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Batwing #15 – Review: DC Editorial Strikes Again?

It's like the old Sudden writer changes are becoming way too common with DC Comics, and Batwing is the latest victim of whatever is going on behind the scenes that is causing writers to bail. But to be fair, Fabian Nicieza is a pretty good choice to take the place of Judd Winick on a book. After all, Nicieza was dealing with controversial social issues in his comics books well before Winick came along. He's a logical choice to pick up where Winick leaves off.

Unfortunately, Nicieza is having to pick things up in the middle of a story. It's stuff like this that really makes you wonder what is going so wrong with DC. Think about it. If you were a write who had decided to leave and were doing so on good terms, wouldn't you do so by finishing your last story? Instead, Winick seems to have left in a hurry with the Father Lost story still in progress. Not only does this hurt the story but it also cuts the legs out from under Nicieza's debut on the book.

So Nicieza's first issue of Batwing sets about the problematic task of wrapping up Winick's Father Lost story. I'm assuming Nicieza wanted to get this out of the way as quickly as possible, because that sure is how the issue reads. The pacing is fast. Too fast, I would say. It moves through the motions of the plot in a rush to get it all done and resolved by issue's end, leaving me unsatisfied with really all of the developments hurried past.

It's a shame, because I actually thought Father Lost made for a very good Batwing villain. It wouldn't be a stretch to see him as Batwing's own Joker. He has that mania about him but also a thematic connection to Batwing in that he enslaves young people to do his bidding much like Batwing's own origin. I was looking forward to seeing how things would play out between them, and I'm disappointed with what we get. Nicieza does draw a nice parallel between them in regard to their different ways of dealing with a life of pain, but that comes on the tail end of a lot of psychobabble crammed into the story. It's possible this all would have played better if it was allowed to over the course of two issues rather than the one.

I've been less impressed with the character of Dawn, another character from Batwing's childhood. It doesn't help that this issue hastily shuffles her off the stage and we don't really get around to explaining her new life as one of Africa's superheroes. Given how strongly tied she was to Father Lost, you'd think she would play a greater role in the rest of the story. I guess whatever role she was meant to play left with Winick.

There's a new development with Kia Okura, Batwing's friend from the police force. It kind of comes out of nowhere too. This is really something that should be built toward more naturally rather than thrown into a story like this. If she realizes what Nicieza implies that she realizes, it comes off pretty forced and not earned. I can understand wanting to pursue this new story thread, but it would have been better saved for later when it could be rolled out more naturally.

Oh, Father Lost. I wanted your story to be so much better than this.
For the most part, I would say it is hard to judge how Nicieza is going to do on Batwing from this issue. Since it's the conclusion of Winick's last story, it's not really an opportunity for Nicieza to show us what he plans on doing. There is, however, something that leaves me worried about where he might be going. Batwing gets a little bit Iron Man here. There is a lot of unappealing technobabble that is used to aid in wrapping up Father Lost's story quickly. Pseudo-scientific gadgets save the day, basically. That's never really been what Batwing is about, though. What I appreciated about Winick is that he tended to keep Batwing's armor reasonable. Okay, there was the holographic display that pushed the boundaries last issue. But other than that, Batwing has tended to roll out things like flashbang grenades and other more grounded weaponry. Now, he's having his cybernetic link rewired to counteract mind control and emitting brainwave signals. What? Stuff like this tends to not only be uninteresting for the vague science of it all but also a cheat in the story as far as resolutions go. It's deus ex machina territory, and I prefer to stay away from there for the most part. Hopefully, Nicieza only resorts to this get this one story out of the way. Because if this is a taste of how Batwing is going to be portrayed going forward, there's a good chance I will lose interest.

DC's handling of this creative team transition doesn't bode well for the future of Batwing. Fabian Nicieza and Fabrizio Fiorentino don't get to have a proper debut issue, and as a result, we end up getting a rushed and unimpressive first issue from the two. It would be easy for someone to read this and decide the loss of Judd Winick is enough to stop reading. However, I think I'll try to give Nicieza the benefit of the doubt on this one. I like this character and the world that's been created about him. I also know Nicieza is capable of some really good stories. The least I can do is wait this out to see what he can do when he gets to tell a story of his own.



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