At Batman’s direction Luke Fox takes off for Italy to compete in a Mixed Martial Arts tournament. He’s about to come face to face with Lady Vic and Charlie Caligula, so let’s hope he brought his newly modified Batwing armor!
Cover– Very simple compared to the majority of covers we’ve had for Batwing as a series but in its simplicity lays one such charm. By stripping the Batwing costume of texture we get a better idea of the color gradient of blue and how it runs throughout the entire suit. The background being predominantly orange also allows Batwing’s blue and black suite to pop right off the cover. The Batwing sign is cropped right at the top and he’s in the dead center of this month’s cover. If you haven’t guessed it by now I really do like this month’s cover!
Art-Eduardo Pansica is still on art and it all looks great. The action scenes are the best though and this is clearly his strongest area.
Action– While the fight with Lady Vic was short and Batman’s fracas with the Crime Neavue was also short the opening action scene where Batwing plummets off the building and then recovers is pure gold!
Unified narrative– At first I was wondering about the feel of this book but as the Marabunta from Batwing #20, the gold mine from Batwing #21 and Lady Vic from Batwing #23 all have connections to Charlie Caligula who wants revenge on Bruce Wayne and all things connected it’s all coming together. Caligula and his criminal empire are Palmiotti’s nemesis for our new hero.
Luke Fox– In this issue Luke’s ex-girlfriend Zena makes an appearance after dumping him in Batwing #21. Her father has died and she of course has run back into Luke’s life and bed despite having mixed feelings about their “situation”. I loved how Luke was quick to not just dive back into bed with Zena considering her emotional state. He reminded me of myself back during the single days when no matter who was throwing the cat I would always caution if they are sure this is what they want to do because don’t want to feel guilty for advantage taking or for them to feel regret. I also liked the brief showcase of his mind. Fixing the suit, tweaking it and tying that back into his thesis from college is something I know all too well since I’m in the middle of my master’s thesis as we speak and implementing it at my day job (college teacher). This also further gave Luke a relate-ability factor for me that really drew me in and gave me personal investment in Luke’s life. I could help but think, “I could have been this cat!”
Love– Say what you want about Jimmy Palmiotti’s take on Batwing and DC Comics lack of prominent black characters but every month even as sales slip more and more you have to keep wondering why is this still on shelves? How is this book even marginally profitable? I’m expecting the plug to be pulled soon but Batwing is the last black hope in DC Comics ocean of Eurocentric heroes and the fact that they’re still trying with it despite being a profit driven business gives me hope (albeit small) that mainstream comics are consciously trying to make a change and be inclusive with its superhero brand.
Presence- As a member of the Bat family his profile is woefully unpublicized and his presence is near none existent in any other DC Comic books. If this book is going to attract new readers in any meaningful manner DC Comics or the creative team themselves will need to aggressively market this brand and character to either lost readers or new ones.
Luke Fox is a polarizing character he lacks the depth of the original Batwing/David Zavimbe and as a result it will take readers longer to warm up to or identify with him. As characters like Spider-man and Kyle Rayner proved with their popularity it’s always better (sometimes) when a character has a broad audience of appeal especially if they plan to hold onto cult status in any way. Batwing is never going to be Robin, Batman or Nightwing and thinking that may be a problem but if it can hold onto a dedicated fan base that may serve him better than trying to woo the masses.
Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti’s Batwing gets better every month and I can see the unified narrative coming to the fore as well as their global scope for our titular character. I still think Batwing needs to be made Batman’s new sidekick in pretty much all his books for about two months so we can raise the level of awareness for the character but in the meantime Batwing is the Big Black hope in DC Comics new 52 line, when books like Static Shock, Voodoo and Mister Terrific have crashed and burned he continues to soar. I can’t give this issue anything less than a 4/5
Batwing is the best book you’re not reading! BUY IT!