Currently Batman, Nightwing, and Catwoman as the only Batman Family members with their own solo titles. To fill in the gap of what the rest of the Batman Family members are doing DC Comics has been publishing Batman: Urban Legends as an anthology series. Currently Batman: Urban Legends is featuring separate storylines for Red Hood, Oracle, Spoiler, Orphan, Tim Drake’s Robin, and Grifter. How will all of these individual stories continue to expand on the current status quo around Gotham City? Let’s find out with Batman: Urban Legends #5.
Writers: Chip Zdarsky (Red Hood & Batman “Cheer”); Marguerite Bennett (Batgirls “Wildcard”); Meghan Fitzmartin (Tim Drake “Sum Of Our Parts”); Matthew Rosenberg (Grifter “The Long Con”)
Artists: Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira, and Diogenes Neves (Red Hood & Batman “Cheer”); Sweeney Boo (Batgirls “Wildcard”); Belen Ortega (Tim Drake “Sum Of Our Parts”); Ryan Benjamin (Grifter “The Long Con”)
Colorists: Marcus To (Red Hood & Batman “Cheer”); Marissa Louise (Batgirls “Wildcard”); Alejandro Sanchez (Tim Drake “Sum Of Our Parts”); Antonio Fabela (Grifter “The Long Con”)
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 Cheer (Silvanio Romero) and Mr. Freeze’s crew load up Batman’s frozen body in a van Red Hood breaks finally unfreezes. Red Hood tries to save Batman but Mr. Freeze creates a giant ice wall to block Red Hood’s path.
Years ago (during Bruce Wayne and Jason Todd’s era as the Dynamic Duo) Robin (Jason Todd) finds Batman captured by Riddler. Riddler gives Robin a riddle to solve if he wants to save Batman that involves picking the right keys with the clues being five different Batman villains.
In the present, several days after Mr. Freeze and Cheer captured Batman, Jason Todd decides to go with a more direct way of investigating where Batman was taken by visiting Dr. Olivia Romero without his Red Hood disguise. Jason tells Dr. Romero about his investigation and how Batman’s disappearance relates to the Cheerdrops case. Dr. Romero decides to make some tea before they discuss things.
As Dr. Romero makes tea Jason investigates her home’s bathroom. There he finds a ton of different types of medication for Silvanio Romero (Dr. Olivia Romero’s husband).
Jason goes back to the living room to talk to Dr. Romero and questions her on Silvanio. Dr. Romero admits that she and her husband (who is a chemist) have been going through a rough patch lately. Jason admits to knowing what its like to go through a rough patch in a relationship and sometimes talking to a stranger is best.
Elsewhere, Batman is being held hostage by Mr. Freeze. During this time Mr. Freeze starts talking like Nora is there with them. Batman realizes that Mr. Freeze is under the Cheerdrops influence and tries to use this to his advantage. Cheer stops him by telling Mr. Freeze to go dance with “Nora.”
Cheer then talks to Batman about his Cheerdrops help people by revealing their true desires while stripping them of their fear and regrets so they can be happy. Batman says the Cheerdrops are just a poison, mentioning one woman who used it to be in a coma, and that the Batman Family will stop him. Cheer laughs this off and says that he wants to find out what Gotham City would be if Batman was actually happy.
Flashing back to years ago, Robin (Jason Todd) is freaking out that he can’t figure out Riddler’s riddle to save Batman. As he calms down Robin realizes that the Catwoman key is the correct answer and successfully breaks Batman free. Batman happily tells Robin that he knew his protégé would be able to save him.
In the present Red Hood uses the knowledge he gained from talking with Dr. Romero to find the supplier that Silvanio works for. Red Hood questions Silvanio’s boss about the company supplying the ingredients for Cheerdrops. Silvanio’s boss shows Red Hood data of the companies they wholesale supplies to. Red Hood notices Gotham University there and figures out that Silvanio was using his wife’s credentials to buy the ingredients he needs. He then gets info on where the supplies Silvanio orders are delivered to.
Elsewhere, Cheer talks about how his wife (Dr. Olivia Romero) was actually the one who created Scarecrow’s “Fear Gas” and he has been trying to create something to show he is on her level of genius. Cheer goes on to say that he ended up using his wife’s formula and altered it to create the Cheerdrops.
Cheer goes on to say he has just developed a new version of the Cheerdrops just for Batman to use. He then places a gas mask on Batman’s face and starts pumping him with his new Cheerdrops. Cheer says that now they will see what a world without Batman is like. End of first story.
The Good: When it comes to getting the most bang for your buck Batman: Urban Legends has continuously delivered. Batman: Urban Legends #5 makes another strong case for this series being one of DC Comics best current titles. That all comes down to the fact that there is no weak link in this anthology series. Each story presents a different looks at Gotham City through the eyes of different members of the Batman Family.
Batman being captured and held prisoner by Cheer and Mr. Freeze is a great example of how we don’t always need the Dark Knight to drive a story. Jason Todd as Red Hood is easily able to take hold of this story where he sets out to rescue Batman. It is all done in a way in which Chip Zdarsky is able to further dive into what makes Jason different from Bruce and more of the humanity of the character.
