Batman #689 continues Dick Graysonâ€™s incremental takedown of the Penguinâ€™s many underworld schemes, thanks to tips from an anonymous source.Â But like any good would be kingpin, Oswald Copplepot isnâ€™t going to take these attacks lightly.
Whatâ€™s interesting about Dickâ€™s taking on the role of Batman isnâ€™t that heâ€™s fighting all of Batmanâ€™s old foes in a new way, but his attitude while doing it.Â Instead of the grim and gritty Dark Knight, Dick actually enjoys his work – for what it is worth, and it shows in the many surveillance videos of the hero in action.Â Unfortunately, the Penguin is not to happy about the latest rounds of attacks, and teams up with Black Mask to unleash a trap on the hero.
While Bruce had the Joker, Dick has always had an enemy in Harvey Dent. With the reappearance of Batman in Gotham City, Two-Face is starting to piece things together as Judd Winick and the rest of the Batman Universe writing teams begin to shift Two-Face to the top of Batmanâ€™s Rogues List.Â Winick does a really good job in this issue by showing how far Harvey is willing to go to figure out what is going on, and easily shows how much Two-Face and Batman are enjoying their new roles.
I also like the interplay between Dick and Alfred in this issue.Â Instead of the stoic passive-aggressive exchange Bruce and the Batmanâ€™s batman had with one another, Alfred is actually having a moment as he adjusts to the changes. Itâ€™s nice to see this in a Batman title, as readers no longer feel the pressure on their chests from the oppressive nature that was Bruce Wayne.
And since this issue is called Batman, it is also welcome that Damian appears in name only in this issue. Heâ€™s an interesting character that is starting to grow on me, but too much of the brat will have me quickly reaching for the phone the moment DC sets up an 800 number asking people to call in to vote to see if he lives or dies.
Throughout the issue, Winick does a good job of letting the reader know that Dick knows all the tips heâ€™s been receiving are only setting him up for a trap down the road.Â The payoff comes at the end, when the trap is sprung before Batman is really ready to deal with the return of Clayface (looking especially horrific) and a new baddie in the form of The Soldier.
Mark Bagley takes up the pen and ink for this issue, and does a fantastic job.Â There are times when his pencils look a great deal like Jim Lee, yet remains his own throughout.Â As mentioned above, I like what he has done with the single panel appearance of Clayface, and hope he can stretch this villain out a truly terrifying creature.Â The only weird panel in this issue occurs when Batman shoots exploding fire retardant at a building all ablaze. There is a shot of those trapped inside making their escape, and because of the cool coloring of the panel, and the white foam looking like ice or snow, everyone in the panel appears to be frozen in mid-flight.Â Itâ€™s a little jarring each time I look at it, which probably means I should stop looking at it.
Overall, I like what Winick is doing with Dick Grayson and his run as Batman.Â The story is tight enough that it doesnâ€™t slow down, and isnâ€™t too outlandish to make me through up my hands in disgust – though the jury is still out on the flying Batmobile. Batman #689 is an engaging read, and one that readers will want to pay attention to down the road as villains rise, a new Batman adjusts, and something big begins to build.Â Iâ€™m giving Batman #689 4 out of 5 Stars.