In the world of Flashpoint, the tragically deceased parents of Bruce Wayne, Thomas and Martha, are alive and kicking–each other!

BATMAN: KNIGHT OF VENGEANCE #3 (of THREE)
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Eduardo Risso
Colorist: Patricia Mulvihill
Letterer: Clem Robins
Cover: Dave Johnson
Editors: Rex Ogle and Eddie Berganza
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously in Batman: Knight of Vengeance: Harvey Dent’s twins were kidnapped by the Joker, and Thomas Wayne, also known as the Batman, is on a mission to save them. Unfortunately Jim Gordon mucks things up and gets himself killed, while injuring one of the twins (a sarcastic “hooray” for child endangerment). We then got the reveal that in this alternate reality of Flashpoint, the Joker is actually Batman’s wife–Martha Wayne!

RACE TO THE FINISH

The reveal last issue of Martha Wayne as the Joker works for me on many levels. The dichotomy between Thomas and Martha as the Batman and the Joker seemed an interesting look at the human condition, and how two people can handle the same tragedy in drastically different ways. Additionally the hook of having Batman and Joker be a married couple, and the ensuing joke of “Well they’ve always fought like an old married couple in the regular continuity!” made me chuckle a bit, so overall I was quite satisfied with how the second issue of Batman: Knight of Vengeance went. However, this issue seemed too rushed, yet also as if it didn’t have much content.

 

There is very little dialogue in the issue, and what little there is often takes the form of very terse word balloons. The second page of story is a good example, with five total word balloons, three of which consist of either an ellipsis or a variation on “mmmrrr,” Thomas Wayne’s “nnh-.” While I understand and can appreciate the power of an image-driven story, Eduardo Risso’s art has worn on me, and by this point I’d rather NOT look at the art for the series. The story that Azzarello is telling has a good hook, and if it had been fleshed out and expanded upon I think it could be a really good story, but apparently DC can’t win for losing; when they have six issue series, with the decompression required they always feel like they should’ve ended somewhere between issues three and five, and most of the Flashpoint titles have seemed (at least to me) to have meandered for two issues and then ended abruptly.

 

I would read a Thomas Wayne as Batman ongoing series written by Brian Azzarello (though maybe not with Risso drawing it), but this mini-series left me feeling empty this issue. Part of that I think may stem from the meat of this issue being its flashbacks explaining the origin of Thomas-Batman and Martha-Joker. These are very well done, and a well-reasoned origin (I liked the Dark Knight style origin of the Joker grin, which brings up an interesting ouroboral train of thought with Azzarello and Bermejo’s Joker and Heath Ledger’s Joker), but it doesn’t leave much space for the regular story. The only resolution to plot we really get is Martha agreeing that even if it means both Thomas’s and her deaths, Bruce should be brought back, which we know from the Flashpoint ongoing is Thomas’ goal in fixing the timeline. After that conversation and the fulfillment of some perverse fan-fiction writers dreams in which the Batman and the Joker share a passionate kiss, Martha finds out that when Bruce is restored, he’ll become Batman as well, and she breaks down into hysterics and dies. It’s not a very satisfying conclusion, and while it is final, it left me wanting something more. I can only give the story three and a half stars; as much as I wanted this to be great, it was only barely above average.

IT’S A THUG STORY

I’ll try not to rant about how much I disliked most of the art, since all the arguments are the same that I used in my review of the first Batman Knight of Vengeance, but without as many of the positives I found in that issue. Thomas looks far too much like a thug or Sylvester Stallone after a few too many punches, and as a doctor and a businessman even after devoting his life to fighting crime, he ought to still have his genteel aspect (especially in the flashbacks, while he is still cavorting in high society). One thing I noticed in this issue that I didn’t have a problem with in previous issues (whether it wasn’t a problem, or I didn’t notice it), is the action shots. The first story page has Batman kicking his way into a room, and later on there’s a shot of Batman and Joker falling out of a window. In both situations the characters seem far too stiff.

