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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Batwing #12: A Critical Response

Last week, Newsarama.com ran "BATWING Goes Global for JLI, Back to Africa for ZERO MONTH," an interview between Vaneta Rogers and Judd Winick. Included in that article was a quote about Winick's hopes for Batwing #12.

Nrama: Fans of your work on Justice League International are looking forward to you writing some of those characters again. How was it for you to return to them in the New 52?

Winick: Oh, it was a blast. I wish it was longer. I had 20 pages to do a lot. I wanted Booster to talk more, you know? So I could write him! I could have done 60 pages on these guys.

But it was really fun to get back to those guys for just a little bit. Just a little bit. I loved doing that entire run. It was fun for me when they announced that Batwing had joined the JLI. I'm sorry to see the book go. But it immediately opened the door for this. I said, "Oh! Can they come play over here? Please?"

I had this idea about this big old fight in Africa, and I thought they could come along. I knew it would be great. And I really enjoyed writing it.

That's what issue #12 is. It's one of those big superhero issues where it actually feels right. You know? You only get to do it now and again where it feels right and makes sense, and doesn't feel like an overload — a whole, big old superhero dogpile. That's what we have for issue #12. It's good fun.

While Winick may have intended Batwing #12 to be a "big old fight," the issue as published feels more like a bait and switch. Yes, Winick sets the scene for a battle royal by establishing bad-blood (and international intrigue!) between the combatants before maneuvering them into their respective corners. But just as the opening bell is rung, the broadcast edits the match for time and cuts straight to the finale. How disappointing!

The issue is all pre-fight and post-fight, with nothing in between. If I only wanted to know who won the fight, I could skip watching the bout and read the headlines in tomorrow's newspaper. Even that would be a waste of time here, since there's never any doubt that the forces of good will ultimately triumph over the forces of evil in mainstream comic books. If we're not paying to see the fight, what are we buying with our $3.00 admission ticket?

To be fair to Winick, he is just part of the team of creative personnel and editors responsible for the finished product. Perhaps penciller Marcus To forgot to include the panels with the real action. Throughout the issue, it's unclear how one panel is supposed to lead to the next; maybe To doesn't understand that sequential art is similar to film making in how it's supposed to tell a story. Or maybe issue editor Harvey Richards decided that showing the widespread combat this issue was theoretically centered around would be too graphic for the desired teen audience. This wouldn't be the first issue of the New 52 that DC Editorial had damaged its published product with enigmatic decision-making.

Whatever the reason, this issue ultimately feels like 5-10 pages were left on the cutting room floor. Winick did deliver big in the 26-issue Justice League: Generation Lost, where he had plenty of space to develop his story into a semi-satisfying finale (that thanks to DC's post-Flashpoint market strategy will never have its necessary follow-up). This begs the question of whether it is even possible to deliver an epic plot in the modern 20-page comic book that promotes digitally-aided pin-up art over old-fashioned plot narrative. If Batwing #12 is any indication, the answer is "no."

Comments (3) | Add a Comment | Tags: batwing judd winick newsarama.com reviews vaneta rogers


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