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Chaos in Gotham

January 14, 2010

     In his first few months as Batman, Dick Grayson has had to deal with all sorts of craziness.  With the new Black Mask taking over just about everything, the other mob lords, Two-Face and Penguin, are forced to take more drastic measures.  As a part of trying to discern Batman’s identity, Two-Face sent out Clayface and Lyle Blanco to lure him out.  After a long fight, Batman manages to subdue the two, but they escape.  Two-Face hires a teleporter and teleports himself to the Batcave, and Black Mask forces Penguin to join his organization or die.  Although Two-Face believes that Dick is not the original Batman, Alfred Pennyworth helps convince and defeat him.  Two-Face is freed by Black Mask and told to either join or leave town, and Two-Face decides to leave rather than work with him.  Then, Dick finds a mysterious flash drive in Jason Todd’s cowl case in the Batcave, one which contains information on his family.  The National Guard corners Black Mask in a part of Gotham, and Mario Falcone returns to try and carve out his own piece of Gotham.  Black Mask starts recruiting a bizarre group of people called the Ministry of Science, which includes Dr. Death,  Hugo Strange, Fright, and Reaper.  Black Mask attends one of Hush’s (who is masquerading as Bruce Wayne) galas, though we don’t see who he really is.  Dick goes with Huntress, though Oracle sees them kiss to avoid being caught eavesdropping.  A member of the Falcone family named Kitrina causes trouble, and when Huntress and Riddler investigate, Riddler reverts to his evil persona.  When Batman tries to dig up information on the girl Kitrina, the kid he’s talking to gets shot.  Batman harasses Penguin to get information, while Hush and Jeremiah Arkham talk to an Indian doctor with a possible cure for all forms of insanity.  Mario tosses Kitrina into the water for double-crossing him (though we don’t know for whom), Reaper attacks Penguin for squealing to Batman, and the boy Batman talked to dies in the hospital.

     Judd Winick’s Two-Face storyline was rather simplistic, acting as another part of Dick Grayson establishing himself as the new man in the cowl.  Personally, I got rather tird of that fast, so although it was a sound storyline, it wasn’t exactly the most exciting thing I’ve ever read.  More interesting was what the story meant as a whole for the future of the Black Hand’s operations and the mysteriousness of the flash drive.  Tony Daniel’s work, however, is far more interesting, as he seems to have a better grasp of Batman and the new status quo.  The Ministry of Science is really interesting, especially the frightening Reaper and what happened to him in his past.  Daniel’s doing good work establishing him as one of Batman’s new premier foes.  The whole arc is rather schizophrenic, with the Penguin, Catwoman, Huntress, Black Mask, and the Falcone plotlines all going on at the same time.  But the fact that, while reading them, it all makes sense is just proof that Daniel knows what he’s doing.  He’s definitely not one of the most groundbreaking writers Batman has ever had, but he’s solid.  Mark Bagley’s art is still rather underwhelming, like his work on Justice League of America, while Tony Daniel’s work is still rather good.  His faces seem to be reverting a bit to their pre-Batman: Battle for the Cowl quality, perhaps because he’s so busy writing and penciling a normal ongoing series.  Batman and Robin is definitely the flagship of the current Batman status quo, but Daniel is doing well fleshing out some of the side stuff he created in Battle for the Cowl and giving Dick something else to do other than dealing with Grant Morrison’s truly deranged supervillains.  It’s good supplementary reading.

Plot: 8.8      Art: 8.5      Dialogue: 8.7      Overall: 8.6

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