Dragonflies Wading Through the Muck
The Good: The cover is the absolute best of the series thus far. It's a brilliant and unique concept with nothing short of perfect execution. It's subtle as hell, a genius representation of the content, and a great way to represent the dark and hauntingly realistically gritty African setting.
It was very interesting to see just how deep David's good nature was rooted in the core of his soul. He's an amazing choice for a defender of Africa as he acts with the will of the people, the spirit of the continent. He won't kill the main who destroyed his life, but he's not above leaving him to die at the hands of those he sought to murder. It's not something Batman would do, but it's something that makes sense for a 'Batman' to do, if he lives the environment that raised him.
The Bad: Oh dear god. Chrisscross is by no means a 'terrible' artist, but he's DEFINITELY not my taste. And I still don't think I would qualify him as a 'great' artist by any means, personal taste or no. He actually does a generally better job than most of his other work, but he's still NOTHING compared to Ben Oliver. He can't capture the same cinematic experience, or the perfect use of shadows, or the astoundingly complex simplicity. Ben Oliver makes Chriscross look like Rob Liefeld.
Most of David's backstory rehased some things we already knew, so we spent a bit of the issue retracing the steps from last issue, getting a little more detail of his childhood, but nothing about his rise to being Batwing.
This issue loses some of the great subtlety of previous issues; rushing through a Massacre encounter and dedicating the entire reast to backstory. It doesn't feel very well chosen, so it breaks up the great tense pacing of the previous issues.
David's backstory contains a stupidly obvious cliche of a hook for either Massacre's identity, or a future villain's identity. When the reveal happens, plenty of readers will have seen it coming miles and miles away.
In Conclusion: 3/5
The lack of Ben Oliver's art put a huge damper on this issue from the outset, and the mediocre handling of David's backstory did the rest of the work. Good content withing the backstory itself saves this issue from being a pile of crao, but balances it out to general mediocrity. A disappoing entry in an otherwise excellent series. Let's hope Ben Oliver returns with Winick's good storytelling skills next issue.