from panel to panel is seamless, so nice that I actually notice it in this book. When he surprises you, it is by design (like in the Aquaman issue where Batman suddenly appears on the cockpit of Ra’s Al Ghul’s jet).
Hell, a recent issue actually had Batman stop by Noonan’s bar, with the surviving Hitman characters still hanging around enjoying a beer! A nod to one of my top 2 or 3 titles ever!
So how could I not love this book? Well, the problem is two-fold. One, Two-Face was the villain for far, far too long. I’m not sure how long the story actually went, but it felt like at least six issues of wheel-spinning and examination of a character we already know everything about. And Carrie Kelley, the Irish mobster who was the foil for this months long story never felt like a true threat to Batman. Her ties to Bruce Wayne were interesting, but I never thought she had a chance to even threaten the Dark Knight. At no point in the story did I have any doubt about the outcome; Bats had it under control.
Now that the focus is shifting, I’m very hopeful for the future. It seems Tomasi has inherited Grant Morrison’s Batman Incorporated storyline, so the main plot will have a lot more punch to it. After all, as a big Damian Wayne fan, I’ll go along for the ride to see if he has a chance to come back.
The other great indicator is that Two-Face won’t be guest-starring in every issue now. It feels a lot more like Brave & the Bold when we get a real DC hero as a guest star and they go up against a real DC villain. That’s what I want from this book! Using Gleason any other way is foolish, he should be going on a tour of the DCU and trying to put a good spin on those crappy costumes!
So if Tomasi has truly refocused the book to include better guest stars, more dangerous-feeling plots, and credible villains, then I’ll stay aboard. But right now this is a very, very shaky book on my list.