Specifically spotlighting how Jason is willing to openly use his own identity to run investigations, rather than using some disguise like Bruce would normally, was a great choice. It is a different way to show how unlike other Batman Family members Jason is always Red Hood. He does not need his costume or a mask to operate as Red Hood. That help create more of a tone that we are seeing the character always in a similar voice rather than trying to alternate how he talks with Dr. Olivia Romero.
This also gets into how Jason has had one of the bigger character arcs within the Batman Family as he has matured to be more in touch with his own humanity. He knows he had to talk honestly to Dr. Olivia Romero to get her to open up to him. It’s in this way that Jason has grown most as he is letting his own experiences actually teach him to connect with others on a personal level. Which further extended to how Jason as Red Hood was able to get Silvanio Romero to give him the information he questioned him about.
All of this worked to the benefit of developing Silvanio Romero’s Cheer character as a villain as well. Zdarsky does a good job building Cheer in way that combines both Scarecrow and Joker. While his entire character outline is clearly inspired by those two Batman villains Zdarsky quickly has Cheer come into his own through the dialogue written. You do get an unease with the way he views the implementation of the Cheerdrops drug he is using to change the world. It all worked to get over his warped view on what he was doing as Cheer and place Batman in a spot where you hope Red Hood gets there in time to save his mentor.
The Batgirls story with Stephanie Brown as Spoiler and Cassandra Cain as Orphan does a solid job of establishing both characters as a duo working for Barbara Gordon. Marguerite Bennett knows how to write the natural chemistry that Stephanie and Cassandra have with one another. They compliment each other well and you fully get behind them as friends and crime fighting partners. It makes their dynamic with Barbara as their mentor make the entire Batgirls direction work even better. It really gets me hoping that we eventually get a Batgirls ongoing or mini-series starring Stephanie, Cassandra, and Barbara in the near future.
The inclusion of Ryan Wilder in the Batgirls story was a good way to slowly bring the character who is Batwoman in the CW Arrowverse show into the comic books. Having a slow build to Ryan’s character will do a lot to get her over in whatever role she may have in the Batman Family in the long run. And as with her previous appearances Ryan makes a strong case for her to get a dedicated story in Batman: Urban Legends or be part of one of the other Batman titles in the future.
Tim Drake’s story also continues to be interesting in that Meghan Fitzmartin is exploring what is really next for the character. Right now Tim is still operating as Robin but as he goes through figuring out trying to save his friend Bernard Dowd we see him question his own future. Like Dick Grayson before him, you get the sense that Tim is in a state of not knowing what he should do after being Robin for so long. Its that transition period where, while he won’t admit it to others, he knows its time to move on to be something more. It is all a question of what that all entails since Robin is who has been for a major portion of his young life.
Having that as a focal point makes how Tim decides to investigate his friend, Bernard, and other teenagers kidnapping so interesting. He is obviously desperate enough to place himself in danger in more than just the normal superhero action way. Tim’s action in this investigation does make the concern shown by Stephanie Brown and Connor Kent, who appears in his Young Justice not Suicide Squad form, be something you as the reader question if Tim is making this case to personal for himself. It sets things up for how the ending of this story involving Tim Drake could set up even bigger things for the character in the future.
The Grifter story that Matthew Rosenberg finally ends with Batman: Urban Legends #5 and it is definitely the best chapter of this storyline. While I am not a fan of Grifter I got to give Rosenberg credit for creating interest in the way the character goes about doing his thing. Adding in the return of the WILDC.A.T.S added a level of hype I was not expecting to have. Especially since I have never read the WILDC.A.T.S I was surprised how hype I found their inclusion. The presentation with just worked as Ryan Benjamin drew the entire thing to maximize the teams presence and what it means for Grifter to be a big deal.
Every artists that worked on Batman: Urban Legends #5 did a very good job with each of their respective stories. Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira, and Diogenes Neves work well together as a team. Even though I’m not a fan of artwork by committee they made it work by splitting up who handled which type of scene. This allowed the flashback and present day scenes to have a unique look so you got into the mindset of when each segment of the story was taking place while not being drastically different that their respective styles clashed.
Sweeney Boo artwork for the Batgirls story worked well to give a fun, fresh look compared to the normal grounded art style we get from a Batman comic book. There is a energy that matches the chemistry that Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain share.
Belen Ortega also worked well to enhance the story being told around Tim Drake. Ortega gets over how Tim is in a transition period in his life with being Robin. She also helps elevate story with how the actions Tim take to come across as being personal with how Tim’s posture and expressions are drawn.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: Batman: Urban Legends #5 is a blast to read. It is great to pick up a comic book that offers the opportunity for the entire Batman Family to take the center stage in their own story. This issue does a particularly highlights what makes Red Hood, Spoiler, Orphan, Tim Drake’s Robin, and Grifter such great character. Each of the stories told around these character keep you engaged as a reader and makes you want to read more adventures dedicated to each of them.
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