Aren’t They Strange? “Batman” #7 (Review)
Plotted by: Steve Orlando & Tom King
Script by: Steve Orlando
Art by: Riley Rossmo
Batman #7 takes a sharp turn from where the story seemed to be heading, but only in some aspects. On the surface, the story’s major points hit on a lot of what readers could’ve expected, and introduces things for which the series was overdue. It finally puts a main nemesis in the Dark Knight’s (non-lethal) cross-hairs, but the unexpected crossover content from Detective Comics, featuring a guest co-writer from neither series, were things I didn’t see coming at all.
As someone who doesn’t read Detective Comics, I was a bit lost in the first third of the issue. My knowledge of the goings-on in that series extend only to what I learn from the cover art and internet chatter. So while I knew Batman has teamed with Nightwing, Batwoman, and even Clayface recently in those issues, I didn’t know the recent character histories as they’ve unfolded in that sibling series. If you’re in a similar situation to me, be warned that Batman #7 operates on the presumption that you’re all caught up with the entire Batverse. This is a tactic comics use year after year to entice readers to add more to their pull lists, but it does have the adverse effect of alienating those who aren’t completely up to date with the many characters that come in and out of the picture in a major superhero story.
Aside from that cross-promotional confusion, this issue had a few worthwhile bright spots, namely the new penciling done by Riley Rossmo (Proof, Seven Sons) which brings the mainline series a certain grit that you just don’t see from DC’s A-story releases. Some memorable scenes were on display throughout and the whole thing looks closer to All-Star Batman than mainline Batman. The events that unfold in issue #7 were foreshadowed greatly in past issues, so it’s not that these latest 20 pages should be totally unseen, only the metanarrative of who’s doing the writing and illustrating was strange. The monstrosities that emerge in Gotham are strange too, which is merely a tease, not a spoiler, if you’ve been following along.
After such a great Gotham Girl-centric issue with #6, it’s a shame to not see her appear in the immediate follow-up. Even when Batman signals to his cave, only Alfred and Duke are on standby to assist. What she’s up to and how she’s doing are questions that remain unanswered in the latest chapter. What’s left is a paradoxically predictable and unpredictable issue all at once. The stakes are raised and the story is on the right track, I think. So long as they don’t veer unexpectedly off course again.