Batman: Urban Legends #5 – Chip Zdarsky, Marguerite Bennett, Meghan Fitzmartin, Matthew Rosenberg, Writers; Eddy Barrows/Eber Ferreira, Diogenes Neves, Marcus To, Sweeney Boo, Belen Ortega, Ryan Benjamin, Artists; Adriano Lucas, Marissa Louise, Alejandro Sanchez, Antonio Fabela, Colorists
Ray – 8.5/10
Ray: It’s another installment of the Bat-family anthology, with one of the most anticipated new stories of the run. So what’s going on in Gotham this month?
First up is the latest installment of Chip Zdarsky’s Red Hood story. Batman has been captured by Mr. Freeze, who is in the thrall of the new villain Cheer. That leaves Jason on his own to try to rescue his mentor—something he has struggled with before. A flashback to his first solo mission as Robin with Batman captured by the Riddler is compelling, and in the present day this is the most rattled we’ve seen Jason yet. Even though he’s always a wild card, it’s clear his bond with Bruce is as strong as any of the other Bat-kids. The reveal of Cheer’s secret identity is sort of spoon-fed to us, but he’s an interesting villain—a self-proclaimed humanitarian high on his own supply and trying to brainwash everyone else into happiness. Can’t wait for the finale.
Next up are Marguerite Bennett and Sweeney Boo on “Wildcard,” the first story in a while to focus on Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown. The two younger Batgirls, they’ve broken into Wayne Manor to play video games when Barbara contacts them to follow up on a case. Their dynamic is a lot of fun as always, although Cass’ random malapropisms feel new for the character. She speaks a little more like a naive alien character than someone still figuring out language, although there are some great lines about how she views battles. The reveal of the “villain” the girls are chasing is an interesting twist, another tie-in to the CW that was teased a while back, and these characters are always fun to see. Sweeney Boo’s art is fantastic—can we just get a series for the Batgirls already?
Next up is the second chapter of the Tim Drake story. This has gotten a lot of attention with many people feeling like it could be a coming-out story for Tim Drake, and this installment doesn’t exactly dispel that. He seems hesitant to refer to the kidnapped Bernard as a friend, and there’s hints that Bernard’s parents don’t accept him fully. The story does a very good job of exploring Tim’s self-destructive streak and his complex relationship with best friend Superboy and ex-girlfriend Spoiler. Not as compelling? The creepy “Cult of Dionysus,” a disturbing cult of pain fetishists who kidnap and torture Tim as part of an initiation rite. The characterization is strong, the plot needs a bit of work.
Finally, it’s the final installment of the Grifter story, although this isn’t the last we’ll see of the Wildstorm heroes in this book. It’s a ridiculously fast-paced conclusion, almost overstuffed as Cole Cash works with Lucius Fox and Batman against the forces of Leviathan—and proceeds to betray everyone in sight multiple times. He’s almost Constantine-esque in this issue, and the ending doesn’t seem to be so much an ending as it does a prequel. Fun, although its a little chaotic and I can’t say I’m too excited about more Wildstorm characters in Gotham.
Overall, another strong installment although only the first two stories are really A-tier.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.