A Strange Quest
Written by: Steve Orlando
Art by: Scot Eaton, Ronan Cliquet, Steve Pugh, Wayne Faucher, Gabe Eltaeb and Dave Sharpe
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: November 4, 2015
Boy, this series had a great first issue, right? Dick, Jason and Todd hanging out like brothers, Harper making a grand reappearance and a cliffhanger with Batman holding a smoking gun?!? I jumped in head first and was ready for the ride of a lifetime. So, what the hell happened? While I've read that others have (dare I say it) enjoyed the next three issues even more than that #1, I have not. No sir, I don't like it...is what I'd say if I were a cartoon horse, but since I'm a real human, I'll just say I've been disappointed. Believe me, nothing would make me happier than to be able to give every issue of this series a perfect score because I love the characters, am intrigued with the story and would love to be looked upon as a super positive person. I really would. I guess it's too late for the last three issues, but did this one make things right and turn my frown upside down? Let's find out...
The issue starts out with a Batman and Robin flashback and while that already feels like old hat, I liked this one. I don't know if I'm reading into this scene too much, but Bruce and Dick feel like they've been ripped out of Batman '66 here. In fact, when Batman tells Robin about the failure of the penetrating mic it put a nostalgic smile on my face. It also made me wonder how Batman could tell that Dr. Crane feared who he was meeting with when so little could be seen or heard. Oh well, we quickly see who he is talking with and yes, he should be afraid. It's Orphan.
The problem is, Crane isn't afraid and threatens and even orders Orphan to take him to Prague. If not for Cassandra Cain coming out of the shadows (or a weird statue), I don't know how this meet and greet would have ended, but that's all a mute point as the three of them scatter an instant before the ridiculously noisy and destructive entrance of the Dynamic Duo.
This was an okay opener that serves the purpose of showing us that Cassandra did indeed work with Orphan and they kind of were giving orders to Scarecrow. It also points to the flashbacks heading to Prague in the near future.
Back in the present, we catch up with last issue's cliffhanger of Dick visiting the Drake residence. I know that there is a question of continuity and history here, but I was looking forward to seeing what Dick was up to and what he might find. However, to say this was an awkward scene is a huge understatement. The Drakes welcome Dick into their house and the next few pages are filled with odd actions and awful dialogue. I actually thought they were speaking in code at one point, but no, they were just speaking and acting like idiots. The kicker was when the Drakes told Dick that their son Tim was dead and he asked to see the death certificate. Really? Then Tim's mom tells him, "It's a strange quest..." Yes it is Mrs Drake, a strange quest indeed!
They are interrupted by the doorbell (I think, but this scene has a bunch of really odd sound effects) and low and behold, it's Poppy...with a light axe...attached to a hermetically sealed hand. How does Dick react? He tells her, "Poppy, not now"! The nerve of her. I guess she didn't read "Emily Post's Book of Etiquette and When to Attack People with God Garden Tech".
Next we catch up with Harper and Cassandra who have obviously gotten out of the Batcave and have arrived at the Church for the beginning of the issue. While Harper makes (almost) funny remarks, Cassandra opens the statue she came out of years ago and this time Orphan jumps out. He attacks Harper and says bad things about Cassandra until she cuts off his hand. As he runs off, I think Harper shoots a tracer on him and then Harper hugs Cassandra and tells her everything is okay. I beg to differ.
While all this is going on, the Drake residence has turned into a high tech combination of a panic/danger room with Dick and Poppy doing more damage than Motley Crue to a 1984 hotel room. After Dick takes care of Poppy, Tim shows up and the shit hits the fan.
He has a touching reunion with his parents (the house is actually a bit on fire around them) and then he goes out and punches Dick right in his jerkoff face. While Dick subscribes to the WWBD philosophy, Tim calls bullshit and storms off. Why all the Batman hate? Too soon?
I know I played this review pretty lite, but I didn't like this issue at all. It was just ridiculous and the sooner Steve Orlando gets off it, the better. His dialogue is laughable, he doesn't get the characters at all and what happens this week did nothing but make me laugh for all the wrong reasons. As it stands right now, this book has taken the quickest fall from grace of any book in recent memory.
The art this week was okay which is actually a shock with all the people involved. I was lead to believe that this book was a big deal, so why in God's name is their this many people needed to put together a single issue? At the end of the day, however, the art isn't offensive, doesn't distract from the story and did nothing at all to wow me. Like I said, okay.
Bits and Pieces:
It's starting to feel like a long time since the stellar first issue of this series. Steve Orlando gives fans the worst issue of this series by a longshot and if I wasn't reviewing it, it might have been my last. The dialogue and characters are way off here and the story does nothing to excite me at all. The art follows suit and did nothing to wow me and even made me wonder why so many people were needed to bring it. I had high hopes for this series, but the last few issues and this one in particular has beaten it out of me.