When I spoke to Kevin Maguire about art at C2E2, his number one tip was that you shouldn’t be drawing action figures, you should be drawing figures in action. It’s all too easy a mistake to make, and it furthered my disappointment with this book’s art. The aspect of Risso’s art that I really did like was Martha Wayne as the Joker. She is delightfully psychotic and disturbing, and the shot where she has cut into her cheeks with blood dripping down and her eyeliner dripping down is very well drawn. But that isn’t enough to make up for the rest of the art. Overall the art gets one and a half stars, with that half star being for the Joker.

BOTTOM LINE

If you’ve already bought the first two books in the mini-series, you might as well shill out the $2.99 for this book. If you haven’t been following it, now is NOT the time to start. If you’re a huge Eduardo Risso fan, you might like this, but there really aren’t a whole lot of redeeming qualities to this issue. Averaging out the scores of the story and the art would make this a two and a half star book, but in my mind it’s only deserving of two stars, which is my final rating.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

The Author

Jimmy

Jimmy

Once upon a time, there was a boy. This boy grew up reading classic literature--Moby Dick, The Time Machine, Robinson Crusoe. At age six, his favorite novel was 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. He devoted his time and efforts into being an incredible nerd, mastering classical literature and scientific history for his school's trivia team. Then he got to college, and started reading comic books. It's been all downhill from there.
Jimmy's favorite writers include Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, Gail Simone, Grant Morrison, Chuck Dixon, Mark Waid and Bryan Q. Miller. His favorite artists are Kevin Maguire, Amanda Conner and Alex Ross, and his least favorite grammatical convention is the Oxford Comma. His most frequent typographical gaffe is Randomly Capitalizing Words.

You can follow his lunacy on Twitter at @JimmyTheDunn

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10 Comments

  1. TaZ
    August 5, 2011 at 12:13 pm — Reply

    Have to dissagree with you on that. I found the entire back story of this issue well written from start to finish. The fact that Thomas Wayne decided against killing Joe Chill with the tool of his trade (a syringe) and instead just BEATS HIS FREAKING BRAINS OUT with his bare hands. Who in this world, if they had a child hurt or killed, would not want to do the same thing? Martha’s self-mutilation and madness were an obvious tip of the hat to one of the stories that the Heath Ledger version of The Joker told and was an interesting turn on a grieving, lonely husband’s loss of both his son’s life and his wife’s sanity at the hands of some back alley slime.

    But the way that Barry Allen’s appearance to Wayne and him actually ASKING his insane wife if he should help change the world was well done. Even better was Martha Wayne’s reaction to Thomas telling her that, should Bruce’s “reality” come to pass The Batman would still exist was an unexpected but still logical reaction. This Joker hates Batman because of WHY he exists (the murder of her son) and she can’t stand the thought of Bruce Wayne becoming what The Batman is…a haunted, driven “Knight of Vengeance”.

    Even to me the art was not a laborious as the review would make it seem. It reminded me a lot of some of the art from the Batman:Year One series and relies on facial expressions rather than surrounding details to tell much of the story. You can’t have but so much dialogue when you’re trying to stave off a wound on a child that’s in shock while a crazed woman is beating you in the head with a ballpeen hammer.

    Another aspect of the Thomas Wayne Batman is seen both in this series and in the “Flashpoint” title. Thomas Wayne never stops being a doctor. Part of the items he carries in his utility belt are drugs, medicines (the packet he uses on the Dent child appears to be an instant would coagulant similar to what military and law enforcement use to stop blood loss from a gunshot wound in the field until medical assistance can arrive). He’s also carrying anti-epileptic meds that he gives Flash in the Flashpoint series to keep this “time-line” from erasing his memories of the “real” DCU.

    As far as a tie-in the Flashpoint the story gives a lot more insight into the sheer hopelessness and darkness of this “reality” that the madman Reverse Flash has “created”. In changing the past of the DC heroes he “created” a world that’s “bad”, dark, without hope, without light in which any “heroes” are merely protagonist, not true “heroes”.

