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We were introduced last issue to a new face, Sebastian Blackspell. He copied other previous super-villain fans of the series we know: Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, and a dramatic ending with Blackspell using Joker's toxins on the Riddler, and now the Riddler's disappeared. Is this the Riddler's return to super villainy? You'll have to read the comic to find out.
This is the second story arc written by Tony Daniel, and it had a lot of potential. Daniel's characterization of multiple characters in the universe of Gotham are fantastic. This particular one introduced Sebastian Blackspell, a refreshing new face in the series. Many of Batman's villains have been in danger (or are in danger) of being overused. Blackspell is an interesting addition to Batman's villainous roster. I hope he returns to cause more havoc for the Bat. Firefly also plays an important part in the story, and Daniel has written him as a very interesting character that is becoming even more prominent in the series. His characterization of Dick Grayson as Batman is the best of all the writers who have already tackled the task. He does a good job reminding you who's under the mask, instead of just some carbon copy of Bruce Wayne.
Riddler fans may rejoice that their favorite mastermind of puzzles is back in action, but they will quickly be disappointed at the rushed treatment he got. Unfortunately the story had to be rushed because of Batman #700. If it wasn't, Daniel could have taken his time and turned the story into a three or even four part saga. He couldn't though, so most of the comic reads choppy. Also, if you have not read the previous issue it is hard to follow what is going on. A noticeable difference between this issue and the last is that this one was more rushed in an attempt to end the story for the sake of making room for issue 700. It also came to an abrupt conclusion that I hope will soon be continued by Daniel.
The ending was not the only thing lacking in the story. The art done by Guillem March does not fit the gritty tone of the story. His work on Gotham City Sirens was pretty and upbeat, focusing on the women of Gotham rather then the men. This is reminiscent in the issue. The colors do nicely compliment the pencils, but belong in a Sirens book rather than this graphic Batman tale.
The previous issue and the first part of this story was much better, but this issue has a lot to offer. More questions arise than answers and hopefully they'll be answered at a later point. I enjoyed this run, and even if you are not a Riddler fan you may too. The story is more graphic than usual, so be aware it has more adult content than the usual Batman themes. The art was also very misplaced in this tale. I enjoy Daniel's writing and am looking forward to his continuation of this run. It was a great story, and I highly suggest you pick up the first part in issue 698 before you read this one. It is an important part of the Riddler's history that should have gotten more attention, yet still a great read nonetheless.