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BATMAN #695
Author: Chris Clow
January 23, 2010

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OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS: The unthinkable happens when Batman and The Penguin join forces to thwart the mass murder and mayhem of their common foe, the Black Mask. Plus, Batman confronts an adversary from days past who has a score to settle with The Dark Knight

EDITOR'S NOTE: Chris Clow is taking over BATMAN reviewing duties. Jett (and yes, I speak in 3rd person) will be reviewing only Mrant Gorrison's BATMAN AND ROBIN for the time being. - Jett

I think Tony Daniel's forgotten who he's writing.

In BATMAN #695, He writes a scene with the new Batman interrogating someone about the whereabouts of Kitrina Falcone. When the perp says he doesn't have a clue where she is, Daniel has Batman douse the building with gas and set it afire. Now, I'm a Batman nerd, so if I didn't know any better with the hints given about what happened on these pages, I'd have thought that Dick blew someone up after he didn't get the answer that he wanted. He wouldn't have done that, right? Well, under normal circumstances, no, absolutely not. That's why I'm not sure that Tony Daniel is the best person to be writing this series with Dick Grayson in the cowl. It's my observation that the people writing Dick as Batman, other than Grant Morrison and Paul Dini, have almost written him exactly as they would be writing Bruce Wayne.

And this, in my humble opinion, is a massive oversight.

Dick Grayson was raised by Bruce Wayne, so some similarities are inherent. Dick, however, is infinitely more optimistic than Bruce is. I think Grant Morison captured this perfectly in the first arc of BATMAN AND ROBIN, where Dick held a criminal seemingly hundreds of feet above the street only to drop him two feet on top of a building. He's a little more wisecrack-ish than Batman because he was the original Robin. Robin was the first wisecracking superhero, even predating that trait in Spider-Man by over twenty years.

The best part of BATMAN #695 is the scene between Dick and Doctor Arkham, showing the tension that Arkham feels for Batman and what he represents, regrdless of who's under the mask, is a nice touch. The issue then gets progressively worse by introducing a Reaper knock-off from the Todd McFarlane/BATMAN: YEAR TWO days, which is confusing in itself since YEAR TWO was wiped from continuity in ZERO HOUR to be replaced by THE LONG HALLOWEEN a few years later.

It seems as though Daniel is interpreting the history with components from both TLH and Y2, which is a little baffling. Daniel also seems to be dialing back on The Riddler, taking away the most interesting parts that Paul Dini has given him since starting his DETECTIVE run in 2006 by throwing him back into a typical criminal role, which is a shame.

The issue ends with an awkward moment where The Penguin "traps" Batman, after putting him through a house of mirrors at a carnival that most longtime Batman fans have seen a thousand times before.

Daniel's art style changes since BATMAN, R.I.P. have been good in some spots, but I'm not a fan of the changes he's made to drawing the Bat-Suit. It doesn't seem as imposing as his traditional Batman look.

Overall, this is probably my least favorite Bat-title right now, simply because if this is Dick Grayson, this longtime Batman fan doesn't recognize him...

GRADE: D+

Chris Clow reviews comics, is a BOF Podcast "Roundtabler,"
and covers the "Con Scene" for BOF.

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