Written by JUDD WINICK/ Art by BEN OLIVER
Colors by BRIAN REBER / Letters by CARLOS M. MANGUAL
Batwing was definitely a surprising addition to the New 52 roster but it has generally been embraced. As one of the more popular characters to be spawned out of Grant Morrison’s Batman Inc. title, it was exciting to see a brand new character given the chance to flourish on his own.
Judd Winick has a lot of ground to cover in this first issue because Batwing simply doesn’t have the history to lean on that so many other characters in the DCU have. but he is able to use that as a compelling part of the narrative. We don’t know anything about Batwing for the most part so creating the world of his story is completely up to Winick and he takes to it right away. Batwing opens with a fight scene and it’s immiediately evident that his fighting style is totally his own. Winick quickly establishes part of Batwing’s rogues gallery by introducing Blood Tiger and the murderous Massacre. Of course, Batman does show up but he defers to Batwing when figuring out how to solve this mystery.
When we meet Batwing’s alter ego David Zavimbe, we start to understand how and why Batwing operates the way he does. A police officer, Zavimbe is fighting on criminals outside the station and corruption within it. Zavimbe uses his resources differently than Bruce or Dick do. He doesn’t need to show up to the police station as Batwing because he can affect the investigation from the inside.
Another important part of creating Batwing’s world is the art. Ben Oliver and colorist Brian Reber deliver beautifully rendered figures that are dynamic while still maintaining their realism, they fall flat on their faces as far as creating the world around Batwing and David Zavimbe. Simply put, there are practically no backgrounds. Any sequence with Batwing seems to take place on just a plane of color. It gets better when Zavimbe is present but the police station that his scenes take place in is practically bare. This is a missed opportunity. Greater attention to the details surrounding Batwing and Zavimbe could have brought greater tension to the script and really enhanced the short history of this character but instead the art takes a back seat to the writing and lets Winick’s script do all the heavy lifting in terms of world building.
For the first time out, this comic has me asking a lot of unexpected questions. The biggest one being, “When does the next issue come out?” Winick is on top of his game and while the art is providing no help when it comes to creating history, it is at least delivering on fantastic looking characters that do are quite iconic. Time will tell what happens with this book but as far as I’m concerned this Bat’s got wings.
WRITING: 3 / ART: 3 / OVERALL: 3