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Batman: Battle for the Cowl #3 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 2/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 2.5/5

Azrael: Death’s Dark Knight #3 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 2/5
Art: 2/5
Overall: 2/5

Azrael: Death’s Dark Knight #2 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 2/5
Art: 3/5
Overall: 2/5

Batman: Battle for the Cowl #2 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 3/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 3/5

Battle for the Cowl: Commissioner Gordon #1 [Review]

A Cold Day in Hell

Written by: Royal McGraw
Art by: Tom Mandrake
Colors by: Guy Major
Letters by: Sal Cipriano
Asst. Edited by: Harvey Richards
Edited by: Michael Siglain
Cover: Ladronn
Publisher: DC Comics

I came on way late with GOtham Central back in the day, though after reading the first hardcover realized it should have been tops on my list years earlier. Given the nature of that title, I had high hopes for this issue…hopes that weren’t entirely realized, but not really dashed, either.

We begin with Gordon prisoner of one of Batman’s foes, before flashing back a bit to show us how it is that he came to be in this position. It’s not long before Gordonrealizes that his confrontation with this foe comes down to just them–Batman’s “dead,” after all–and we see James Gordon the cop here, not just a figure calling in Batman with a spotlight on top of a building.

The story’s fairly straightforward here; nothing spectacular. But we do get a look at Gordon and how the GCPD is faring without Batman in town. This doesn’t strike me as a definitive Gordon story–but it’s nothing that seems to really counter anything that’s come before. In fact, it seems to affirm many of the elements of the Batman “universe” I enjoy.

The art’s pretty good, and fits the story. I particularly liked that it managed to in a few particular panels take my mind exactly where I think it was supposed to, invoking other comics and even the Batman animated series from the 1990s (a series that absolutely cannot be ignored in the staging of this issue).

All in all, this was a solid issue, but not really integral to anything. It’s a nice look at supporting elements, but it doesn’t seem likely to inform events of the core mini. Well worth it if you’re a fan of the character or want to see the wider scope of the Batman/Gotham “universe” but not something you’d need if you’re just along for the core Battle for the Cowl series.

Story: 7.5/10
Art: 7.5/10
Whole: 7.5/10

Oracle: The Cure #1 [Review]

Home Again, Home Again

Writer: Kevin Vanhook
Pencillers: Julian Lopez & Fernando Pasarin
Inkers: Bit & Hi-Fi’s David Bryant
Colorist: Hi-Fi
Letterer: Steve Wands
Assistant Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Michael Siglain
Cover: Guillem March
Publisher: DC Comics

We open on a view from outside Barbara Gordon’s new apartment building, as residents all react to flickering availability of power. We then move into seeing Barbara interact with her father, some other allies, hacker contacts, and so on, showing us much of what makes up the life of Oracle as she adjusts to being back in Gotham City after being gone for quite awhile.

The story isn’t bad, though I’m not terribly enthused by it. Nothing really blows me away…in fact, a couple points actually strike me as extremely cliche. There’s a point that’s brought up several times throughout the issue that screams foreshadowing to me (and cliched foreshadowing at that). Additionally, what happens with one of Barbara’s hacker friends seems laughably unrealistic to me, like a plot point jammed in because there was no other way to have such a point occur otherwise.

The art’s not bad. It seems vaguely generic at points, but comes across smoothly for the most part. Aside from some…questionable angles…you could really find a lot of art in comics out there that is far less appealing. What we have in this issue works for the story, and fits.

The way the foreshadowing pays off in the next two issues will really inform how integral this series is to the Battle for the Cowl story as a whole. For now, this seems to be at least a nice tie-in that takes the context of the overall story and is telling a smaller aspect of that story with a particular focus that needn’t include the entire Bat-verse.

Could be much better, but not a bad read if you’re interested in the character or having all the tie-ins and such.

Story: 7/10
Art: 7/10
Whole: 7/10

Azrael: Death’s Dark Knight #1 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Batman: Battle for the Cowl #1 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Gotham Gazette: Batman Dead? #1 [Review]

The Veil, Vicki Vale, Stephanie Brown, Leslie Thompkins, Harvey Bullock

Written by: Fabian Nicieza
Art by: Dustin Nguyen, Guillem March, ChrisCross, Jamie McKelvie, Alex Konat, Mark McKenna
Letters: Swands
Colors: Guy Major, Guillem March
Assistant Editor: Janelle Siegel
Editor: Mike Marts
Cover: Dustin Nguyen
Publisher: DC Comics

This one-shot takes a quick look to check in with several major characters operating in Gotham City, and how they are impacted by the apparent death of Batman. The opening/closing is from the point of view of The Veil, who I’m pretty sure is the character introduced in a recent Detective/Batman two-parter. The scene shifts from her to the other characters. Vicki Vale is back in town, working for the Gotham Gazette again, rather than a tv studio; she finds herself needing to re-proove her abilities at the paper, and seeks to contact Bruce Wayne who also seems to be gone, though there have been a number of sightings of the man around the world. At the same time, Stephanie Brown–Spoiler/Robin IV–looks at the city from her (apparent) new role as she observes Robin (Tim Drake) in action. Leslie Thompkins returns to the city, and seeks to get a feel for herself of what the city is like now, minus its caped crusader. Harvey Bullock has his hands full with a new partner as he himself continues working back from his recent “fall from grace.”

We have a number of artists on this issue, each providing the visuals for the different characters’ chapters. Nothing really stood out to me…which is both good and bad here: bad because hey, nothing blew me away. But it’s good as nothing stood out that I’ve any real complaint with. That each artist contributed to a specific chapter speaks to me of intention rather than “fill-in” work. Having different artists also helps to separate the characters involved, injecting just a bit of a difference or personality to them that could be lost with a single artist.

The story is solid if a bit choppy, since there’s no singular through narrative; we’re checking in on a numerous characters in different contexts and situations, unified simply by being in Gotham and not knowing if there is still a Batman. Nicieza, though I’ve not read much of his Batman work, seems to have a feel for the characters much as I associate with Chuck Dixon’s work on the same, which certainly is for the positive in my eyes.

This issue I believe is to serve as a prologue of sorts to the Battle for the Cowl mini and its tie-ins. This does a pretty good job of showing situations characters are in at present, giving them some facetime that may not be found in the main Battle for the Cowl series.

I’m not sure that this is essential to that story except to add context, but it is probably worth getting if you’re planning on following the entirety of the story.

Story: 8/10
Art: 7.5/10
Whole: 8/10

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