So, I was going to be done with Batman for now. I’ve had my fun, let you all know how I feel about the Dark Knight, and was going to just give it a rest until another creative team takes over or there was something worth talking about.
Then I heard that Batman #28 has a knockdown-drag-out between two of my favorite DC Comics rogues: Deathstroke the Terminator and Deadshot. That got my attention, so I gave this story another go.
The funny thing is, I actually dug this one at first. It kind of appealed to my instinct to perceive wanton destruction as being badass. Then I talked to residential Batman-fan Joe Glass about it, and then the glass pane shattered.
To give you a rundown of the plot, the War of Jokes and Riddles continues, with Joker taking the west half of Gotham and Riddler taking the east. Their armies are clashing in the parks on a daily basis and only relenting to allow authorities to collect the corpses.
In the hopes of stopping the madness, Jim Gordon meets with the two leaders to ask what could make it stop. They both want the Batman. Both are promising mass death and destruction should their wish not be granted. Gordon has called in the National Guard to finally deal with the madmen.
However, the situation worsens when the paths of Deathstroke and Deadshot cross, resulting in a high-casualty five-day duel between the two assassins.
There are a lot of things that really do not make this comic work, and I’m going to throw it out there that this story arc has some of the same problems that Secret Empire has.
Firstly, this entire story is kind of summarized. This is something the entirety of “the War of Jokes and Riddles” has done. It’s something that bugged me about #25 and #26, but even they didn’t abridge the story as badly as this one does. It covers so much plot in so little pages, never stopping to explain itself.
Joker and Riddler are dangerous and crafty, but how did they take over the entirety of Gotham? That bears some explaining which this comic doesn’t really do. It’s like how Hydra just kind of miraculously took over the entirety of the United States, but even that has the thinly veiled Trump allegory wherein people actually wanted the Secret Empire to take over.
Also, I struggle to believe that some of these people would throw in with the Joker and the Riddler on these mad crusades. Mister Freeze joining up with the Joker is especially hard to believe and deserves an explanation.
Lastly, the abbreviation of the Deathstroke and Deadshot fight is a freaking crime. This could have been really awesome, but we only get snapshots of the fight with Batman narrating what happened in between. Also, they kill some 60 people in the course of the battle, which seems really out of character for both of these guys. They are incredibly deliberate people; that’s why they are the two greatest assassins in the world. Plus, they’re not nihilists who generally hate humanity. They have their own unique moral codes which one would think would keep them from killing droves of innocent bystanders. Lastly, where did Joker and Nigma get the millions of dollars to convince these guys to work for them?
Also, not to be that kind of superhero fan, but the battle would have been over the moment Deathstroke gets within arm’s reach. Floyd Lawton is good, but he’s no hand-to-hand fighter. Slade has gone toe-to-toe with Batman, the Justice League, and the entirety of the Teen Titans on multiple occasions, and he has a myriad of swords and daggers to boot. I don’t think Deadshot would last long in close quarters.
That being said, the scene in which Batman manages to finally stop them is pretty cool. Bruce has a borderline mental breakdown from the carnage they wrought, and he almost beats Deadshot to death.
As always, Mikel Janin’s artwork is quite good, and the short scenes we see of Deathstroke and Deadshot fighting are really cool. The redesigns of Deadshot’s pre-Flashpoint costume and Deathstroke’s early New 52 armor both look very nice. The pale colors contrasted with the darks of the overall pallet give the comic this ominous atmosphere that show a lot of skill on the part of June Chung.
Joe and I have very similar feelings on Batman #28 for a change. It had a lot of potential, and it used two of DC’s greatest villains. However, the story feels mishandled, and Deathstroke and Deadshot don’t get nearly enough time on the page. The abbreviation of events make the story feel rushed, and it seems like there was a lot of paranoia about this arc taking too long. I can’t recommend this one.
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