Spoilers ahead! Batwing’s past is further fleshed out this issue. As was revealed last issue, David Zavimbe and his brother Isaac were once child soldiers for a crime lord, General Ayo Keita. Both boys were wondrously efficient in their killing skills, but refused to harm women or children, despite their superiors’ orders. In this issue, we learn that their steadfastness ultimately costs Isaac his life! Afterward, David vows not to kill any more. He does manage to extract his revenge on General Keita. He just lets others bloody their hands, instead of him.
There is a little bit more development of the present day Massacre storyline, as Batwing finds the body of another fallen member of The Kingdom. It looks like that particular storyline is close to resolution. But to be honest, with this issue, I wasn’t upset that the main story took a backseat, since it filled in a lot of Batwing’s past. This was necessary since he’s a new character and we still don’t know much about him.
The art on this issue was handled by Criscross, taking over for Ben Oliver. CrisCross is good, but I miss Oliver’s painterly style. But that said, I did state previously that Oliver’s art was so good, I didn’t see how he could produce it on a monthly schedule. I guess this answers that! Criscross does a fine job! His work has its own lushness, particularly in the outdoor sequences. Some of his facial expressions border on overly exaggerated, but overall, he does a great job here.
I like the political tone of this book, which is rare for me. Batwing’s homeland of Tinasha appears as corrupt as they come. His harsh childhood is also hard to comprehend from a Westerner’s perspective. But it’s sadly accurate. Speaking of corrupt, there’s obviously something not right about The Kingdom, which I hope we learn soon. Overall, this is an intriguing storyline! I am hoping to see a resolution soon, which seems to be coming as, in this issue, Batwing decides to alter his method of attempting to catch Massacre. But this stopgap felt appropriately timed, since we did need some back story on David Zavimbe.
Once more, I think this is a really underrated book. It’s very well written and illustrated. I think the fact that Batwing is a new character and therefore untested scared off some casual buyers. Also the fact that there are so many Batman Family books out there, forced many to place this book at the bottom of their priority list. (Trust me, this book is way better than ‘Batman: The Dark Knight!’) I hope it survives and continues to be as interesting as it is now. There’s a crossover with the rest of the Bat Fam coming up, which may goose sales a little. I hope so!
Written by Judd Winick
Art by Criscross
Cover by Ben Oliver