"The Battle Within: Part Three, A Fighter by his Trade"
Writer: Gail Simone
Artists: Joe Bennett (p), Jack Jadson (i)
Publisher: DC Comics
Plot: Dinah and Wildcat find their combative stance has earned them the respect of the drug warlord that they've come to do business with, so the two are given the complete control over the Singapore drug pipeline. Meanwhile back in Gotham City, the Huntress finds her one-woman war on Gotham's crime families takes an unexpected turn when she meets the hired gun that has been brought in to deal with the problems that she's been creating.
Comments: This issue is a bit like the payoff to the overused drowning gag where a character who can't swim flails about in a panic until it's pointed out that the water isn't deep enough to drown in. I was genuinely impressed by the previous issue's efforts as Gail Simone brilliantly painted our heroes into situations where I was genuinely concerned about their ability to survive their respective encounters. Since I'm a rather jaded comic reader who has seen the "tune in next issue to see if our brave hero is able to survive their certain death" trick played literally thousands of times, I'm always eager to praise a writer who is able to get past my well established defences. However, instead of actually following through on the sense of impending doom that she managed to build up this issue, Gail Simone pretty much squanders it as this issue can't prove quickly enough that Wildcat and the Black Canary are no longer in any danger as the big, bad villains come across as almost too desperate to prove that they want to work with our heroes. In fact, the transition was so quick that I initially suspected the sudden co-operation was a trick designed to lull our heroes into a false sense of security, but this idea was quickly quashed when the drug kingpin cuts his ties with the criminal organization that the Huntress is currently dismantling. Still the final third of the issue somewhat quells my disappointment, as our characters make a rather quick exit from Singapore, and the mobile nature of Barbara's new base of operations is put to the test. The final page also offers up a fun surprise, as I haven't been following this character lately and as such, I was unaware that he had gone undercover. I'll also give Gail Simone credit for the smooth way that she works the intrusive elements of the crossover into the story so that they feel like natural developments, and the depressed Blue Beetle fan in me appreciated this issue.
Joe Bennett does have his moments when the characters come across more like visual props than real characters, but I'm delighted that he looks to be this book's new monthly artist. He does an amazing job when it comes to the action, as the aerial dogfight that closes out this issue is deftly presented. The art also has fun with the visual misdirection in the opening pages as a Gotham criminal comes to believe he's being stalked by Batman. The art also nicely presents the facial expressions of the characters, from Zinda's panicked expression as she calls Dinah about Barbara, to Ted's almost comical expression as he notices the two pounds of cocaine under the driver seat as they near the checkpoint. The surprise factor of the final page is also nicely done, and I actually recognized the character before he was identified, which is quite surprising when one considers the overall generic appearance of the character.
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