    • JacinB
      August 5, 2011 at 12:52 pm — Reply

      If we’re voting, I think I fall in more with TaZ’s review of the story and the character’s motivations than I do with Jimmy’s.

      • beepbeep
        August 7, 2011 at 1:21 am — Reply

        me too.

        • darklighter
          August 9, 2011 at 9:56 am — Reply

          Absolutely me too. The biggest highlight of Flashpoint has been this twist on the whole Batman Joker fued. The art to me seemed pretty good. There are so many bad artists out there mostly doing Marvel’s stuff (specifically ASM) that to harp on this seems unnecessary.

    • Jimmy
      August 8, 2011 at 7:42 am — Reply

      I do agree that the physician aspect of Thomas Wayne’s character has been emphasized particularly well in the Flashpoint universe, and I actually like that a lot. It serves to distinguish Thomas from Bruce in some essential ways.

      I think the art-driven storytelling would’ve worked a lot better for me had it been someone other than Eduardo Risso doing the art. I would’ve loved Guillem March on it, or Dustin Nguyen, or even someone like Chris Burnham. Though honestly I would’ve been fine with Risso had he not drawn Thomas Wayne as such a thug. When we’ve gotten depictions of Thomas in the past, he’s been a gentleman–after all, as you mentioned, his character is very prominently a doctor. As I mentioned in my review of issue #1 (and tried not to drone on about too much in this one, as I felt I’d just be repeating myself endlessly), my biggest problem with Risso’s art is that Thomas Wayne doesn’t look like the Thomas Wayne we’ve known. I know this is Flashpoint, but there is no reason that he should look that different. And we actually know FOR A FACT that Eduardo Risso’s Thomas Wayne doesn’t look like the Thomas Wayne of the Flashpoint universe, as per Flashpoint #1–on the next to last page, we get a good look of Thomas standing with Martha and Bruce. This isn’t the thick-lipped Stallone-looking Thomas we’ve encountered throughout Knight of Vengeance. And, even in his bat-costume, Thomas in Knight of Vengeance is an entirely different beast from in the Flashpoint title. In Flashpoint he seems a bit taller, thinner, and more of a billowing, ominous Batman–plus he always has that little bit of stubble going on. Risso just seems to completely disregard the character design that Kubert drew up, and it just seems like a lack of professionalism in my mind. I couldn’t get over it, and it really drew me out of the story. With art that had been more consistent to the Flashpoint main title, I probably would’ve gotten a lot more into this title.

    • ikdks
      August 10, 2011 at 1:58 pm — Reply

      Yeah, dude, I think you may have skimmed over this a bit too quickly. There was a lot of subtly and subtext I think you may have missed. Not the least of which is what iconic geological formation lead to the Joker’s death (another nod to the Noland films).

  2. August 5, 2011 at 10:43 pm — Reply

    Loved this series – hope we get to return to Thomas Wayne as Batman somewhere/somehow down the line! Familiar enough to be comforting, yet strange enough to be exciting was my take on the miniseries. Many more stories waiting to be told of the Thomas Wayne Batman!

    • Jimmy
      August 8, 2011 at 7:44 am — Reply

      I would absolutely love the better aspects of the Flashpoint universe to be continued as a part of a Multiverse-related line. As TaZ said, the way in which each “hero” is no longer a hero, but merely the protagonist of their own story, adds a lot to these titles.

  3. DevilsAdvocate
    August 6, 2011 at 8:19 pm — Reply

    As one of those ‘perverse fanfiction writers, I appreciate that you have a sense of humor. I agree that the story could have been longer. Good review!

    • Jimmy
      August 8, 2011 at 7:45 am — Reply

      Thanks! And I knew someone out there (besides Kevin Smith) had to be rooting for Batman and the Joker to hook up!

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