By Tim Seely, Javier Fernandez, Chris Sotomayor, Carlos M Mangual
This story should’ve been called “The Fall of Raptor” or “How to waste a compelling anti-hero”…
In retrospect, Raptor as a character was probably either used too often or was too good of a character to stick around long. Like Bronze Tiger, Midnighter, Helena, etc; Raptor was a counterbalance to Dick Grayson in philosophy and methodology. Also like his previous three partners, Raptor advocated Dick making harder choices and compromising his morals to complete his missions. Saying that all together sounds repetitive, but Seely still hasn’t exhausted that premise yet.
What is fairly boring is giving readers an intriguing new character and then snatching him away as a by-the-numbers mirror villain. Raptor was born in the Circus, like Dick, and was ostracized for having leprosy and stole from the rich to get even. He also had an unrequited crush on Dick’s mom. None of this feels really special or unique to the character, despite him knowing so much about Dick Grayson’s life in previous issues. I was hoping if we ever saw the how and why behind that, it would be more original than he creeped on Dick’s mom years ago and figured out Bruce and Dick were Batman and Robin. Somehow, he’s convinced Bruce Wayne is a bastard because he’s flithy rich and not emotionally abusive to everyone when he’s dressed as Batman. Like Green Arrow #10, the art vastly outshines the story in this issue. This is Dick rescuing Bruce, albeit from a cliched bad-guy and former “hero”.
Like Ferreyra, Fernandez gets plenty of opportunities to showoff his creativity. It’s not as smooth as Ferreyra’s, instead being sketchy and making greater use of shadow. Still, he’s on par with energy and depicting motion when Dick and Raptor are fighting. I only wish what he was drawing was more nourishing mentally as well as visually.
The ending here is pretty unsatisfying as all of Raptor’s potential and development are abandoned for an easy resolution. I can’t tell if this was Seely’s plan all along or if editorial is the one to blame, but regardless, I wish Raptor wouldn’t turn into such a one note character.
I had hoped Raptor would be a distant uncle, or long-lost godfather, maybe even a former Talon; anything but a salty circus kid who didn’t get the girl. The next time Seely feels like making another edgier foil for Dick, hopefully they don’t turn out like Raptor and lay an egg when the curtain closes.
Rating: Poor, Fair, Good, Great, Excellent