This issue of The Last Batman Mystery deepens as questions from The Riddler fill the airwaves and the citizens of Gotham continue to commit crimes for no apparent reason. With a few more crimes and more unanswered questions, will Batman figure this one out or will he flounder?
The story opens with Bruce and Judge Donoven having dinner together. Bruce uses the date to get a bit of information out of her, pressing for details about the attack on the courthouse. As in the last issue, I really appreciate Tamaki using Bruce himself to investigate. Here though, it feels like he’s not really making much progress. Instead, they talk more about their motivations for trying to be a force for good in Gotham.
I like this conversation, but it leads directly to an issue I have with this particular story, which is that it feels like Tamaki has a goal in mind for the arc, but that goal isn’t not really highlighted in a way that makes it seem important. We’re told the Riddler question several times, says that Bruce still has a heart for the city despite his darkness, says that innocent people are in danger and need Batman, but the narrative struggles to connect these themes to the events in course on. It doesn’t have to seem obvious, but they’re often said to be totally abandoned until a much later point in the story, which throws the legs off those themes.
The mystery itself also struggles with this void. While Bruce goes out of his way to question the Judge and is seen investigating, most of the clues and answers are given to him by outside sources, especially Deb Donoven, Oracle, and Talia. Deb’s role in all of this makes sense, she’s a journalist herself and might interview people in a different way than Bruce or Batman, and I like that connection. It’s Oracle and Talia giving him answers and clues that I wasn’t the biggest fan of.
It feels like the story relies on these supporting characters to tell Bruce – and the readers – these major puzzle pieces and clues, instead of showing Bruce doing this research. He’s doing research and his own investigation, so it would make sense for him to put the pieces together. I can only guess it’s done in order to get him to converse with someone. But it’s been times when Batman admits to not seeing a connection read less like he’s having a conversation and more like he can’t figure things out and needs to be told. Especially when you watch Talia telling her to watch out for Riddler.
Speaking of Riddler, I’m disappointed he’s not featured more in the overall story. He’s less of a menace, and more of a boogeyman, addressing the citizens of Gotham and, in this issue, leaving threatening blackmail letters. There’s so much potential for Riddler that’s on the air influencer to do more than just mess with Batman, even live. To be integrated into this real force, and we just don’t see it.
Art too is something I keep coming and going. There are shots created by Reis that are stunning. The moment when Batman bumps into Talia is really lovely, it’s atmospheric and highlights a gorgeous classic crouching Batman figure.
But then there are moments that don’t feel as cared for, like Bruce suddenly running off to a park after his date. It feels a bit disjointed here, and when the book has lots of truly lovely artful moments juxtaposed with some that feel less focused, it further hinders the overall enjoyment.
Another story element that seems inconsistent is the transitions. The narrative is littered with awkward changes, from Bruce leaving his date to walk through a park for no reason, to the story going from him talking with Deb to suddenly being in line with Oracle in the garage. They are either discordant or don’t quite make sense in context, and this further serves to cloud the issue.
With another issue of this arc to do, I’m really hoping for a satisfying conclusion. Something to bring all of these disparate elements together to tell a complete story and wrap it up.
Save Gotham Girl
The backup continues Claire’s story started last month. Along with trying to face the world and figure out the mystery behind the Gotham Girl blog, she must now find out who killed her friend, Andre, and why.
Something I really like about this save is that it allowed me to invest in Claire herself. I feel for her and her plight, and there are times when I can relate to her as well as she struggles to keep going despite setback after setback. His story is sad, interesting and sometimes funny, and feels very real. That’s kind of all I want from the main title too, just enough focus on who the characters are and their fate to invest myself.
I’ll echo last month’s suggestion that if you want to learn more about Gotham Girl, this is a great backup.
- The Citizen crime mystery keeps you interested
- You wanted some more Talia this week
- Gotham Girl’s story is a great read
While this issue builds on the mystery started in the last one, it generally seems to be lacking. I want more character investment, more Riddler, and more Batman and Bruce getting answers. Instead, much of it is told, and the story almost seems to fly. Hopefully things will end more satisfactorily next month.
Overall score: 4/10
WARNING: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purposes of this review.