‘Batwing’ #1 opened with a scene in which Batwing is injured while attempting to stop Massacre from killing a busload of people.  That scene is revisited and expanded upon this issue and it becomes apparent why the writer, Judd Winick, chose to open this series with that particular scene.

But first there is another flashback to David Zavimbe’s early days on the police force and his first attempted bribery.  He is furious at the corruption and begins to formulate a plan to enforce justice a different, less traditional way.  In a later flashback, it is revealed that one year ago, he disguised himself and began battling criminals as a vigilante and has made quite a name for himself; so much so that Batman himself has traveled to Tinasha to meet him.

In the present, Massacre has been killing off the former members of the African super team The Kingdom.  This time, he is after Daniel Balogun, formerly the armor suited Steelback, who apparently has used his technological know-how to become a wealthy entrepreneur.  Batwing arrives in Egypt and Massacre locks Balogun and his business associates in the bus, while he deals with the hero.  Massacre pins the hero down and goes after the men, but something he says sparks a memory in Batwing’s head and he believes he has discerned the villain’s identity and it’s someone he has very strong ties to.  For the first time, Batwing is able to intervene and prevents Massacre from murdering his prey.

Batwing takes Balogun back to his base The Haven where he and Batman question him about the identities and whereabouts of the other surviving Kingdom members.  “He will never find Deity.  When she left us, she left the modern world.  I have heard that she is living in the wild.”  But the other two, Razorwire and Staff are living… Gotham City!  Cue team-up!

Things are coming to a head and the possible revelation of Massacre’s identity is a satisfying development in a storyline that is now on its sixth chapter.  It’s long, but not dragging.  Every issue is chock full of developments in the present with significant background information supplied via flashbacks.  The appearances by Batman here and the rest of the Bat Family next issue will hopefully lure in additional readers.

The art by Ben Oliver with additional inks and colors by Brian Reber are always lush and beautiful.  The scenes in Egypt are appropriately sun-drenched with an almost sepia color palette, while the flashbacks are a darker tone and one scene in the jungle is rich and green.  This book has a very unique and beautiful look to it!

In contrast, the cover, penciled by Jason Fabok is very ordinary and a little dated.  I don’t like the way the wisps of smoke are rendered.  This book has such lovely inner artwork, but that cover is so generic and average.  I don’t know why DC has other artists doing the covers when they have such stellar talent doing the interior art!  Use that art to sell the book, not this other stuff!

But to summarize, while yes this storyline is long, it’s very good and each chapter is paced very deliberately with just the right beats at the right time and stunning artwork.  It’s a top notch book, not selling at a top pace, so hopefully the upcoming team-ups will rectify that!

Verdict: Buy

Written by Judd Winick
Art by Ben Oliver and Brian Reber
Cover by Jason Fabok and Brian Reber