Batman is dead.
Fortunately, comic book Heaven has a revolving door policy and we won’t have to suffer through third-rate bullshit like this for too much longer, and then we’ll get Batman back and be momentarily happy until we realize that we never bought this kind of hack work and really, cheapy weeklies like Battle For the Cowl were never relevant as far as Batman books go, and then we’ll go back to reading good comics and forget the whole thing ever happened until a few years later when DC decides it needs to pick up the slack in commemorative statuette sales, and fuck, it’s either Supes or Batman’s turn, but who remembers? It’s not like DC has its eye to quality when it comes to shit like this.
So, Batman’s dead. Nightwing’s upset about it. Like, really upset. Frankly, I’m more upset over having to dignify Nightwing as some kind of legitimate character, when really he was only brought in to butch up the idea of Robin. Someone’s pretending to be Batman, and leaving notes saying things like “I AM BATMAN” written in crazy person scrawl, and we’re to believe that Batman didn’t write these because 1) he’s dead—trust us—and 2) Batman’s handwriting would be way sleeker, sexier richer.
If you weren’t delighted by the prospect of DC yet again trotting out another enormously tired and overused conceit like (temporarily) killing a major character, then you’ll be super psyched that this also means every limping, uncoordinated, nearsighted, slobbering, slack-jawed reject of Gotham’s Junior Varsity team will be peeling out the cracks. You remember Huntress, don’t you? And Squire?
Then some shit goes down and “the Black Mask” (he should really get a better mask; this one makes him look kind of busted) breaks all the baddies out of Arkham. Or, rather, all the major baddies were conveniently on a bus because Arkham thought it reasonable to transport them together (or something) and apparently they learned nothing from Con Air, because you should never transport that many psychopaths at one time. Things will go wrong. Put the bunny down.
A few advertisements later (drink your milk, don’t do drugs, don’t be a snail) and all the baddies have to do what Black Mask says or their faces will explode (swear to god). Then Nightwing does some JV brooding in Batman’s lavish walk-in-closet, until he’s interrupted by Robin, but really we’re just distracted because despite (writer and “drawer”) Tony S. Daniels’ enthusiasm for the opulent curvature of heaving breasts, he’s still visibly uncomfortable with drawing the male buttocks. Long story short, Nightwing should spend a little less time on his eleven ridiculous triceps and maybe do some lunges. He’s top heavy.
More brooding. Only, fight-brooding. Also, Alfred looks like Vincent Price now. More Black Mask talking, some flying, Batman’s here again (flashback?) (CONFUSED), s’up Catwoman, maybe some docks—holy fuck! Killer Croc just ate the shit out of some guy!
Before I can recover from Killer Croc eating someone, we’re back at Second String HQ, with Barb Gordon and Huntress and what is it? Black Canary? I don’t remember. Then Poison Ivy does some seducing, Killer Croc almost eats someone again, important lessons are learned, Nightwing still sucks, promises are made to behave and carry on in a new era of personal responsibility, and then the guy who isn’t Batman shows up thinking this is Pulp Fiction because not only does he 1) have two pistols, but 2) is firing them sideways and 3) has his arms crossed for, you know, good measure. Or stylistic reasons. Or something.
Overall, this completely sucked. We know it’s easy to bank on the Batman name and clog the shelves with forgettable garbage like this in between the Arkham Asylums and The Long Halloweens that come along and mow us over with their baby-melting awesomeness, but sometimes this lazy exploitation of a beloved franchise is too transparent for comfort and we shouldn’t buy it.