The long-awaited first full week of DC Comics’ New 52 has finally arrived! I’ll be reviewing all 52 #1 issues released this month, and you can find all of the reviews on the Comic Book Reviews index page. The whole point of DC’s New 52 marketing launch was to give a boost to exciting new concepts and characters, and one of the freshest and most exciting is right here in Batwing #1. I did a double-take when “The Batman of Africa” was solicited for The New 52, and I was prepared to only give the title one issue to hook me. Did Judd Winick earn my future dollars with this first issue?
This review will be as spoiler-free as possible.
A book with a no-name new hero launching amidst an ocean of bigger names and well-known titles needs to be a quality book from cover-to-cover in order to find a way to survive in The New 52. And Batwing #1 is just that.
The artwork is some of the best of the first 13 books of The New 52 and is appropriately dark and detailed, reflective of what a truly scary place Africa is. As much as Gotham feels like a living city of corruption that Batman has to combat, Batwing has an entire country he’s forced to struggle against .
Batman guest-stars and is used sparingly to great effect as he teaches David Zamvimbi to be Batwing. The fact that Batman is willing to put his faith and trust in Batwing instantly raises my opinion of and respect for David to great levels. If Batman believes that David can make a difference in a country rotting with violence and corruption, then I’m willing to believe it as well.
Massacre is apparently going to be Batwing’s archenemy, and I’m okay with that. He’s a sick and terrifying monster of an enemy, and not at all a whimsical villain like those in Gotham. By the end of the issue he’s established as being not just competent, but also intelligent and highly formidable. In a relaunch filled with lame, throwaway new villains (See: Green Arrow #1), Massacre is the first true gem of the bunch.
When not in costume, David still works to improve the society he lives in by trying to enact change from the inside of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s corrupt police force. In what seems like a certain losing battle, David seeks out any vestige of hope to build onto in order to improve his home.
The issue ends with a crazy cliffhanger that absolutely got my attention. I was coming back anyway, but if I had been undecided that totally would have pushed me over the edge, because I really need to know what happens to our hero now.
I would’ve liked to have gotten a little bit more on who David Zamvimbi is outside of his job and his superheroic identity. What’s his background? What does he like to do? What’s his personality? I’m certain that all of these things are going to be expanded upon in time, but I would’ve just liked to get an introduction to David’s everyday personality here so that I could relate to him.
Overall: To say I was highly skeptical about this book being quality and a success when it was announced would be an understatement. But in just one issue, Judd Winick has shown that this book can cover all-new ground for the Bat-franchise and is certainly deserving of its spot in The New 52. Titles like Justice League #1 and Action Comics #1 were always going to be successful, but Batwing #1 is definitely the surprise hit of Week 1 of The New 52. Fans looking for something fresh, new, and different from the DC Universe–here it is.