[Editor’s note: This review may contain spoilers.]
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artists: Giuseppi Camuncoli & Mark Morales, Francesco Francavilla
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
The main story begins with Batman approaching a mansion hidden deep in a Mississippi swamp. The narration tells us of what Batman calls the “window moment,” in which a detective feels that a mystery is being in a dark and terrifying room, but when they find the key to the mystery and everything comes together, it’s like the curtains open and light pours in through the window, illuminating the room.
Batman is having such a window moment. The military group that has been attacking various members of Batman’s rogues gallery, is called the Blackhawks, having taken the name and symbol of the squadron led by the DC wartime hero pilot, Blackhawk. It is unclear if these new Blackhawks are the New 52 incarnation of the Blackhawks or their successors.
Batman has discovered that the camouflage technology used by the Blackhawks derives from the Mad Hatter’s mind control technology, which has led him to Jervis Tetch’s swampland hideout to confront the Hatter.
Batman is confronted by Batwoman, Nightwing, and Red Hood, but realizes they are Blackhawks in disguise, and easily takes them out. He then enters the mansion to confront the Mad Hatter. As he attempts to intimidate the Hatter, he notices that the Hatter is hiding the baseball cap Bruce Wayne used to wear around the time he first encountered Tetch as a WayneCorp employee.
Tetch tells Batman that he had slipped a tag on Bruce’s hat during that early meeting. Bruce had found and gotten rid of the tag, but it had already had a lasting effect. Tetch claims that Bruce’s career as the Batman has been a fantasy life created by Tetch’s technology, allowing a Bruce Wayne to act out his war on crime, while in the real world, Bruce is crippled and confined to a wheelchair.
Both stories are getting exciting now. Batman is now poised to face the true mastermind behind the recent events in the main storyline, and Duke is likewise poised to face the Riddler and conclude his journey through “The Cursed Wheel.”
I particularly like the bits of humour snuck into the story. The first is Batman’s explanation of how he knew the disguised Blackhawks weren’t the real Nightwing, Batwoman, and Red Hood: “My family knows how to #$%^ fight.” The other instance is when Batman doesn’t like what he’s hearing from the Mad Hatter, so he forces Tetch’s face into the swamp water, thinking, “I let him tell Aquaman.” Snyder definitely understands that although it is somewhat understated, Batman does indeed have a sense of humour.
I also noticed that when Duke is talking to Iz, she tells him that if the night doesn’t suit him, to go out by day. Is this perhaps where Duke’s story is headed – to be Gotham’s daytime protector? Also, I have a feeling that the unrevealed superhero name the kids have given him, will finally fix the problem of him not having a sobriquet yet.
One thing I noticed in both stories is that the villains seem to be in on Batman and Duke’s secret identities. Tetch somehow knows Batman is Bruce Wayne, which makes sense if Bruce’s career is a fantasy created by Tetch’s technology. But it doesn’t make sense if Bruce really is the Batman. With that scenario debunked, it begs the question: how does Tech know Batman’s secret identity.
Likewise, I understand that Darryl knows Duke is Batman’s partner from their encounter earlier, but how did he figure out that Batman is Bruce Wayne? And does this mean that the Riddler knows Batman’s secret as well? Hopefully this will be cleared up in further installments.
The main story was great as always, and the backup storyline is back on track. Both stories have ramped up the tension as they head into their finales. We readers are in for a treat.