Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Eduardo Risso
Publisher: D.C. Comics
In his search for Angel Lupo we see Batman turns to the Penguin for information, and we see after a bit of convincing we see Batman is given a heads up about a new gang of criminals that have arrived in Gotham, and who are now looking for Angel Lupo as well as he failed to do a job for them. To this end we see the trail of clues leads Batman to Scarface's gang, where Batman learns that Scarface's controller Arnold is the one with a mad on for Angel Lupo.
You'll pardon me if I'm a bit off in this review but I just finished watching the DVD of the 1966 Batman film with Adam West and Burt Ward, before reading this issue and as such I find I've having some difficulty not envisioning how Adam West and Burgess Meredith would've interpreted the scene that Brian Azzarello offers up between Batman and the Penguin in this issue. Of course the simple fact that I've always found the Penguin exceptionally difficult to take all that seriously made this scene a bit difficult to fully accept as well, though I will concede that I was rather impressed by the sequence where the Penguin lays out how one does business in Gotham City. Of course the only other villain in Batman's rogues gallery who falls lower on my goofy concept for a villain is the one that Brian Azzarello decides to use later in the issue. Scarface is a concept that I don't think any writer would be able to do much with, though I will concede that Brian Azzarello makes a valiant attempt when he delivers the scene where the Scarface dummy is used to beat a man to death. In fact the only truly effective scene that I found in this issue was the opening sequence where we get a look inside Batman's dreams, and while there's no real deep insight in these opening pages it is interesting to note which version of the dream Batman enjoys. I'll also concede that the conversation between Batman and Ms. Farr does a pretty fair job of evoking the film noir style encounter between a hero and the femme fatale.
As for the art, I suspect a large amount of the credit for this issue's somewhat effective use of two villains that I find inherently goofy lies at the feet of Eduardo Risso, as he manages to capture the creepy vibe that Danny DeVito managed to infuse the Penguin with in "Batman Returns", with the pointy teeth and the beady black eye. The same goes for Scarface as the dummy does manages to convey the slightly unsettling notion that it might very well be alive, as its eyes seem to follow the action, even when Arnold is now long controlling it. In fact the dummy looks positively terrified when Batman carries it to the cappuccino maker. The art also does a pretty fair job of capturing the terror of the event that ended Bruce's childhood, and the smile on his face when he's been shot alongside his parents does a wonderful job of selling how disturbed Batman is.
Now looking back on my main comments I can see I've been a bit unfair as Brian Azzarello clearly feels that the Penguin and Scarface are viable villains and considering both of them are long-standing members of Batman's rogues gallery clearly past writers and the fans agree with him. In fact if I toss aside my personal feelings about the characters than the issue does work much better, as the Penguin does get a nice little exchange where he details how one does business in Gotham City, and Scarface gets a fairly chilling display of madness when he pummels a man within an inch of his life with the dummy. The reaction scene where Batman uses the cappuccino maker to put a good scare into Scarface was also a pretty effective display of Batman playing with a villain's psychosis. However, once I remove this more objective view I find that I still have trouble accepting the Penguin and Scarface as the threats that drive this story. Still the search for Angel Lupo is a pretty solid means for Brian Azzarello to take a tour of Batman's rogues.
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