Judd Winick doesn’t leave too much hanging out from last month’s cliffhanger ending. This story picks up from the shocking, brutal butchering of a police precinct at the hands of Massacre. Winick also furthers Massacre’s quest against the members of the former African superhero team, the Kingdom, by introducing Thunder Fall.
This is the type of world-building a book should be doing under the “New 52” banner. Sure, Batwing is an “official” Batman-sanctioned crimefighter and the Caped Crusader appears in this issue, but the majority of the issue is devoted to the world around Batwing, his secret identity of David Zavimbe, and the world around Zavimbe. Winick writes a believable Batwing, and gives Batwing drive and determination that rival his sponsor. Granted, we do not have the full scope of Batwing’s origin in this title yet, but at this point, we don’t need it.
This issue is every bit as beautifully and disturbingly drawn as last issue. Ben Oliver and Brian Reber are a great duo and their work remarkably blends together. Massacre’s handiwork is horrible and disgusting, but Oliver makes it worth looking at, studying, and appreciating. Yes, it is a severe amount of gore and body parts, but it serves notice of Massacre’s madness. Oliver puts equal care and detail into the rest of the story, regardless of the scene. There are quiet moments in this book, studious moments, and moments of unbridled combat, all of which are explicitly drawn with near-photographic detail.
Carlos M. Mangual gets a full workout on this issue, from whimpering gasps to bellowing shouts, caption boxes to explosive effects. As seamlessly as Oliver’s and Reber’s work blends together, so too does Mangual’s lettering. The trio of visual artists on this book are making the most of their opportunity, and the book is much better for it.
If anything, this issue doesn’t have enough resolution, but the slower pace (driven largely by the results of last issue) does set up a tense showdown between Massacre and Batwing for the next issue. That issue will be the third issue of this series that I will buy, despite my initial indifference to this title.