Batman #639 Review

Reviewer: Tim Sheridan
Story Title: Family Reunion – Part 1: The Word on the Street

Written by: Judd Winick
Penciled by: Doug Mahnke
Inked by: Tom Nguyen
Colored by: Alex Sinclair
Lettered by: Ken Lopez
Associate Editor: Michael Wright
Editor: Bob Schreck
Publisher: DC Comics

This is a great issue of an already great series. By far the best book of this current team’s run. The last story was a lot of fun, and it brought back a sense of excitment and surprise in the Batman universe, but it was all set up, really. The whole thing rested on the question of who the Red Hood is. And now that we know who it is (Jason Todd, for those who have been living under a rock), we can get on with the real story.

What does this issue entail? Well, a whole lot. You really get your 22 pages worth. Red Hood is creating quite a lot of trouble with Gotham’s gangs, and the Black Mask is not happy about that. By the way, let me just say that despite not being interested in Black Mask during the whole of “War Games”, the story which brought him who where he is now, I think he’s a great character and is a joy to read now, espeically as written by Winick.

The story that really has my attention here though is of course with Batman. Batman is intent on finding out just how his former partner is alive and well. So he goes around asking people. People like Zatanna, Jason Blood, and Green Arrow. And he’s not very nice to any of them. But let’s face it folks, we didn’t really expect him to be nice.

The scene with Zatanna, at a former lazarus pit is quite chilling actually. For the first time in a while, I got the feeling that Batman is over his head, and really has no idea what is going on. It creates a real sense of discomfort for the reader. Batman is the guy who is supposed to know what is going on at all times, and you can’t catch him off guard. Well here he is.

And then the Green Arrow scene is also quite compelling. I like how Arrow can just talk so matter-of-factly about his own death and return. This little conversation also (much like in Outsiders) seems to be a little prelude to a larger context of stories for the DCU, and that’s really exciting.

Kudos also to the art team of Mahnke and Nguyen. Every month so far, they’ve delivered a great looking book, full of style and clear storytelling. The balance between the two is perfect.
So yes, I really enjoyed this book. There was nothing about it I found lacking. I didn’t even mention the cliffhanger, which has a better use of Onyx than ever before.

Do what everyone else is saying and pick up this book.