Batman: Urban Legends #2 – Chip Zdarsky, Cecil Castellucci, Brandon Thomas, Matthew Rosenberg, Writers; Eddy Barrows/Eber Ferreira/Julio Ferreira, Marcus To, Marguerite Sauvage, Max Dunbar, Ryan Benjamin, Artists; Adriano Lucas, Luis Guerrero, Antonio Fabela, Colorists
Ray – 8.5/10
Ray: The second issue of this ongoing Batfamily anthology continues three of the main stories—but with a single-issue wild card in the mix.
First up, it’s the next chapter of the excellent Red Hood/Batman team-up by Zdarsky and Barrows. The quality doesn’t decrease this issue at all, with Jason dealing with the shocking fallout of him deciding to kill an abusive father last issue. Flashbacks show how his mother’s abusive boyfriend/dealer was the first step in setting him down this path, and the story does a great job of contrasting how vicious Jason is with criminals with how, when confronted with an innocent and possibly orphaned boy, his best instincts come out. Batman is an implacable force of nature, working his way through Gotham’s crime scene, but the fallout when he and Jason finally confront each other is packed with emotion from years of built-up tension. Jason has been a character in search of a great writer for a long time, and Zdarsky is one of the few to really give the character a compelling storyarc since his return.
Next up is Cecil Castellucci and Marguerite Sauvage on an Oracle story, an epilogue to Castellucci’s Batgirl run. We’ve seen Barbara Gordon slowly slip back into the role of Oracle, and this issue gives us a better look at what a fully mobile Oracle looks like. I like the detail about her having a weapon that doubles as a cane if needed, but most of this issue is about her tracking down a dangerous hacker creating potentially dangerous inconveniences around Gotham by disrupting common functions. Overall, this issue has a strong Barbara Gordon and the plot shows off her intelligence—and lacks any of the distractions of Castellucci’s run like Jason Bard—even if its villain seems to have too many plots to shake a stick at.
Next is the second chapter of Thomas and Dunbar’s Outsiders story, which ended last month with the bizarre cliffhanger of Metamorpho being turned into a living stone tower. While he and Black Lightning seem to have gotten out of that relatively easily, the focus shifts to Katana, who is facing one of the most terrifying enemies of her career—her mother-in-law. It seems that she’s not the only person searching for her late husband Maseo’s soul, and Maseo’s mother blames Katana for seemingly being ready to move on and alienating Maseo. Okay, that’s definitely a new motivation for a villain. This story is one of the oddest Outsiders stories I’ve seen in a while, but it’s a lot of fun.
Finally, it’s the second chapter of the Rosenberg/Benjamin Grifter story, which ended last month with the seeming death of Nora Fries—a huge reveal to come in the final backup of an anthology. But we don’t get those answers immediately—a flashback shows us the origins of Cole Cash’s tense relationship with Bruce Wayne and Lucius Fox, spinning out of his final mission with the government. From there, the issue turns into a chaotic action sequence as Cole continues to resemble a blue-collar James Bond. The main plot, involving Grifter being seemingly framed for the deaths of supervillains, doesn’t come back in until the ending, as Grifter encounters Red Hood and a non-Gotham villain. It’s fun, if a bit too chaotic.
Overall, another solid issue but only the first story feels like a classic.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.