A Blind Eye Sees Red
Batwing started strong, but it has been struggling ever since. The last two issues from writer Judd Winick felt like he was just going through the motions. Luckily, help arrived in the last issue in the form of new writer Fabian Nicieza. I loved Nicieza's work with Robin and Red Robin, so I have some high hopes for his work with Batwing, but the reality of Nicieza's more recent run on Legion Lost also bears some consideration since that series has done very poorly throughout the DCNU. Is Fabian able to take Batwing and send him soaring to new heights, or does this bat take a nosedive and plow face first into the dry African soil?
In this issue, David Zavimbe is unable to stop the young killer, Ancil Marksbury, in his role as a police officer because the police department has largely been bought off by Ancil's rich father. Despite the objections of Matu, Batwing decides it is time to target the Marksbury family and the corruption in the police force.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo
As David went door to door investigating the murder as a police officer, I noticed that almost all the characters in the neighborhood were white, and that struck me as odd since most of the characters in this series and the people in Africa are black. It implied that there is some large racial divide in the country, and that thought made me curious about the setting of the Batwing series. I knew it was somewhere in Africa, but I could not remember anything else in particular.
Doing some quick research, I found that the city David calls home, Tinasha, does not exist, but it is a fictional city set in the very real location of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The DRC is an interesting place. It is the rape capital of the world. Parts of the country are still fighting what is known as the African World War despite the fact that the war ended many years ago. 5.4 million have died from the effects of the conflict since 1998. I did not find any information on the racial breakdown of the nation except to see that there are many different ethnic groups, but I did see plenty of evidence to demonstrate that the Democratic Republic of the Congo is a very messed up place.
Even before I had done any research, I already wished that Batwing would focus more on the real problems of Africa. Now, it feels like more than a lost opportunity; it feels like a requirement to really understand the failings and lack of civilization present in this series. We get hints of it here and there, but I think a history lesson, attached to ongoing events in the story, would actually be very helpful to the impact of this series.
This issue was definitely a step up from Winick. This issue focuses squarely on the police corruption which was only looked at sparingly in previous issues. David, for better or worse, forces the conflict between himself and the corrupt police officers to come to a head, and many are caught in the crossfire. The events of this issue set David up for some very precarious situations while out of his costume, and it appears that he will be taking some heat as Batwing as well.
The supporting cast, both in terms of allies and enemies, grows immensely in this one issue though it is unclear how many of them will stick around long term.
The actions scenes, brief as they are, work quite well. It is much, much better than the Father Lost story wherein David simply gets mind controlled three times and finally finds a way to stop it the third time round.
The art is very good with some especially nice uses of reflections. Also, Batwing uses a hologram at one point which was rendered with a cool effect. The only problem I saw with the art was that Batwing fired missiles at one point, yet these missiles are drawn in such a way as to appear as if they do not come from him. They look like the originated from some other angle.
There was at least one mistake in the dialogue. Batwing thinks, “They this club,” which I believe was meant to read, “They own this club.” There were a few other phrases that felt a little off, but perhaps they were written correctly.
This is a great issue; it is by far the best since zero month. If this is the quality of work we can expect from Nicieza, then Batwing might just have a bright future. However, there are a few little problems, and the series would benefit from a better understanding of its unique setting.