Mail Order Death
Written by: James Tynion IV
Art by: Tony S. Daniel, Sandu Florea, Mark Morales, Tomeu Morey and Carlos M. Mangual
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: November 11, 2015
I have not been the biggest fan of this book lately, but that's something you get used to when reading and reviewing a weekly book. There is an ebb and flow to the whole thing which really shows when there are multiple creative teams involved. It sucks when you don't like a particular team when they jump on, but you can always weather the storm for a couple issues until they leave. Hey, I'm trying to look at things with a glass half full attitude for once in my life. If you read my reviews or listen to our podcast (HERE), you know that I've had to weather an extended storm lasting four issues. Yes, I was a huge fan of Tynion's first issue, but the followups by Seeley and Orlando didn't really do it for me. Well, Tynion is back this week and while I do think that the big wigs (Snyder and Tynion himself) are keeping the good stuff for themselves (or because of it), I hoped this issue would get the series back on track. Well, did it? Let's find out...
The issue opens with Dick looking in at Bruce and the kids at the Rec Center. At first I thought he was teaching them a science lesson, but in fact, he is just making their TV work...or possibly hooking up illegal cable, I'm not sure. No matter, the quick scene just hammered home the point that there is no Batman to help out, even if he is desperately needed.
The first thing that readers will probably notice this week is that Tony Daniel is back on pencils. I would normally rejoice at that fact, but something is amiss here. It's all in the eyes...
I'm not sure what went wrong, but these eyes aren't windows to the soul, they are just downright creepy. Old walleye Dick here is just one example, but there are plenty more this week.
Back to the book, we jump to the worst Church in comics, St. Elijah, where Dick and Jason Todd (also walleyed) are trying to figure things out. This is my favorite part of the issue and not because of anything they say, but just how they say it. It's nice to read natural dialogue especially after the robotronic crap we've had to deal with the last few weeks. I know it's still early in the series, but Jason is my favorite character and Tynion writes him so well here.
After the two of them find Orphan and Cassandra's hidden hideout beneath the Church (how did Batman miss it years ago?), we get an extended Batman and Robin flashback that was so good and sorely needed to get this story going again.
The flashback picks up after the failed attempt to catch Orphan and Scarecrow last issue and if you are a fan of Dick Grayson's Robin, you should get a kick out of it. Dick is just so enthusiastic to gain Batman's praise and ends up on the wrong side of a Scarecrow trick. Afterwards, Bruce tries to console his young ward, but Tynion does a great job showing that Bruce might be a great crime fighter, but he's still struggling as a father figure.
Bruce has to leave the young Robin to punch his misery away because he is hosting a fundraiser and has to make an appearance. This is the part that propels the story forward. Bruce talks to his "friend" Maxwell and the conversation goes from Fatherhood to Dick Grayson to Maxwell buying his wife from Mother for forty million dollars to...holy shit, what the Hell just happened?!?! This Maxwell sure has some loose lips and even tries to justify buying a kidnapped woman from Prague by comparing it to Bruce taking in Dick. Listen pal, you can dress it up all you want, but buying a person who has been altered to fit your needs is nothing like adopting a young boy whose parents were murdered...or is it? That's the thing...the way Maxwell explains it, it seems more similar than I could have imagined.
While Maxwell started the whole conversation with a little too cavalier attitude towards the whole thing, he quickly shuts up and even tries to play it off as a joke when he sees a miserable looking guy at the party. Strange.
The flashback ends with Bruce connecting the dots, but a little too late to save Maxwell and his wife. As he discovers that horrible truth, he begins to put together a file on Mother and wonders if he may be as guilty as Maxwell said earlier. I haven't been a huge fan of these flashbacks, but that ended here. I loved almost everything we got from it this issue and really liked seeing the beginnings of Batman's case against Mother and the "Man in White".
The issue ended with Jason convincing Dick to change up the game a bit and not do things like Batman. While I hate the constant Batman bashing that this book has already fell into, it gets Cassandra and Harper back into the mix so I'll deal with it. Then there is the cliffhanger which shows that everything that has happened in this book so far is all going according to plan...Mother's plan. Duh, Duh, Duhhhhh!
This wasn't the slam dunk that the first issue was, but it's still my second favorite issue of the series. It may have been complete setup, but the dialogue was good and there were no head shaking scenes and that's a plus. The book is heading to Prague and I'm back on the trolley.
I said (and showed) it above and I'll say it again...the art was a bit off this week. While the set pieces were great and most of the character work was fine, those damn eyes kept popping up. Maybe it was just me, but it kept throwing me out of the story. I expect more from Tony Daniel.
Bits and Pieces:
James Tynion is back on the book and while he brought a bunch of setup, he also brought some cool scenes and dialogue to boot. We get to see the moment Batman became aware of Mother and end with most of the Bat Family heading to Prague. The art was a bit off, which was disappointing, but this issue has me excited for the series again and that is enough for me.