Last time, we were left with the Joker in ecstasy over having his own face flayed – and now he and the perpetrator are on the loose from Arkham. The GCPD has the face in evidence – and there's no way Commissioner Gordon can let Batman examine it for himself. “The commotion that … 'thing' is causing. You'd think it was the Shroud of Turin we were keeping up there.” And the little girl who witnessed Joker's crime last issue has been kidnapped right out of the hospital. Batman and Gordon are tricked by a feigned call for backup to an old warehouse, where Batman ends up beaten down by the new villain, the Dollmaker – who also captures Gordon, who looks a bit worse for wear on the last page.
I don't really like the tone of Tony Daniel's new Batman stories in Detective Comics. Both the sex and violence have been ratcheted up to eleven. Bruce ends up having casual sex with a reporter within the first couple of pages, and in both the first issue and this one the bloody, gratuitous violence seems to be really over the top. It's Batman, I'll keep getting it for the foreseeable future, but I get the feeling that with this book Daniel's going for the easy “sex and violence” sales tactic. In my opinion he's a better creator than that, and I'm a bit disappointed. Although to be fair, it may be a wider DC thing – Catwoman, Red Hood and the Outlaws, and a couple others I've not read but heard about. Hopefully he'll/they'll work it out of his/their system with the first story arcs.
|Art by Guillem March|
and Tomeu Morey
“Crossbow at the Crossroads”
In month two of the New 52, several new miniseries begin. This is the first I'm reading. I admit I'm a bit conflicted here. When the new Birds of Prey lineup was announced, without Huntress, and the first month's solicitations went by with no word of whether she would make the cut into the New 52 (along with Wally West – still no word, Donna Troy – ditto, Stephanie Brown – hints she may still be around, but to my knowledge nothing definite, Karen Starr – a character with that name is apparently in Mr. Terrific, but ….), I was worried about Helena Bertinelli. Then when hints (only later confirmed) came that there would be a new Earth Two with a relaunched Justice Society of America helmed by James Robinson and Nicola Scott were followed (I think I've got the sequence right, there) by the solicitation of this Huntress miniseries written by Paul Levitz, the co-creator (with Joe Staton) of the original Helena Wayne Earth-Two version of the character 'way back in the 1970s – daughter of the deceased Golden Age Batman and Catwoman, I thought Ah, ha! So that's what they're up to! – and I was quite excited. Then indications came that, no, this would be the “current” Helena Bertinelli “mafia princess” version of the character. Honestly, I can't tell you which I would prefer. I've liked the Bertinelli Huntress. But I'm a big fan of Earth-Two and the JSA – which still seems to be in the plans although as yet unsolicited. And after this issue I'm still undecided as far as the Huntress character goes. If nothing else, I said, it'll be interesting seeing Levitz's spin on a character who is not quite what he had a hand in creating.
Frankly, however, this issue is pretty run-of-the-mill. Huntress – Helena Bertinelli according to a barely legible photo ID she presents when arriving in Naples – has traveled to the “Old Country” to head off a shipment of smuggled weapons destined for Gotham City. She stumbles into a human trafficking sex trade network, smuggling young Arab women into Europe for less-than-honorable reasons, something that has apparently seen quite the upswing since the “Arab Spring” (some “real world” current events bleeding in here). A friend said it all reminded him of the recent Pipeline story with the Renee Montoya Question backup in Detective Comics. I'm not sure, based on just this first issue, why this warranted a second-month-of-the-DCnU-launched miniseries. One thing I did notice – there's no reason I could see that this story could not have been told as part of the pre-Flashpoint DCU. I guess not every story is going to throw the fact that it's a new universe in our faces, but the absence of any such indication jumped right out at me.
|Art by Marcus To and John Dell|
There was one thing I did like seeing, however – especially since this is Helena Bertinelli (but it would have been almost as true for Helena Wayne) – the costume redesign back toward the version Helena Bertinelli had until just a few years ago, when post-No Man's Land and being gut-shot by the Joker and nearly dying, she nonetheless was put into a suit with a bare midriff (by Jim Lee, of course). What kind of sense does that make? Besides the fact that she's not invulnerable and would presumably want her body core protected, if that's still in continuity I'd imagine that she must have some unsightly scarring there (although to tell the truth they just seem to ignore that aspect of the hard life that our characters live, both male and female.
|Art by Alex Ross|
There is that great Alex Ross depiction of Bruce Wayne's back with scars on top of scars, though). Anyway, I didn't like the bare-midriff Huntress look from the beginning and am glad to see it go.
Not that the cover by Guillem March shows it off very attractively. The interior art by Marcus To is much better.
Thanks for reading, and Cheers!