This is Part 3 of the "Rise of the Batmen" arc, with the rather awesome title of "Army of Shadows." Never heard that one before! Anyway… We open with Kate Kane aka Batwoman and her former significant other Renee Montoya (aka The Question, or at least she used to be, not 100% with all this Rebirth malarkey going on…) waxing lyrical about the good old days and the road less traveled. We open with a nicely drawn flashback to Kate’s army days and how it made her the person she is today, not the conventional soldier, but the rather more unconventional vigilante-come-superhero. There’s no love-loss between these two though. Renee walks off leaving just a single nugget of wisdom, for Kate to “just trust herself, all right?” Is it all right? That’s rather vague. Clearly she’s wrestling with something important here. Fortune cookie wisdom might not be the answer…
Still, no time to dwell on such things, Red Robin is calling and summons her to The Belfry urgently. It appears the Batmen have beaten the living daylights out of Batman and we’re presented with several panels of him blood soaked and defeated. Then just in case we didn’t get the message the first time, nearly every one of our main characters takes turns to tell the others that “they beat Batman!” Yeah, we get that, and I’m rather annoyed about it too, particularly considering Batman could have easily dispatched these foes. They’re hardly supervillains of his calibre, hell, Batman could take these guys out with one hand tied behind his back and a grilled cheese in his mouth…
So, yeah, I’m not in love with the story, not just because I hate to see Bats in a bad spot but because I’ve just seen other books write this story better. The enemies have been better established, the tension more palpable and the threat all the more real. This installment however, just falls flat as we see our Bat groupies band together to defeat their enemy.
It’s not all doom and gloom however, visually, this book really appealed to me, I like Alavaro Martinez behind the pencil and the colours from Brad Anderson make this feel like a Batman book, even if only superficially. Perhaps some scenes could be a little darker and moodier for me but I could just pick up the core Batman series for that.
The tantalising question of this issue is, who’s pulling the strings of the Batmen? Could it be someone close to them? A nice little twist towards the end reveals the answer and delivers a juicy nugget of personal betrayal and disbelief. The story doesn’t end here then, which is a limited success for this overall mediocre issue. Otherwise, I don’t know if I’d have many other reasons to keep picking it up every month. If you’re a fan of the series then you might really enjoy this issue, but for me it’s a little more style over substance.
[su_box title="Score: 3/5" style="glass" box_color="#8955ab" radius="6"]