Holy crap were these two issues disappointing!
I feel like a jerk for saying it, especially with Batgirl because a lot was accomplished, but I was underwhelmed by these. B&R had a HUGE mischaracterization and Batgirl left the plot I was interested in completely in the dust here without a resolution when I expected a payoff.
Before I get into the reviews, I'd note it's very clear that all the crossover books are ending on the same teaser page. The Bat-family members are being set up for something in their Batman #17 and I guess all the books need to launch to that.
Sadly, this only serves to make me more angry about Catwoman and Suicide Squad's crossovers because now I have to reason as to why the hell those two entries were important at all.
Now to the reviews!
I'm opening with Batgirl because her book was stronger and SHOULD have been the culmination of a lot of events, but instead accomplished very little besides setting up Batman #17 and leaving its own plot in the dust.
It opens with Barbara shortly after being paralyzed being angry about Joker and wanting revenge. We end with a lack of a payoff thanks to James Gordon Jr.
Jim Jr. is both a great thing for this book and a huge detractor for it at the same time. His helping of Batgirl and what he says about freeing their mother serves as a way for her to cut loose and for us to finally get that payoff we were hoping for.
His twist at the end not only costs us the chance to see what Barbara would do if she knew Joker's death was imminent, but it also screwed up the plotline and made me wonder why the hell Jim Jr. was even used in the crossover to begin with.
Admittedly, his having multiple grenades and using them as a bargaining chip to continue the Odyssey of Barbara Gordon Squared is kind of awesome villainy, but why did we need to cut away to the girl he's seeing? What is her purpose in this? Why did in need to be seen now and not after the crossover?
I feel like this Joker clash would have worked better if Gail Simone had brought it up herself and not as a tie-in to Scott Snyder's event. It wasn't bad – actually, it was quite good by the tie-ins' standards, – but it should have been allowed to have a more natural conclusion.
Luckily, Simone has proven she can make all this work with enough time, so I am glad she's sticking around at least long enough to solve these points of confusion. I'd have probably dropped this series if this was the setup to a new writer because I know it would be botched HARD.
But Simone is good at planning stuff out, so I'll give her the time needed to develop this story. Buy this book because it's key for later stories in both this book and DOTF. It's not the best, but it's made itself VERY important, which in many ways is more important in purchasing decisions.
Ok, I have to just ask this: How stupid did Peter Tomasi have to make Damian in his mind to make this plot work?
Seriously, the man trained by Batman and Talia al' Ghul couldn't figure out for the length of this book what we already knew: that he was NOT fighting Batman?
I don't even think it counts as a spoiler to say that. It's so painfully obvious, especially when you consider that this is a tie-in, that this can't be Batman he's fighting, and that should have been clear after probably 30 seconds of fighting.
But it JUST. WOULDN'T. DIE.
This charade kept through the entire book, with Damian trying to convince him to break the Joker's hold. I know the Joker gas was supposed to be messing with his mind, but you are really making me have to suspend disbelief to think that Damian couldn't ID his own father through the length of a fight.
The art from Patrick Gleason continues its gruesome glory while simultaneously looking less and less plausible and simply more grotesque for the sake of shock value.
Tomasi and Gleason are far better than they appear in this issue. The "Born to Kill" arc may have been the best arc in the entire Bat-family line in the first year of the New 52 (at least on par with "The Court of Owls/Night of the Owls" in Snyder's book) and yet I can't help but feel they went away from what made sense to insert what looked cool.
It's a story that only works if you assume Damian has lost some-thousand brain cells since leading a unit of the army away from a Talon in Issue #9. Buy if you're collecting, but if not, wait until this team can work independently of tie-ins next month.
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