Though Batman has played a part in most of this series, this issue sees both he and Batwing streaking toward Gotham City in an effort to save two more members of The Kingdom, Africa’s premier super team. They have one member, Daniel Balogun, once known as Steelback, in their custody and readers are finally clued in as to why this once proud super team retired in shame. And… it’s kind of convoluted and unsatisfying.
As has been alluded to, The Kingdom was Africa’s answer to the Justice League, rising up shortly after America’s team to defend their own nation. Their final appearance was at the battle to free what became The Democratic Republic of the Congo. (I’ll try not to spoil too much.) The heroes decided that the battle needed to be won by the people, so they took themselves out of the fight, not realizing that the king they were overthrowing, Masika Okura had made a secret pact and that the people’s army was likely to be slaughtered. Earth Strike gathers new information and the heroes are faced with some devastating choices. The result is their complete loss of belief in their reason for being and each hero retires for good.
Yet somehow, Massacre, who Batwing believes to be the former Warlord, General Keita, has learned their identities and has tracked down and killed each of them in a brutal manner, with the exception of Balogun.
Massacre has gone to Gotham to take out two other former members, Staff and Razorwire. Since Batman and Batwing are en route, Batman enlists his allies, Alfred, Batgirl, Nightwing and Robin, who combine their specialties to track the two men down. Nightwing and Robin seem to track them down at a stronghold, but it may still be too late as we learn Massacre has turned part of The Kingdom’s arsenal against them.
The reveal of The Kingdom’s reason for disbanding is a tad confusing, honestly. After all that build up and tension, I was just slightly let down. The other “big” point of this issue, is the inclusion of the extended Bat Family. They work well here and are all handled consistently with their depictions in the other Bat comics.
The art this issue is handled by the excellent Dustin Nguyen, who does a fantastic job. His art is fairly stylized, so it may not appeal to everyone, but I liked it a lot. It’s strange however that Ben Oliver, who drew the book before, didn’t complete the entire first story line. His art was so realistic and painterly and Nguyen’s is more traditional comic book style, it’s a stark contrast and once the initial storyline is collected in trade, it’s going to seem jarring. That will be a disappointment. That’s not an insult to either artist, but it seems a strange choice to make on editorial’s part.
That said, if you’ve been reading up to this point, this issue is a must-read!
Written by Judd Winick
Art by Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs
Cover by Jason Fabok and Brian Reber