Thad wrote:Batman: The Adventures Continue continues, and I continue to have mixed feelings about it.
There's some good stuff in Season Two #1! I like the bits with Deadman, the revelation that he and Dick know each other from their circus days, and the foreshadowing that we're going to learn more about that relationship as the story moves forward.
I was surprised the Deadman/Court of Owls story was over in just two issues -- short and sweet! -- and I kind of love that the Deadman/Dick connection never went anywhere (and Nightwing could have been written out of the story entirely); it was just flavor. Flavor's good! I like a little world-building; I like establishing that characters have a vaguely-defined past and leaving the details to the reader's imagination.
So, okay. The Court of Owls never worked for me.
Problem number one is the premise. "There's a secret society that's been controlling Gotham for 150 years, and the World's Greatest Detective is just now hearing about it for the first time." That story might work if it's set early in Batman's career, but by the time he's been around long enough to be on his third or fourth Robin, y'know, it kinda starts to feel like a secret society controlling the city is something he would have noticed by now. My suspension of disbelief has its limits. Even when it comes to Batman.
Now, we don't see much of what the Court of Owls has been up to all these years in this story, so it's possible that in this version they've been dormant for a long time and Batman assumed they were a myth. It's too early to tell if that's the way they're going, but if it is, okay, that's problem number one solved.
Confirmed. In this version of the story, the Court of Owls was real, but it hasn't been active since the eighteenth century. (Shades of the historical Illuminati -- yes, they existed, but they've been gone for a very long time.) This story concerns a new player trying to revive the Court. So okay, yeah, that part works fine for me.
But problem number two lingers. And that's the premise that costumed vigilantes have been running around Gotham City dressed like nocturnal flying animals for 150 years. And I just think that's a profoundly misguided idea. It makes Batman less special and unique. It's one thing to have villains who copy his shtick; it's another to retroactively establish that actually he's been copying the villains' shtick this whole time.
That problem is indeed still present. They even hang a lampshade on it with the Talon calling Batman a copycat.
There are some other problems with the story -- the villain's plan makes no sense and I'm really not clear how he wouldn't have been better off if he'd just left Mayor Hill alive. And while reframing the Hills as a bunch of corrupt, ambitious politicos all trying to stab one another in the back is an interesting hook, I kinda liked them better when they were boring. The animated version of Hamilton wasn't actually evil or corrupt, he was a career politician who was trying to do the right thing but wasn't necessarily very good at it, and was a workaholic who'd put too much distance between himself and his son. That's fine! It's okay for Batman to occasionally have a character in it who's completely ordinary and mundane! Batman's supporting cast doesn't need to divide into "inner circle" and "villain". It's okay to occasionally have somebody in there who's just a regular guy. And this story arc took away one of those.
On the whole, though, I'd still say I thought it was pretty good. It's a good series by a good creative team (best wishes to artist Ty Templeton, who's taking a leave from the book as he battles cancer), even if it sometimes goes in directions I don't love.