For all the Bat-books I’ve reviewed over time, I can’t believe I’ve never talked about Batwing, which has been a title I’ve enjoyed since its beginning.
For those people who may not know, the “Batwing” has often been the alternative name for the flying vehicle that’s been referred to as the Batplane. But DC, anxious to create comics that have a diverse appeal, gave the name a serious upgrade and turned it into a superhero code name. Since the book began at the start of the New 52, the hero inside has been black, first a member of Batman Incorporated located in Africa and, more recently, the son of Lucius Fox back in Gotham.
Previously in BATWING: “Gotham City has been invaded by an army of criminals sent from the Gotham Underground! Batwing must defend his home and live through his first meeting with his most dangerous foe yet: Menace!”
A LITTLE MORE ABOUT BATWING
Luke Fox is an American mixed martial artist who had been Batman’s first choice in the role of Batwing.
When writing duo Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti took over the book starting with Batwing #19 (June of 2013), Fox finally became the new Batwing, Luke Fox, unrelated to the previous one. The new Batwing character who would no longer be the “Batman of Africa,” but be more international.
Now Luke’s getting his chance, and he’s doing a good job in Gotham City and elsewhere.
THE SCRIPTING MAKES LUKE AND THOSE AROUND HIM VERY INTERESTING
Palmiotti and Gray have been writing favorites of mine for quite some time, and one of the strengths they bring to their work is an ability make characters “breathe,” as I like to say.
Sometimes in comics, the lines between people are blurry, with the only way to differentiate them being what powers they have or if they are male or female. P&G have never written a character I didn’t “get” when it came to who they were or why they did what they did. That’s HUGE benefit to readers like me!
For instance, in the current storyline, Luke’s sister Tam has been missing. When she’s found, it seems that she may never fully recover.
Luke and the rest of his family take this news very hard, and Luke decides it’s time to find those responsible for his sister’s condition and make sure they pay.
I can relate to that kind of feeling. If something as horrible had happened to my sister, I’d be pretty angry as well! That makes Luke someone I know, not someone I see.
Another powerful tool that P&G use is their ability to integrate action into their stories.
When Luke finds the underground lair of the people he’s looking for, he’s stunned by the sheer scope of the place. Also, there are many obstacles he’s having to take on in order to find the people he’s looking for.
It’s action, action and more action all the way!
THE ART CAN HANDLE ALL ASPECTS OF THE SCRIPT
The art by Ferreira and Pansica is very strong, portraying both the dramatic sequences as well as the action very well.
My favorite sequence is when Batwing realizes he’s not in Kansas any longer when he’s gone underground. The art is pretty clear, and it made me wonder just what Batwing is going to be up against down there. Well, in the issue’s last panel, we get a very good idea that he’s in way over his head!
What works well is the Batwing armor as well. It’s something of a cross between Batman Beyond and Iron Man, pretty tough but also chock full of weapons. You’ll forgive Luke if he’s a little overconfident in there. Hey, I would be, too!
BOTTOM LINE: Batwing is a Good Member of the Bat-family of Comics
I often rail against putting minority characters into identities created by others. I think that if the heroes are strong enough, they don’t need to take over from someone who’s done much of the heavy lifting. That’s why I like Batwing. He’s close enough to the Dark Knight, yet far enough away to have his own identity. I wish more diverse characters had either their own hero identity or were at least close enough to another hero that they can carry on the tradition, yet in their own way.
This issue is a good place to jump on, so if you’ve been away for a while, consider coming back to Batwing.
What frustrates me about Batwing is that I keep reading online that this title may not be long for the New 52. The current characters and set up have a lot of excellent potential, and I’d hate to see Luke fade into the background when I find the comic very enjoyable.
If you like Batman and haven’t checked out this newer direction for Batwing, I encourage you to try it out. It’s a significant member of the Bat-family, and I hope it continues on for a long time to come!