Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Tony Daniel and Sandu Florea
I was really impressed with this penultimate chapter in the Batman RIP storyline. The storyline is still far from my favourite story ever, but this month's offering manages to take most of the negatives the previous chapters had and fixes those problems to tell another insane, yet focused, story.
The story follows two points of view - one from Batman and one from the Joker - and shows us how the Black Glove reacts to Batman's arrival, mostly with disbelief that the brightly coloured, raving lunatic is actually him.
Along the way, we see Joker set loose and he promptly kills off most of the badguys set up to stop Batman in the first place. I'm not sure what the point of having these villains introduced was if the only plan was to have Joker kill them all - off panel at that - but it lead to an entertaining confrontation between Batman and Joker, one where the Joker was the more sane of the two, and that made the issue for me. In fact, the entire issue, with the exception of one short cameo of Commissioner Gordon being saved by Talia and Damian, was designed to lead up to the showdown with Batman and Joker.
After a short non-fight between them and lots of talking heads, we get to Jezebel Jet and her damsel in distress routine. Batman actually takes off his mask during his attempt to save her and she calls him Bruce the whole time, which makes me wonder if Joker now knows he's Bruce Wayne or not, but I'm sure that will be retconned away along with the "new" Joker featured here.
The issue ends with Batman trying to save Jet from the toxic flower pettles only to, from what I can tell, succomb to poison himself. Meanwhile, Jet rises from her restraints and it's revealed she's been a plant from the start, which explains a lot, to be honest. It was pretty much a given she was based on how easily she became the love of Bruce's life and the whole trigger word thing from a few issues ago. I think Morrison did a horrible job building her up to this point and it was one of my main complaints about many of the plot points throughout his run. This doesn't make it all better, but it's at least comforting to know she'll be gone when this is all over.
Verdict - Check It. In the end, not much happened until the last few pages, but it was still a much better outing than previous issues. Where the others seemed to be lacking any kind of editorial restraint or focus, this issue managed to combine the insanity of previous issues with a tempered direction and story progression that really worked in comparison.
Written by Robert Kirkman
Art by Ryan Ottley
This is what I'd call an average issue of Invincible. If you've read Invincible before, and you should have, this isn't necessarily a bad thing, as it's always a great read and an average issue is still better than most, but, aside from the little bit with Kid Omni-Man at the end, there wasn't much happening in this issue. I still enjoyed it a lot and recommend it, but, again, it's an average Invincible issue.
I think the problem arises from the fact there's no real focus or direction to the issue. We go from relationship stuff with Atom Eve to random moving boxes out of his dorm and checking in on his friends to the generic super villain fight and then back home for a final talk with his brother. It just lacked any kind of flow and felt like a mish mash of random scenes instead of a connected story.
While all of these scenes worked well on their own - I particularly liked the fight where Invincible tells one of the villains trying to escape to get back in his cell and he promptly runs back in - none of them really stood out as important either, with the exception of the final scene.
Speaking of which, that final scene with Mark and his brother say Kid Omni-Man 'apologizing' to Mark about how he reacted to the killings from last issue and he appeared to be trying to see things from a human point of view. All of this was fine until the last panel where, as he's hugging Mark, his facial expression makes it clear that he doesn't believe a thing he just said and it looks like he's going to be turning on his brother soon. Makes me wonder if we'll see him joining up with Cid or if Invincible will have to take down his own brother or not.
Verdict - Check It. Good issue that sets up some future storylines, but just doesn't scream "Must Read" to me.
Written by Peter J. Tomasi
Art by Don Kramer and Jay Leisten
What was a painfully generic "Scarecrow fear toxin hallucination" story ended on a very strong note with some great Harvey Dent / Two Face characterization. Much like most of Tomasi's run, the actual plot of this storyline has been a real detriment to his otherwise great characterization and interactions. The art didn't do this month's offering any favours either.
After taking some bullet wounds from a mysterious sniper *coughTwoFacecough* last issue, it is revealed the bullets were laced with some of Scarecrow's fear toxin. Nightwing, unable to rest as the girl he's trying to save was taken captive, rushes headlong, toxin still in his blood, to save her and is confronted by the entire Batman rogue's gallery.
Obviously, this is not real and we're treated to some generic 'conquer my fear' fight scenes with each villain that all ends up being fake (shocking, I know). Nightwing ended up just beating on some hired goons and it's revealed Two Face is the villain trying to kill the witness. Yes, it was painfully obvious he was the one behind the contract on her, but he also requested Nightwing's help in saving her, so there was still room for it to be someone else.
In the end, Two Face ends up killing the woman and leaves her to die as he goes off to collect his reward from the people that hired him. It is here that my opinion of this issue really changed as it's revealed Harvey Dent and Two Face were at odds with each other. Harvey was trying to stop the Two Face persona from killing her and, after receiving his money, he's shocked to hear on the television that the woman died. He lashes out at his employer, killing him, all the while screaming about how Nightwing was supposed to save her. I can't recall there ever being a clear distinction between Two Face and Harvey Dent before - at least, nothing on this scale - and I think it added a nice touch to the character and I'm curious to see where it goes from here.
Verdict - Check It. A rather lackluster issue with a solid ending.