Artist: Trevor McCarthy
Colorist: Guy Major
Batman has been working around the clock to track down Carmine Falcone and prevent the next all-out gang war. In the middle of all this Jim Corrigan (the human aspect of the Spectre) senses dark mystical acts coming from Arkham Asylum. Batman sends Batwing along with him to investigate.
The Ups: This series so far has included a lot of the peripheral Bat-Family members in an effort to make Gotham feel more organic. This issue is no different when Batwing is given a major role as he partners up with Jim Corrigan as he investigates the occult activities within Arkham Asylum. Their pairing is an interesting one as Luke Fox is an engineer who openly views magic as a hoax and Jim Corrigan, a.k.a. the Spectre, is the host for a divine spirit of vengeance. The interaction between rational thinking and belief becomes a major theme, shown in several key interactions throughout the issue. The dialogue between these characters is well written and organic which is key in a series that takes place in the more personal levels of Gotham. The art in this issue balances color on top of heavy shadows which makes colorful characters, like Jim Corrigan, feel appropriately out of place in Gotham.
The Downs: Everything in this issue was geared towards the set up of something larger. Aside from keeping up with plot details there’s little reason to read this issue for itself. In other words you’re not going to end up reading this issue purely to enjoy this one. You’ll be reading it to enjoy the next one.
Overall: While the concept of introducing a mystical side-conflict during Carmine Falcone’s gang-war is interesting, it does derail the current narrative and requires a lot of set-up to execute. This story line might pay off in the future but we don’t really experience any of these pay offs directly, outside of a couple reveals that hint at future events. The issue was well written and had great artwork but aside from a cliffhanger right at the end there’s really no climax to speak of. The issue trades excitement and action for a slow paced narrative which isn’t terribly exciting right now but will most likely pay off in the long run.
Grade: 3 of 5