Art by: ACO
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: February 4, 2015
Better Horror Through Chemistry
I have really enjoyed the last couple of issues of Baternal. There are a bunch of reasons, but the main one was the book finally got more focused and concluded one of the dangling plot threads. Sure, it was the Nanovirus one which wasn't my favorite, but it did have a heavy dose of Harper Row which I loved. It also caught the book up to the Batman #28 flash forward issue and for some reason, that was a big deal to me. Last week ended with a Haper Row/Stephanie Brown sleepover that looked like it was plucked right out of a John Hughes movie and that alone was awesome, but Stephanie made it crazy good by the end when she revealed who has been behind Gotham's troubles. She swore that Bruce Wayne is the real villain of Baternal. What What?!?! I don't think there is one person who believes that to be the case, but i couldn't wait until this week to see if we learn anything new. Unfortunately we don't learn much, but that's not the reason why this issue was a disappointment. No, there are other reasons.
The issue opens at Gotham Central and it just felt off. I know that it's the nature of a weekly book and this one in particular to have jarring transitions between issues, but this one seemed bigger than usual. I didn't mind seeing a rundown of some Z-list villains, but when they all spill the beans on who is behind the Arkham troubles, it felt rushed...and underwhelming.
Professor Milo seems to be the man and even with Julia Pennyworth giving a shoutout to Gotham Academy (yea!), I actually rolled my eyes. While the police and Batman are tracking him down, we go off for a very, very brief peek at Batwing. I'm not sure, but what we get from Luke Fox just felt like Ray Fawkes reminding us that he is still out there and will be involved later in the series. There really was no other reason for it. We then pay a visit to my favorite new besties...Harper and Stephanie.
Can every artist involved in this series please get together and come up with a standard way to draw Harper? I'm all for artistic expression, but she has been drawn drastically different every time she shows up. I love Aco's art, but I don't like his Harper. My dislike doesn't end with the art, either. My favorite part of last issue was the whole High School Movie dynamic between Harper and Stephanie. You know, the we aren't alike and shouldn't be friends, but we may just become lifelong pals kind of thing. Ray Fawkes throws that out the window, stomps on it and then spits on it before walking away laughing. They yell, threaten violence, dish out violence and just come off as two awful girls. It's a real shame.
Back with Milo, he's trying to high tail it out of Gotham, but the police and Batman catch up to him in time. In time for him to lay a chemical destruction on the airport and cause all sorts of crazy hallucinations on everyone involved. Batman kind of subdues Milo and then leaves. It really felt odd even after he returns in a bit to finish the job. When he finally has Milo where he wants him (by the neck in the air!), Batman tries to force him to spill the beans. What Batman gets is The Truth and what the reader gets is another cliffhanger.
As you can tell, this wasn't my favorite issue for a whole bunch of reasons. Let me throw in one last one...it was all setup. I am intrigued by the cliffhanger, but everything before it was lackluster.
Besides his Harper Row, I liked Aco's art this week. It went well with Ray Fawkes darker story and while nothing in particular jumped out at me, the action scenes were well drawn and nothing offended me. That may sound like a backdoor compliment, but it's not.
Bits and Pieces:
Ray Fawkes is back, but unfortunately he brought a whole lot of setup. Actually, he brought some other things I really didn't like as well. Maybe this issue and it's interesting cliffhanger will lead to good things in the near future, but this issue was a bit of a disappointment.