Filed under: Comic Reviews, DC Comics | Tags: AFRICA, Batman, Batwing, dccomics, OLIVER, WINICK
Over issues 1 to 3, Batwing has been the most enjoyable of the ‘Bat-Books’ and has also been, out of the 52 other titles, the most surprising. The premise of the book is overwhelmingly silly and reminds me of a phase my younger brother went through when he had to prefix every noun with the word ‘bat’, occasionally in reference to the cartoons and movies but more often than not of his own invention.
Although Batwing seems like nothing more than a capitalist desire to get as many of the new 52 books to bear the word ‘Bat’ and thus become part of what is arguably the most popular ‘universe within a universe’ it is more than just a thinly veiled attempt to make money from a brand. Add on to this the seemingly relentless desire to fill up a quota of comic books with ethnic minority characters Batwing should really be my least favourite of the DCnew52. Instead, it becomes one of my top books.
Batwing is certainly not a Bruce Wayne clone, in fact David Zavimbe is a man with a chequered past and a difficult history that is now being touched upon in Batwing #3. After losing his parents to AIDS as a young boy, Zavimbe overcame his early start as an orphaned child soldier to become a police officer in the fictional city of Tinasha in the Democratic Republic of Congo. As well as fighting corruption every day through his work he is also sponsored by Batman to become Batwing.
In the earlier issues of Batwing we have seen Zavimbe suffer personal tragedy as almost all of his coworkers were massacred, get stabbed in the back and begin to uncover details of a large scale murder plot all at the hands of a chap called Massacre.
I have heard a lot of hate for this book, even from the mouths of hard core Bat-Fans and whilst I’ll appreciate that Batwing might not be to everyone’s taste I am also hearing a lot of hate and even more worryingly, disregard from comic book fans who wont read the book thanks to a few risque panels in Judd Winick’s Catwoman #1. Winick, who a lot of you are bitching about wrote the screenplay for ‘Under The Red Hood’ that you all love so much, as well as the unbelievably brilliant Justice League: Generation Lost with Kieth Giffen.
In essence what I am saying here is please calm down on the ‘I hate Catwoman because I’m not a sexist’. We are out of the aftermath now, there is no need to miss out on perfectly good comic books because you feel you have a point to make. At least be prepared to give this book a try before you slate it.
Getting off the soapbox and back to Batwing #3 there are a few things that really stand out to me in this comic. Firstly its prologue which looks back 11 years to Zavimbe’s time as a child soldier. Most westerners will likely agree with me in saying that images of this are deeply shocking. In Batwing #3 the subject is dealt with using incredible sensitivity yet still maintaining its truly brutal and shocking nature. Nothing short of a great writer can weave this into a characters backstory without it coming off as tragic or as if looking for a cheap shock.
The aspects of Batwing and Thunderfall’s character that come through in issue 3 are great though I’m looking forward to hearing and seeing more from Massacre. It seems as though he has some extremely complex motives that I don’t think have been fully explored yet. As well as appealing characters and an entertaining and dynamic story, one of the main draws to Batwing has been the art. Ben Oliver’s figurative work is excellent and the range of movement throughout the comic, particularly the fight scenes really brings Winick’s ideas to life.
Artist Ben Oliver has been involved in some exciting projects during his career. As well as several Judge Dredd stories with John Wagner, he has worked on Andy Diggle’s The Losers and Ultimate X-Men with Robert Kirkman. However, I feel he is being a bit lazy on Batwing #3 with respect to backgrounds. With Batwing being set in Africa they have the opportunity to make this book one of the most unique looking of the DCnew52. Out of 71 panels in this issue only 9 have proper backgrounds that are more than haphazard brush strokes meant to look like grass. I would like to see this sorted out for future issues please.
Special mention on the Batwing series has to go to Brian Reber on colours. The beauty, movement and mood within panels all comes from his excellent work. You can almost feel the heat during these fight scenes coming right off the page. I recommend checking out more of his work on his deviant art page here.
If I have achieved anything from this review it will hopefully be that some of you who have ignored Batwing after the ‘Catwoman Debacle’ will now give the book a try and be surprised at just how good it is.
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