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.
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.