Judd Winick and Ed Benes on Batman! That’s a recipe for a bad book if ever I saw one. But the end result wasn’t bad at all. In fact, I could even recommend this book with a few disclaimers.
First of all, the timing on this book is just weird. At the end of Battle for the Cowl, we saw Dick Grayson take up the mantle of Batman. Then in Batman and Robin #1, we saw Dick and Damian operating as the new dynamic duo. They seemed to have been at it for a little while. But in this issue, we see Dick dressed as Nightwing – reluctant to put on Bruce’s costume.
Presumably, this story happens at some point prior to the final pages of Battle for the Cowl. But the time frame is never fully established. I’ve read interviews with Winick in which he explained that he had written a large amount of Battle for the Cowl but was told by DC to shoehorn it into the on-going series. That’s what this issue feels like; Judd’s version of Battle.
Once you get past some of the inconsistencies with other titles, there’s a lot to like in this issue. I enjoyed Winick’s take on Dick’s decision to take up the mantle of the Bat more than anything that occurred in the Battle for the Cowl mini-series.
Although some of the internal monologue felt over-written at times, I liked the way Winick portrayed Dick and Alfred’s sense of loss. The scene in which Superman and Wonder Woman visit the cave to return Bruce’s costume was especially poignant.
We give Ed Benes a lot of grief on this site for his objectification of women. And of course, Wonder Woman is drawn in the typical Benes style. But with very few women in the cast, Benes artwork wasn’t distracting the way it can be in a book like Justice League. Keeping him on a book with a largely male cast may be the answer.
As for Winick, I’ve been looking for a book to restore my faith in him. He’s done some good work in the past (Power of Shazam) but the last year or so on Green Arrow and Titans has just been awful. This book represents a return to form for Winick. It’s not great. It certainly pales in comparisson with Morisson’s B&R. But it’s good enough.
If you were expecting a train wreck from Winick’s return to Batman, you won’t get one. If your expectations are sufficiently low, you may even be pleasantly surprised.