Friday, May 16, 2014

SHADOW OF THE BAT #33 - December 1994

Prodigal: Six
Credits:  Alan Grant (writer), Bret Blevins (artist), Todd Klein (letterer), Adrienne Roy (colorist)

Summary:  Tensions rise between Commissioner Gordon and his wife after she suggests he turn to the new Batman for help against Two-Face.  Meanwhile, a representative of a Russian consortium named Troika attempts to extort Lucius Fox.  After Fox throws him out, he has several Waynecorp security guards killed.  At Blackgate, prison overcrowding causes a riot.  Because Robin feels inexperienced using the thermal Batgliders, Batman is forced to handle the riot alone.  He restores order after defeating the instigator, Tatum.  Inside the basement of the Hall of Records, Two-Face keeps Harvey Kent hostage.

Irrelevant Continuity:  If you’re wondering who that middle-aged man on the cover is, I couldn’t tell you.  I can only guess he’s supposed to be Harvey Kent, even though he looks quite different inside the issue.

Miscellaneous Note:  I’m not sure if I’m the only one who didn’t know this, but a “troika” is defined as “a carriage of Russian origin drawn by three horses harnessed abreast of each other.”

Review:  It’s another “Prodigal” chapter that’s slowly building up to Dick Grayson-as-Batman’s confrontation with Two-Face, while giving the reader precious little to digest in the meantime.  There are little bits that I like, such as Robin opting out of using the flying Batglider because he doesn’t feel properly trained, and Batman actually being supportive and telling him it’s okay.  That kind of scene is necessary to distinguish Dick as a more compassionate Batman, in addition to reminding the reader that Dick has more of a brotherly relationship with Tim than a paternal one.  We haven’t had enough of these moments yet, really.  The start of the Troika subplot is also a welcome change of pace from the pattern of C-lister/Two-Face subplot/C-lister we’ve been getting lately.  The main story just feels like filler, however, and surprisingly not even much of a challenge for Batman.  (He singlehandedly takes on a prison riot in about six pages!)  That subplot with the Gordons also feels awkward, as Sarah is now suddenly okay with Batman and angry with Gordon for not accepting him, which flies in the face in all of the stories reprinted so far.  Of course, it's entirely possible there's a story featuring Sarah Gordon's change of heart and the trades skipped it.  I don't really think that's true, but the trades have had more stunning omissions.

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