Written by: Peter J. Tomsi
Art by:Fernando Pasarin, Scot Eaton, Matt Ryan, Wayne Faucher, Chris Sotomayor and Wes Abbott
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: March 9, 2016
I have really enjoyed this story that Peter Tomasi has slowly unfolded the last few months because of the mystery of it all, but also because it is the best Jim Gordon as Batman story we've gotten since this whole crazy thing has started. It's like the best of both worlds as the story could have easily existed with Jim Gordon out of the Batsuit, but having him in it just adds some extra flavor to the jambalaya. I hope Jim brought his "A" game with him this issue because we are two issues in and I have no idea who this history obsessed killer is. I have some guesses, but I'm sure they are dead wrong. Yes, that was my lame attempt at a horror story one-liner and it failed miserably. Let's get on with the review so like the villain of the story, I can save face. Zinger!!!
We open with Gordon and Harvey Bullock trying to figure out where and when the villain will next attack and they are getting no further than myself and by that I mean they have no stinking clue. Gordon thinks it's all about the heroes memorialized around Gotham, but it all runs into a dead end when the little clues they have don't amount to jack shit. Just so you know, Tomasi shows Gordon's frustration when he knocks the rocks off a chess board and possibly takes his ball and goes home.
We then go off to the creepy villain who is making a kick ass version of either bone broth or hobo chili...or both. Whatever it was, it creeped me out and when he filled up a flagon of the wicked broth and took a swig, I got hungry...no wait, I got a little sick to my stomach. The guy tried to lighten the mood by selecting a dog head from the ancient gallery and instead of walking down the hall, he plays a little with his dog. Actually, it doesn't look like he's playing at all. I said "tried" to lighten the mood because after all we've seen with this guy and the way this scene plays out, he's officially hit creep factor ten.
So many writers forget the importance of a great antagonist, especially in the over-the-top world of tights and cape wearing superheroes. Thankfully, Tomasi doesn't because at this point I was already stuffing the villain ballot box with this guys name...if he had one. That's why I know he is a great villain...I hardly know him, but he scares the shit out of me!
Back to the story, Bullock and Gordon are busy trying to gather information (with a little game of bad cop, bad cop) when they are called to the Gotham Zoo. There they find the dog from earlier, but now he is dead and missing a bone. That leads Gordon to the statue of "Balto", right after we see the villain grab his next two victims. After Gordon does some fancy math stuff , he figures out what statue everything is heading towards.
It all comes together to lead Jim exactly where the villain is, but before he gets there, we learn the bad guy's plan. It's bat shit crazy, but also honorable in it's own way and I have to applaud Tomasi here because it's the final piece of the puzzle that will leave you conflicted by the villain and what he is doing. He really seems to be trying to save the world in his own messed up way, he just has gone about it all wrong. Again, who am I kidding? He's a complete nut job!
When Gordon crashes the party, a drawn out fight begins and keeps going...and keeps going. It's actually filled with some good action (and crazy talk) and ends with the villain, who has lost his mask, in a lake. The issue ends with a final page that had me confused only because I thought the story ended this month. Maybe it just did? I'm confused again.
I loved the buildup of this issue. Tomasi uses it to create a great sense of tension and then it explodes in a fight to the finish. Then the finish actually happened and it all came crashing down. I want to see more of what's going on with this villain and actually find out who the hell he is. Here's hoping that we get something about it next issue, but besides the cover, it doesn't look to be the case.
The art by Fernando Pasarin and Scot Eaton was really good whether it was creeping the reader out with the big bad or showing us an explosively cool battle. I really have nothing but praise for the entire art team.
There was also a really good backup that was more visual than anything else. A group of creative teams jumped on to give this book the best goddamn post credit scene that I've ever seen in comics. Just having this there bumped my score up quite a bit.
Bits and Pieces:
I really want to tell you how much I loved this issue, but I can't. While I enjoyed the horror tone and the buildup from the mystery and the slow, deliberate pacing, the ending just wasn't there. Again, I hope we get a little something next month, but I'm not so sure. As an issue, this was good, but as an over sized milestone, it was bit lacking.