batwatch's Batwing #19 - The End of the Beginning review

BatWatch Review: Batwing #19

A Season of Change

Two weeks ago on the day comics came out, I woke up, and the first thing I did was buy and download Batwing and skip to the end to find out who would next be wearing the mantle. I almost never do this sort of thing, but this question had been nagging at me for over a month, and I did not want to be tortured all day at work wondering who it was, so I peeked. Despite the fact that it was the first issue I looked at that day, I have not reviewed it until now. I go in order of popularity in my reviews starting with the most popular titles and working my way down, so Tec' got most of my attention that night. I also prioritize the new articles of BatWatch over the old overdue articles, and for the past two weeks, I've been swept from project to project both in and out of BatWatch, and though I did finally manage to actually read the issue, I'm just now getting words on paper. Even now, I am going to be criminally unjust to the book by being very brief, but I have got to get caught up on past reviews, so I'm cutting corners.

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This issue promises to do two monumental things. It is going to end the story of David Zavimbe, and it is going to introduce a new Batwing. To deliver this tale, we have the new writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray.

Is this a fitting end to a noble hero of Batman, Incorporated or is this a tragic betrayal for a loyal soldier in DC's army?

An End for David Zavimbe

In short, I think this was a pretty good conclusion for David in terms of plot points. The presentation of this final chapter of his story left a little to be desired, but we will get to that later.

I'm glad David's tenure ended in a conversation with Bruce because this is also how his career as Batwing began, and that gave the story a sort of bookend feeling that went a long ways in selling the concept that David's story is done. Though I enjoyed the apparent promise to kill those who deserved it at the end of Batwing #18, I'm glad David ended up resigning from his position rather than being fired because he chose to kill. It feels like David was ready to move on, and though I know he is a fictional character with no will of his own, I kind of feel like his willingness to move on gives me permission to move on as well and enjoy a new character in the role.

There is something poignant in the reason Batwing left too. I love when he says, and this is a paraphrase, “The symbol doesn't work here. It's not the same...I have to do figure out how to do this on my own.” There is a real case to be made that David is not quitting. He's evolving as his own hero, and though he may never play an important role in the Bat verse again, I know in my mind, he will still be a guy who is trying to do good with his life even if he is not wearing a costume.

I also liked that Palmiotti and Gray avoided making the ending to neat for David. We get resolutions to the different plot lines which are only about three-quarters satisfying. Dawn appears as if she may reform, but we do not know exactly what choice she will make. David takes out Sky-Pirate's ship, but we do not see the fate of Sky-Pirate, and that leaves things a little unsettled. Batwing kisses Kia, but they aren't exactly walking off into the sunset together. Everything is partially resolved, and that feels right for some reason.

The one issue I do wish they would have resolved a little more firmly is the matter of Ancil Marksbury. Granted, he had a complete end to his story, but I really felt there needed to be a bigger fight scene somewhere in this book just to satisfy that action itch we comic fans have, and Ancil is the guy I wanted to see thrashed. (Sky-Pirate might seem like the better choice, but I suspect he and David might have a reckoning at a later date.

Bat Droppings

1. Though I liked the basic events that happened to Batwing, the dialogue was very clunky at times. It often involved way too much exposition as if Palmiotti and Gray thought that since they were new to the series, they had to explain everything that had happened in the last eighteen issues for the benefit of others. At some points, it felt like David was about to say, “I am angry at you Dawn, the mercenary antihero that was once my childhood friend who recently broke out a bad guy from prison and appears to be morally neutral.” Spelling out the plot might have been an intentional move so that any new readers that jumped on the series would not become confused, but in that respect, I think they should have just let Fabian Nicieza finish this arc. It would have worked just as well, and it would have had the same tone in terms of dialogue.

2. Batwing's head butt of Dawn looked really brutal. I rather enjoyed it.

3. You've got to love seeing a sociopath in pain, but once again, how many gadgets does David have in that costume? I guess we can add jumper cables to the inventory.

4. I guess we are just overlooking the fact that David probably would have killed dozens of people by blowing of Sky-Pirate's ship. I don't really have a problem with killing murderers myself, but I think Bruce would have had words. I'm assuming we are supposed to believe only the ship was destroyed and the crew survived, but that is so improbable.

Spoilers Until Conclusion

5. Matu's death was moving, but not nearly as much as I would have liked. After reading the scene over and over again, I don't think there is anything wrong with it. Instead, I think the lack of emotional resonance for me is that I never really felt I knew the character that well. He seemed like a nice enough guy, but most of his conversations with David seemed to reveal little about him as a person. It simply made it difficult to care deeply about him.

6. Batman's interaction with Alfred in the cave was a bit comical. He loses one Batwing and immediately feels he must replace him? What's up with that? It's almost like, “Gee, we have this brand new costume. I guess I need a new partner.” The fact that the new guy is also black is kind of funny as well. Is this the official black guy costume? As soon as one black guy leaves the organization, Batman immediately has to replace him with another black guy wearing the exact same costume with the same codename? Is the Justice League giving Batman some sort of quota for ethnicity? I have no point on this. I just thought it was funny. It kind of exposes that this is a comic book because an extra costume should not in any way prompt Bruce to find a new recruit.

7. Luke Fox seems like a promising character. I like the idea of a more upbeat member of the Bat Family which is what the writers have promised. He seems like he has the skills on the physical and technical end, and he will indeed fit the bill for getting Batwing more attached to the rest of the Family. I'm not sure I like the idea, however, of Luke being at odds with his father because it is a formula we have seen so many times previously. Can't any heroes have a good relationship with their living parents?

Conclusion 8/10

It was a pretty good end for David Zavimbe. There was some stiff dialogue, and it felt just a smidge rushed, but I liked how it resolved most of the conflicts while leaving enough doors open to keep some mystery about his future. As for the new Batwing, I very much look forward to seeing how he is developed.

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