After a solid start to Batman: The Adventures Continue the second arc of this series fell flat with the introduction of Deathstroke. The whole storyline just did not connect in the way that Alan Burnett and Paul Dini likely intended. This was disappointing as this was Deathstroke’s introduction into the DC Animated Universe. But sometimes that is just how things go and we just have to move on. Based on the cover for this next arc it looks as though Burnett and Dini are going to do exactly that by bringing in Catwoman and Azrael into Gotham City. What do their appearances mean for the Dark Knight? Let’s find out with Batman: The Adventure Continues Chapter 7.
Writers: Alan Burnett and Paul Dini
Artist: Ty Templeton
Colorist: Monica Kubina
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: While chasing after Catwoman, after her latest heist, Batman wonders if Robin is right that he does take his time in chasing Catwoman. Catwoman throws the bag with the crown she stole up in the air. Batman uses his grapple line to catch the crown. This gives Catwoman the chance to get enough distance between them and escape.
Suddenly Catwoman is tied up and taken by Azrael. Batman immediately goes after Azrael. Seeing this Azrael uses his fire sword to destroy the water tower that Batman attached his grapple line to. Batman is able to recover and begins to look for where Azrael took Catwoman.
In an alley, Azrael tells Catwoman to hand over the shawl she stole. Catwoman thinks Azrael is kidding about wanting the shawl but Azrael says he never kids.
Batman appears and immediately disarms Azrael with a Batarang. Batman and Azrael then begin fighting.
As they fight the Batman Family stalker is watching from a nearby rooftop, thinking how Azrael is quicker than Deathstroke.
Being evenly matched in fighting ability Batman uses smoke pellets to blur Azrael’s vision. Knowing what Batman is doing, Azrael grabs his sword and leaves while promising they’ll meet again.
Batman then asks Catwoman about the shawl Azrael was after. Catwoman reveals she recently stole the Shawl of Madelyn from a monastery for a client. Batman remembers that the Shawl of Madelyn is a sacred item for priests as it has special healing properties.
Batman demands to know who the client was that hired Catwoman. Catwoman does not want to reveal it but Batman reminds her that she will need his protection with Azrael after her.
Sometime later, the GCPD arrest Catwoman. Batman then gets a call from Alfred, who has a sword pointed at his neck by Azrael, to let him know they have a visitor.
In the Batcave, Batman is surprised to see that Jean-Paul Valley is the costumed Azrael. Jean-Paul mentions he knew Bruce was Batman after there fight earlier. Jean-Paul says he is going by Azrael nowadays thanks to the clerics giving him that name. Bruce reflects on how he didn’t stick around long enough at the monastery they trained at to get a name by the clerics. Jean-Paul reminds Bruce was more at the monastery for to learn certain disciplines and was never big on the church part.
Jean-Paul then tells Bruce about how he is after the Shawl of Madelyn and is looking to punish Catwoman for stealing it. Bruce states that Catwoman was just hired by someone to steal it for them. Jean-Paul asks who that person is. Bruce says he will tell him but Jean-Paul has to promise not to do anything to Catwoman. Jean-Paul promises and Bruce says then he’ll help, including giving Jean-Paul armor that will make him look more like a Batman Family member.
Over at the Iceberg Lounge Batman and Azrael (in his new Batman: Knightfall costume) confront Penguin about the Shawl of Madelyn. Penguin states he took the shawl and gave it to the real client as he was just a middleman for the job. This pisses Azrael off and demands Penguin tell them who this client is. Rather than give them a name Penguin introduces Batman and Azrael to his new bodyguard named Wingman, a giant bird that towers over everyone. End of issue.
The Good: Now this is much more like it. Batman: The Adventures Continue #7 is more like the stories that this series should be about. Just about everything in this issue worked to tap into what made the Batman animated series a great watch. Throughout this issue, it felt like you were reading and watching an episode from the show.
What helped is that there was never a down moment. Everything about Batman: The Adventures Continue #7 was about moving forward. Each character moment led to the next development of the story. In the process, Alan Burnett and Paul Dini were able to find the right voices to fit with Batman, Catwoman, Azrael, and Penguin that makes this feel like an episode from the animated series.
Kicking things off with Batman chasing after Catwoman was a good way to establish how this issue was going to be constantly moving forward. It was particularly fun to see how different Batman is when it comes to Catwoman. In the two animated series, Catwoman made several appearances but wasn’t as prominent as she is now in the comics.
Even with only a handful of appearances, I like that Burnett and Dini established the fact Catwoman is different from Batman’s other villains. Batman calling out the fact that he himself treats Catwoman differently, as Robin has mentioned, was a good bit of self-awareness. It shows the attraction we now see prominently featured in the Batman comics exists in the DCAU continuity as well. Even in doing his intimidation tactics we see how Batman does care about Catwoman on a personal level as he does offer protection from Azrael.
Burnett and Dini also worked Azrael seamlessly into the DC Animated Universe. Unlike Deathstroke, Azrael came across as someone that has been part of the DCAU for a long time, even if this was his first appearance. Establishing the fact that Jean-Paul Valley was part of the monastery that Bruce did some of his training to become Batman with was a good choice. This works into how we saw in the different DCAU cartoons Batman was a part of that he has a long history of training under other classic DC characters, like Zatara. The dialogue between Bruce and Jean-Paul works right into that part of Batman’s character as there is a natural chemistry between the two that speaks to them having a history with each other.
Establishing that chemistry between Bruce and Jean-Paul made the story around the search for the Shawl of Madelyn work much better. Burnett and Dini gave a sense of importance to the Shaw of Madelyn with how Bruce and Jean-Paul talked about the item. It made Jean-Paul’s urgency to reclaim the item for the monastery something that becomes clear. Bruce offered to help, while also getting Catwoman out of having to look over her shoulder for Azrael, was well done. Adding in how Bruce gave Azrael new Batman-style Knightfall armor was a nice touch to bring in the better-known look for the character.
Burnett and Dini also did a good job quickly getting over Penguin as a cocky antagonist. Both the dialogue and Ty Templeton’s way of drawing Penguin just made you look forward to Batman or Azrael punching him in the face. The character just acts like such an asshole that deserves to get punched. Bringing in the big bird monster in Wingman was a good hook to end Batman: The Adventures Continue #7 while leaving the true antagonist of this story up in the air for the next chapter to reveal.
Templeton’s artwork was once again solid as ever. Templeton has really gotten into the grove of drawing this style of the DC Animated Universe. With this issue constantly in motion, Templeton was able to tap into the fun energy of this design. We see that with the chase between Batman and Catwoman that kicked off this issue and the brief fight between Batman and Azrael. His look for Azrael’s Knightfall armor also tapped into how that is just a design you think of as cool.
The Bad: Possibly even more so than in previous issues Jason Todd’s appearance in Batman: The Adventures Continue #7 was unnecessary. Jason is just in a few panels and added absolutely nothing to the story or any character. His appearance in this issue simply read as Burnett and Dini feeling obligated to include at least some appearance time for the character. That panel space would’ve been better served to have Tim Drake or Barbara Gordon involved in Batman’s adventure instead.
Overall: Batman: The Adventures Continue #7 may very well be the best chapter of this series thus far. This issue read like an episode from The New Batman Adventures that this series timeline is placed in the middle of. The chemistry between Batman, Catwoman, Azrael, and Penguin was on point throughout this issue. Hopefully, the rest of this arc can keep up the strong momentum established by Batman: The Adventures Continue #7.
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