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This is probably the shoddiest stone paving the road of Bruce Wayne – The Road Home. It does not further the story and the art is nothing special. It is a rather mediocre tale that is a bit of a let down from previous Batman one-shots, not that they were fantastic to begin with. It is sad this story turned out so poorly since it was so well foreshadowed in Bruce Wayne – Road Home: Red Robin #1 (such ‘creative’ names, by the way).
The Insider comes to Markovia to visit his old team, the Outsiders. He sets up a false assassination attempt on Prince Brion to test them and gets a bit more than he bargained for when they mistake him for the assassin.
The story is interesting at key points. Watching the Insider battle the Outsiders was a great time to capitalize on his suit’s abilities: he’s armed and dangerous and finally we get to see it! Katana is also a great character that should not be as underrated as she is. She is written as a strong and confident person with power and brutality that could match the Huntress’. Everyone else is rather boring, probably because the average reader does not know them very well and could care less about what happens to them, let alone what they do in this issue. The writer does an okay job mostly by not putting too much emphasize on past events faced by the Outsiders that the average reader probably will not get lost because they do not read the ongoing series. This issue is also more of a stand-alone piece so you do not need to read the other one-shots to understand the plot – on the negative side this also means if you are looking for the continuation of Bruce Wayne’s return you will not find it here.
Mike W. Barr’s writing does not further Vicki Vale’s story either. Most Batman one-shots dedicate half the comic to Vicki’s quest but this one only spared a few pages. She talks with Jack Ryder, better known as the Creeper, and it was disappointing that he never once transformed into his alter-ego. I would like to see the Creeper in an Outsiders comic, not just his news reporter counterpart. Even just adding some of Ryder’s inner bickering with the Creeper would have been humorous, yet he is still completely omitted. Definitely a let down there.
Even worse are Javier Saltares pencils. They are sharp and make the expressions worn by the characters look like they belong in a Saturday morning cartoon. They are way too over-dramatized. The way he draws Bruce Wayne also makes him look like a character out of an anime. The backgrounds are also neglected and lack detail that could make them more breathtaking. The colorist helps the art become a little more bearable though.
The colors done by Pete Pantazis are bright and a nice change from the usually dark colors of the Gotham universe. It was nice to take a breath outside of Gotham and into a more colorful area… which did seem a little out of place during the assassination attempt, which I would imagine to have a more grim interpretation. But when Looker uses her abilities the quick color change capitalizes on her powers very well.
This story had the potential to be great, but poor writing prevented it from becoming something pivotal to the plot. The art made it even worse while the colors helped redeem it… some. Just not enough to make it worth reading.