Friday, July 11, 2008

Batman Confidential #19 Review

Written by Fabian Nicieza
Art by Kevin Maguire

After a comical and highly entertaining romp throughout the first two parts of this Batgirl and Catwoman team up, the plot finally takes a giant step forward with this issue. That's not to say it's lacking in the things that made the first two issues so much fun, but there's a definite shift in focus as we finally see the makings of an actual story that ties together the fun and games of earlier issues.

Last issue ended with Catwoman sniped in the shoulder and falling off the rooftop. Batgirl, reluctantly, saves her, resulting in the two landing in a garbage bin after Batgirl slowed their fall. The inner narrative, which switches between Batgirl's and Catwoman's point of view, remains one of the best parts of these Fabian penned issues and has me hoping he'll be sticking around on this book or a mainstream Bat-title in the futrue.

Not to be outdone by Fabian are Maguire's expressive characters and masterfully laid out panels. The looks on Catwoman and Batgirl's faces at the end of the issue as Batman stands over their debacle is worth the price of admission alone.

There's a definite shift in focus as we finally see the makings of an actual story that ties together the fun and games of earlier issues.
Speaking of which, after the dumpster diving fiasco, the duo comes to terms in regards to the notebook and we see a little bit of begrudging respect for each other forming between the two girls as they plan to take down their assailant, who has them pinned down with sniper fire.

Using a flashbang, Batgirl blinds the sniper and the two take to the rooftop to find one big, mean Russian guy that almost reminds me of the Russian from Punisher with his size and resistence to pain. He manages to take down Batgirl and Catwoman's punches barely affect him. After taking the notebook from Batgirl, he makes his escape, leaving the two femme fatales to lick their wounds.

It is here that we finally find out more about the mysterious notebook and why Catwoman has been after it. Seems there's a friend of Selina's that's been kidnapped and then used and abused by the Russian mob and she was going to use the information in the Commissioners notebook to blackmail / convince a stronger faction of that mob to release the girl and take out the scum that kidnapped her.

That obviously didn't go to plan with Batgirl on her tail all night, but the two then team up to go save the girl, following the tracking device planeted in the notebook by Batgirl. It leads them to the Russians and, as expected, things go bad with that Russian sniper getting the drop on Batgirl and the Russians getting away, leaving Catwoman and Batgirl to escape from an exploding building only to find Batman standing over them and demanding to know what happened, almost like a father catching his girls doing something wrong. As I said, this scene, as brief as it is, makes this issue worthwhile for me and the fact the rest was incredibly enjoyable is just gravy on top at this point.

Verdict - Must Read. It's out of continuity and many gave up on Confidential after that Joker origin fiasco, but this is a different creative team and the story rocks. At the least, if you don't want to buy the singles, consider picking up the trade in the future.

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