Review: Batman: War Drums and Batman: War Games, Act One trade paperbacks (DC Comics)

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Monday, March 28, 2005

To begin with, I wish more trade paperbacks were more like Batman: War Drums. By that I mean, War Drums is mostly a collection of Batman issues, pretty much unrelated to one another. There's some rumblings about the upcoming War Games crossover, but mostly this feels like five or six issues of Detective Comics collected in a trade to pad out three significant issues of Robin. And I don't mind that. "Waiting for the trade" isn't about forsaking or disliking the monthly experience -- for me, it's about convenience, expedience, and economy. So if DC ever wants to collect some "non-event" issues -- you know, middle of April, Batman just hanging around in his shorts -- cool with me.

As for Batman: War Games, Act One, I think overall this trade held up. The first four chapters are a little slow -- lots of the Bat-family punching random small-time crooks, many of whom remain largely indistinguishable from one another through out the book -- but the end, where the previously spread-out characters come together for one close, creepy, claustrophobic rescue mission, read like gold. I'm interested to see the "plot" of War Games when this is all over -- a breakdown of the major events, where we can say first this happened, then this happened, just to see in the end what the story was really about. So far, so good, and we'll see what happens next.

I was also impressed with how, for the most part, the individual books kept their own identities, while still contributing to the plot as a whole. It was easy to tell which was Nightwing, Catwoman, Batgirl, and Robin, but for the most part, events of those titles didn't interrupt the story (Nightwing could have, and I thought it was brought in fairly well). Catwoman veered off for a bit, but even it came back, revealing integral information about Spoiler (and can I say, since I'm still in the Cameron Stewart Relentless phase of Catwoman, I had some trepidation about Paul Gulacy taking over the art. But those colors! And Dylan Horrocks writes a great Batgirl, very silent and sedate.) In fact, the only title that I thought really couldn't conform was Gotham Knights, with a seemingly random cameo by Hush. But I just read some previews (I can't help myself!) and it seems that Hush plays a role in War Games after all, so maybe it's OK. We'll see, we'll see.

Two days 'til Countdown to Infinite Crisis! I'm off to re-read Flash: Blitz before Flash: Ignition, and then on to some JSA.

Did you read Batman: War Games, Act One? What did you think?
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