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Written by: Brian Buccellato Art by: Bruno Redondo, Juan Albarran and Rex Lokus Cover Price: $0.99 Release Date: January 26, 2016
The Year of the Villains continues this week and while I wasn't a huge fan of last week's issue, Year Five has been good so far. It's kind of a tricky situation for Buccellato since this is the final Year (unless we get a post game continuation...yes please!) and if you've played the game, you know what happens. Of course, the whole “he/she can't die because they are in the game” thing has always been there, but the window of storytelling freedom is getting narrower and narrower with each issue. That's why I love the whole villains thing...it's a combination of awesome characters to get excited about and cannon fodder to up the death and destruction count that fans of this series love. It even goes a bit deeper than that as Buccellato is using the villains, and which side they are recruited on, to further show the gap between Superman and Batman and what they feel is right and just. Like I said earlier, I wasn't a huge fan of last issue, but it did set up what should be a cool issue this week. Did it and is the final Year back on track? Let's find out…
The issue begins with a meeting of the He-Man Superman Haters Club and while I understand what they say they are all about (down with tyrants, up with people), They are only here to set up two things...Bane has called out Batman to fight him at three o’clock in the playground ( actually Wayne Manor) and Harley Quinn has entered Year Five. She finds out that Bane has captured Catwoman and springs into action.
I love Harley, especially in this book, but I want to know why she was even at this meeting. It really didn't seem like her type of thing, unless you tell me the groups infatuation with the Joker lead her there, but even that felt a bit forced. While I'm at it...why would they idolize a lunatic who blew up Metropolis years ago? I guess mass genocide means freedom of choice to these guys. People are weird. Oh well, the end result is Harley going off to rejoin Team Batman so I can set my nitpicking aside...for now.
She does meet up with Batgirl, Batwoman and eventually, Batman and is filled in on the details. Bane has posted a video (on Q Tube???) telling the world that if Batman doesn't fight him, Catwoman dies. After Batwoman shows that she probably still has a VCR (and the clock is blinking “12:00” ), the fight appears to be on like mahjong.
The book then shoots to Bane and Killer Frost hanging together outside of Wayne Manor...at midnight! Poor Bane looks so dejected, I actually felt bad for him. Seriously, if this were a motion comic, Bane would be kicking the dirt. The big guy finally gets his wish when Batman walks out of the Manor and Bane goes to the well one more time and yells “Now I break your back!” Really Bane, you are more of a one-hit wonder than 4 Non Blondes! What? I should have gone with Baha Men or Carl Douglas? It’s my review dammit so What’s Up, bitches!
I’ll put Jim’s list of favorite songs to sing at karaoke aside and tell you that while Bats and Bane are fighting, Batgirl is using a little reverse engineering to figure out where Catwoman is held. Actually, Bane and Frost didn’t really cover their tracks so it was fairly easy to find the location. Back to the fisticuffs, Bane delivers a huge knockout blow that would probably knock a normal man’s head off, but Batman is no normal man, right? I’m not talking about his training or tech here...nope, I’m talking about the fact that he is a computer construct...or a very fragile robot like thingy...or something else entirely. The end result is Batman is not there and that really pisses Bane off.
I had a problem with figuring out what happened, but also why Batman would leave Harley and Batwoman in such harms way afterwards. Luckily, Superman and Wonder Woman show up and while they aren’t on the same side, they want the same thing...Catwoman.
The issue ends with Batgirl actually finding out what everyone wants to know and then being invited to dinner by a killer guest star and Batman showing up with as close to his Super Move as we’ve seen in the series so far. Of course, this puts him and Superman face-to-face...awkward!
I liked this issue enough and am happy that it was a step up from last week, but it still wasn’t great. The whole issue hinged on a gimmick move by Batman and we really are no further along at the end from when we started. It’s all setup for a couple of showdowns and again, knowing what happens in the game ruins a bit of the suspense that the dual cliffhanger would normally have had. Like I said, though, it is better than last issue and I am looking forward to next issue.
I love Bruno Redondo’s art. He really can draw the shit out of any character, but I have to admit, I’m not a huge fan of Killer Frost’s character model. She isn’t in the issue much so it wasn’t a deal breaker and everything else looked great.
Bits and Pieces:
This issue gets Year Five back on the right track and while it was mostly setup, it got Harley Quinn back in the story and that’s worth a million setups if you ask me. The issue ends with two crazy cliffhangers and even if we kind of know who won’t die, I’m still looking forward to next issue.