Written by: Genevieve Valentine
Art by: Alvaro Martinez, Raul Fernandez, Sandra Molina and Joshua Cozine
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: November 18, 2015
It seems commonplace with these weekly books to use phrases like "up and down", "ebb and flow" and "Guess the Kumite starts one day earlier this year, huh fellas?" The show fits once again because after one of the best #1 issues I've read in a long time, the book took a down swing as Tim Seeley and Steve Orlando took over for James Tynion IV. It wasn't much of a surprise when it rebounded last week...when Tynion returned. This week we get Genevieve Valentine and because I simply loved her run on Catwoman, I have high hopes that she will beat the trend. Well, did she? Let's find out...
The issue starts with yet another flashback of Batman and Robin, this time in Prague. The location is no surprise and the guy they are after is pretty much a given. Of course, it's Scarecrow. The scene is very quick and really a setup for the present day when we see Dick Grayson, Harper Row and Cassandra Cain in the Prague Batcave. Yea, that's a thing.
While this version of the Cave will never be featured on Cribs (the whole skull and bones motif is a little off putting), there are other problems. I really liked the banter between Harper and Dick, but Harper says something that really seemed off unless I am a dummy when it comes to anatomy. It involves Orphan and was a shame because it was actually a pretty unnecessary line. We do learn his next target...Sarangarel Jalair, Prima of the Prague Ballet.
While Dick sends Harper (looking sharp in a tux) and Cassandra to the Ballet, Tim Drake and Jason Todd arrive in Gamorra. They might be looking for a lead in the "interference" that caused the Gotham attack on Bruce Wayne, but Valentine also gives us a great Jason Todd moment. It starts out with the usual Jason craziness...he takes Tim into a bar and tries to get him to open up about him and Dick's disagreement a few issues ago. Instead, he opens up to Tim about being abandoned as Robin. It may have only been a couple of lines, but it was my favorite part of the issue and once again establishes Jason as the best character in this series. Oh yea, Red Hood and Red Robin end the scene by "asking" a barfly some questions in the alley.
We then jump in the way back machine again to see Bruce Wayne requesting an audience with Mother only to be told to go to the Ballet, then go back to the present to see Harper and Cassandra at the Ballet and Dick chasing Orphan's tracker which leads...to the Ballet. Me thinks that there is something important about this Ballet thingee.
The issue ends by showing us just how important the ballet is and why everyone has ended up there. It sets up a really cool cliffhanger that has me excited for next week and so glad that Genevieve Valentine has come through with flying colors.
I really enjoyed this issue even if it was mostly setup. Jason and Time were great together and them being in Gamorra is bound to be pretty exciting. Harper and Cassandra were also great together and I can see them coming out of this book primed for the big time together (as new Birds of Prey, perhaps?) Finally, I loved the brief flashback scenes focusing on Batman and Bruce and can't wait to see more. In other words, I really enjoyed this issue. I know I said that above, but I wanted to make sure I got my point across.
I also liked Alvaro Martinez's art a lot, especially his Harper. She might be the craziest example of "every artist gas a a different version", but this is one of my favorites. However, Cassandra might be trying out for an Incredible Shrinking Woman reboot because she really got smaller as this issue went on. In the Batcave she was a good two feet smaller than Harper which felt off.
Bits and Pieces:
Genevieve Valentine gives us the best "Not Tynion" issue in the series and while it was setup heavy, the dialogue and mystery hit the mark. The art follows suit, for the most part and it all came together in a great cliffhanger that has me wanting the next issue right now. If we get a couple more issues like this than this book may jump for my favorite (and only) weekly book to my favorite book period.