I Hate It when He Does That...
Again, I'm running behind on reviews, I should already be in bed, and I really want to be caught up before I get another pile of comics dumped in my “To Review” file manana, so I'm going to try to keep this brief even though I have to admit that I really suck at keeping things short. In that spirit of trying to be brief, I will be doing the review Bat Droppings style, but first, the intro.
Two weeks before Scott Snyder announced his next big Batman project looking at the early career of Batman, Joshua Williamson started this arc which focused on the same thing...in a sense. Whereas Snyder's run appears as if it will deal with an adult Bruce, this story is squarely focused on a very young Bruce either per-pubescent or right on the cusp of puberty. Last issue, Bruce was in Thailand learning various arts of combat with his trusted butler as his guide.
As cool as this sounds in concept, I was not impressed by the first issue of this three part arc. Most of my concerns came from the weird portrayal of Alfred and Bruce's relationship. Quite frankly, I just can't picture Alfred ever knowingly allowing Bruce to get into so much trouble. I also found the dialogue to be a bit stiff. Still, we never know what the following issues might hold. Does this story deliver a thrilling tale in an untold area of Bruce's life, or is it just a cluttered mess that adds nothing to the Legend of the Bat?
In this issue, Bruce and Alfred spring a rebel Thai girl from jail.
1. I do enjoy the art style. It's simple, but it works well for the story and gives it a classic look reminiscent, to me at least, of an old cartoon like Johnny Quest.
2. Does everybody in Thailand wear sunglasses because they conveniently do so in the opening scene in order to give Bruce a chance to blend in with the Asian populace?
3. There is an extremely odd set of dialogue that turns into inner monologue. The though conveyed through the dialogue/monologue is one continuous thought, yet at the time the dialogue begins, the knowledge conveyed in the monologues is unknown which means that the character is essentially saying what he will do in the future which could work if the character in question, Bruce, were making a plan, but he is instead describing a set of future realizations that he will make. If that was difficult to follow, please entrust that it made no more sense in the comic.
4. I do not believe that one group of fighters would ever refer to their rival as “The Freedom Fighter with the Heart of Gold” unless it was truly a sarcastic statement. If it was truly sarcastic, that essentially means that Bruce is aiding the truly bad people in this story which undercuts the entire piece. Though it is really more relevant later in the story, I suppose this is a good time to mention that Bruce never really verifies who is good and who is bad before inserting himself into foreign affairs. That makes sense for a stupid kid, but Alfred should no better.
5. It is interesting to see Bruce at this age. He is very Damian-esque at moments, but he seems like a sweeter kid with less antisocial tendencies. It's not a bad portrayal for a young Bruce.
6. Alfred goes from being very irresponsible to completely insane in letting Bruce try to a rescue attempt on this girl. What did he think would happen? Everything would go swimmingly?
Technically Spoilers Past This Point, but really, I don't think you will lose anything by reading.
7. Another awkward line as the girl runs away from a hail of gunfire with Bruce, “Best first date ever!” Really? Is that what is going through your head? I know I'm being extra cynical at the moment, but I don't think so.
8. How did the good guys get the bad guy out of the police station?
9. That bad guy would be dead if a freedom fighter's daughter had anything to say about it.
10. Bruce is revealed to have played Alfred towards the end of the story, and I have mixed feelings about that. On one hand, it is cool to see Bruce is already a calculator. On the other hand, this undermines the bond between Alfred and Bruce. Does grown up Bruce even lie to Alfred?
11. I do not think Alfred is such a sap.
12. I do not like Bruce's disappearing act to be a supernatural ability which it would have to be to act as shown.
13. The story comes back to the present at the end, and sure enough, Mekhala is the thief, but she has no real point for her actions. However, her sneaking up on Bruce was really cool.
14. The story still did not answer how Bruce disappears.
I cannot really find anything redeeming in this story. It had a few cool moments, and the art is pretty good if you like this kind of style, bur there were more annoying parts to the story than there were enjoyable parts. If you can turn your brain off and ignore little problems like I point out, then you are still left with a pretty generic Batman story.