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Batman #697 – Review

By: Tony Daniel (writer and artist), Sandu Florea (inker)

The Story: Life After Death, Part 6… The Conclusion: Batman, with a small army of helpers, descends on the chaos of Devil’s Square in Gotham after the Black Mask has released his toxin. Batman breaks through the enemy lines and makes a run on the Black Mask himself. Black Mask is not exactly defenseless…

What’s Good: There’s a lot of action in this book, many obstacles big and small, and none of them are easy. And on the art side, I still think that Tony Daniel draws a great Batman. He’s thin and muscular, and twisting and turning in the air, around gunshots and explosions and bad guys. Daniel draws Dick Grayson as if he’s making it all look easy. Batman defies gravity without looking like he’s breaking the laws of physics. He creeps out of the river or jumps through fire like he lives for this. Daniel draws good dynamics and he keeps a chaos of action from being confusing.

What’s Not So Good: While the pacing of the action, and the threats Batman faces are all good (plotting), the motivations of the villains and even the hero were puzzling. I understand that the Black Mask has two personalities warring in his head for dominance, but at one point, Dr. Fright is telling him to grow a pair and fight back. Yet when he finally puts on the Black Mask (drum roll to signal personality change…), he cuts and runs, and she’s suddenly ok with it. I didn’t get it. And Batman goes out of his way, by far, to save the life of the Black Mask. Although Batman isn’t a murderer, exactly how far should he go to preserve the Black Mask in prison so that he can break out and kill again at some later date? Didn’t make a lot of sense.

Conclusion: An emotionally, but not intellectually, satisfying conclusion to an action-packed Gotham adventure. Pick it up if you’re a real fan or if you’ve been following the arc. Otherwise, consider picking up Batman #698 as a new arc starts.

Grade: C

-DS Arsenault

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