The last issue won me over in a big way as I finally returned to reading a monthly Batman title. This issue assured me that I wasn’t wrong in my decision and at the same time made for a difficult choice on which female character I’d like to see play Robin. Not that I truly care about their being a Robin, but since DC is never going to let that shit rest, I’d rather have some say in it at least. I was bummed that the art changed, but Scot Eaton is very capable and did a great job on this issue. Honestly, if I didn’t write the credits down at the end of the review I probably wouldn’t have paid it as much attention. The story begins with a flashback of a young Bruce and for the first time since the company wide reboot, he felt like a new character. While training in the Himalayas he fucking kicks a woman through a window and she falls to her death. Holy shit, you’re a bad mother fucker. It also turns out that he was in love with her, but she was hiding the fact that she was a part of the League of Assassins. Well Mr. Wayne it looks like you can’t keep your pants on around women trained to kill. The woman’s name is Mio and she’s actually pretending to play dead with a technique that was taught to her for just this situation. She reports back to her master and he decides that she will remain dead and be reborn as someone new after learning a dangerous technique.
RA AL GA, RA AL GA, RA AL GA! That’s coded chanting so that I don’t ruin the story for you, but the minute you see who Mio’s boss is you’ll begin to chant too!
After that the story makes its way into the present with Batman taking down some out-of-town assassins. It takes him two minutes to beat the shit out of the team who now know how Gotham operates. From there we learn that a Prime Minister is visiting and likely the target for the real assassin. Harper Lee returns this issue and dammit if she didn’t win me over. Not only did I like her design, but I liked her brains and personality.
This issue wasn’t perfect. I didn’t particularly care for the fact that Mio let Harper follower her and that Harper thought she should say her concerns about the situation out loud. Also I guess Batman just pounds the pavement in front of multiple witnesses now and makes it a point to talk to civilians thus putting their lives in danger. It wasn’t a huge thing and I know I’m just being nitpicky.
Otherwise, I really liked the new lady from Batman’s past and the return of one of Bat’s key villains. I’m very interested to see what Layman does with the character as I bet it will be exciting and different. Alfred is becoming quite enjoyable in this series as well which is a nice change of pace. I like him getting his hands dirty and helping all the time and I’m pretty sure Layman deserves the credit for that.
Eaton’s art is at home with the series. It’s a good fit and captures the tone of Layman’s writing while still having a look and design familiar with Batman. There are things about Layman’s writing that come through in the art regardless of the artist. In the opening as the car draws near the reader spends most of the time behind Batman, either his hands or boots. It makes his entrance all the grander and that’s a very cool aspect of this series.
I’m becoming a big fan of this book and I say that after giving up on the entire Bat line of books after the first six issues. Layman’s Batman reads like a new version that actually fits with the rebooted world, rather than a Batman that brought all his baggage with him just because the sales were good enough to support it. It was the biggest disappointment of the new 52 in my opinion, but now this series has returned the character to form. Too bad Layman isn’t writing or in charge of the other Bat titles.
Writer: John Layman
Artist: Scot Eaton
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: 6/5/13