By Tim Seely, Javier Fenandez, Chris Sotomayor, Carlos M Mangual
Nightwing, Raptor and Batgirl enter a house made of death traps to find a reclusive puzzle master.
Four issues in (counting the Rebirth one-shot) and this feels like the weakest so far. Granted, this series is one of the best DC relaunches and Seely and Fernandez still make this a fun story that moves along the larger plot. What holds it back is the emotional impact being delayed and the actual hook being relegated to background noise as Dick does his narration.
Dick and Raptor decide to steal the plans to the Parliament of Owls secret base from its designer, and Batgirl crashes the mission since Dick stood her up in Japan. The house they break into is built like a giant death trap, each room containing a puzzle that must be solved before they can enter the next one safely. There’s a bit of a double take scenario, where the Owls are trying to play Dick while he and Raptor end up playing them at the cost of Dick’s relationship with Barbara.
Fernandez’s art is its usual awesomeness. The action is smooth and vibrant, the expressions easy to read and appropriate to the scene. The house the trio is navigating actually does look like a giant puzzle itself. Seely’s script gives Fernandez the chance to play with visual representation, like a room that will crush those inside unless they solve a Tarot card puzzle or a false panel that becomes a pit trap. Sotomayor’s colors pop in this issue, as the character’s move from a winter environment and subdued cool colors to indoors and surrounded by crazy traps, along with light browns, greens and reds.
I think more attention could’ve been given to the house the characters are trying to survive, instead of being montaged through. Heck, even a flashback to this Sudoku themed villain referenced from his younger days would’ve been nice. I struggled deciding if this issue or Briggs Land #1 was worthy of being declared TWF. Although this issue was ultimately more balanced, Briggs Land had better execution for what it was going for. Again, that doesn’t mean this issue is bad but that Seely and Fernandez have set a high bar for themselves that will be hard to meet every other week.
Rating: Poor, Fair, Good, Great, Excellent