Thursday, September 15, 2011

Batwing #1

Batwing #1 makes for a nice palate cleanser after Men of War. Sorta like a nice lemon sorbet after eating 50 dog turds. Batwing could have been written by a brain-damaged Vin Diesel and still seem okay in comparison to Men of War, but fortunately for all parties involved, it's bordering on good.

Judd Winick's a writer who has found himself surrounded by haterz, some he deserves, and some who are just bigots who found a good target. He's gotten criticism for introducing an HIV-positive superhero (Speedy 2) had a superhero take down gay bashers (the Kyle Rayner Green Lantern), and had a superhero team take on child slavery rings with the help of "America's Most Wanted" host John Walsh (the early 2000s volume of The Outsiders). He's also had a very solid run on Batman, and it's here, using a Batman spinoff character, that he succeeds in telling a semi-topical story with a superhero protagonist.

David Zambizi, a police officer from the fictional city of Tinasha (itself set in the very real Democratic Republic of the Congo), has been hand-picked by Batman to become his eyes and ears in Africa. It's a minor criticism that one dude is expected to guard the entire African continent, while Batman only has to look after one city. But given DC's track record with culturally insensitive stories (see the recent Flashpoint mini-series, where Gorilla Grodd, a supersmart gorilla, is emperor of Africa), this could've gone down a lot worse. Winck does a solid job of focusing on Batwing as a character unto himself, rather than an emissary for all of Africa. The two villains we've met this far are pretty generic, but the story itself is above average.

Pencils and inks are courtesy of Ben Oliver, who turns in competent work. His painterly style looks nice, even if it's not particularly suited in tone to this series. To his credit, Oliver is a better storyteller than most artists who utilize similar styles, getting emotion and action across each page.

Buy again: It didn't really speak to me, but there was nothing truly wrong with it. I won't be buying it again, but that's no slam against the series or its creators

New reader friendly?: New readers may wonder why Batman chose to take on a protege on the other side of the planet, but other than that, they're good to go

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