Saturday, August 6, 2011

Back Issue Box: Batman Chronicles #20

A couple of weeks ago, I reviewed a crossover between the Earth Angel Supergirl and Resurrection Man. The impetus behind those posts was the re-introduction of Resurrection Man into the DCnU.

The next DCnU character I thought I would revisit is Nightwing. I enjoyed Dick Grayson's turn to wear the cowl more than I thought I would. He was a different sort of Batman than Bruce was but it was clear he could handle the pressure of being Batman. In particular, I loved his interaction with Damien as Robin, the classic roles of dour Batman and happy-go-lucky Robin flipped on its head.

Now it seems that the 'Batman Inc.' idea will continue forward in the DCnU so why Dick will go back to the Nightwing outfit will be an interesting part of his story. I'm not planning on getting Nightwing so I'll have to follow along distally or be lured into buying the book.

Despite several crossovers of the current Supergirl with Nightwing (back in the earliest issues of the series), I thought I would take a look back at a little known Nightwing Supergirl crossover featuring the Earth Angel PAD Supergirl. And so here is 'The Rage of Angels' from 2000's The Batman Chronicles #20.

Writer Ian Edginton puts Supergirl into the darker corners of Bludhaven, seeing how she will react to the horrors of the Gotham area. Contrasting the methods of the Bat family and the Super family always makes for a good story. Which way is better? Who will adopt the methods of the other? As the angel of fire, she meted out some hard justice from time to time, usually learning the hard way that pride comes before the fall.

Artist Mshindo brings a nice style here. I never mind seeing the Matrix costume and the fire wings but I think I am in the minority.

The story starts as many Batman family stories do, on a dark pier in the wee hours of the morning.

Crouched in a bridge's supports, Nightwing takes in the scene. Criminal members of Russian military have been bringing weapons into Bludhaven. Nightwing is there to stop them in the usual shadowy quiet manner of the Bat-team.

That plan changes in a hurry when Supergirl arrives in the splashy primary colored manner of the Superman family. Apparently the two heroes know each other, a brief meeting in a JLA/Titans crossover. I don't know that story so if someone can fill in some information, I'd be thrilled.

One of these the things that works well here is the sudden change in the coloring palette, changing the feeling of the story from noir to splashy.

Nice dizzying shot here by Mshindo, Supergirl flying down on a tilted panel. It really brings the reader into the 3-dimensions of this fight.

Realizing that the time for stealth is over, Nightwing jumps into the fray. The presence of Supergirl makes the Russians bring out the heavy ordnance, firing grenades.

Supergirl has been tracking some weapons found in Leesburg back to Bludhaven. That explains why she is here. It is implied that her father, Police officer Fred Danvers, leaked her the info. Her speech has the flavor of someone judgmental. The pause as she spits out 'this ... filth' adds to the emotion of that line. You can feel her disgust.

The fight takes a bizarre twist as the Russians end up turning their explosive weapons on their own weapon. They realize that they are going down, two super-heroes on deck, FBI boats closing in (man everyone knew about this operation!). The only thing left to do is decrease the charges by destroying the evidence.

With the boat ablaze, Nightwing and Supergirl hear people screaming in terror. There is more on this boat than guns.

In the beginning of the story, Nightwing seems annoyed at Supergirl's presence. She made his plan of a slick silent attack impossible. Now, with more at stake, he realizes he needs her. There are some things beyond his abilities.

That's right ... there are more than weapons in the boat. There are refugees being smuggled into the states. And the Russians were going to kill these people by sinking the ship.

Suddenly they are more than arms dealers. They are killers (okay ... attempted killers) ... and killers of innocents.

And here is a great moment in the story. Nightwing talks about how Bruce trained him to keep his emotions in check even in the face of the horrific. How to control your emotions and channel that energy into something positive.

But Supergirl didn't have that training. He can see the anger on her face. And he wonders what she'll do.

It is a good question to ask. Remember this was the Linda Danvers Supergirl. How would she judge these men?

It comes to a head when the captured ship captain begins denying just about everything and then complaining about ill treatment. Supergirl grabs him, worrying Nightwing. Would she lash out? It is interesting that he would be so worried about this from someone in the Super-family when my guess is it is usually the other way around.

Supergirl reassures Nightwing that she won't hurt him, instead enveloping the man in her wings of fire.

It's hard to guess what he saw in there. A vision? Some glimpse of his soul or his sins? That isn't a power we saw her have in the main book. Maybe she just threatened him enough to scare him. We certainly saw her do that throughout the book. Either way, she put the fear of God into the man. I lover that first panel. Such a powerful image of Supergirl.

With everyone safe and the bad guys captured, the two separate, Nightwing with a new respect for her.

I thought this was a very nice little short story showcasing some of the main elements of the two characters. And, like many of the best World's Finest stories, it also contrasts the two different styles of the hero families and how difficult it would be for them to jibe. It also shows how sometimes they need to team up to get the job done. Edginton does a nice job capturing the heroes' voices. And it makes some sense that Nightwing would need to learn to trust Supergirl.

And Mshindo does a very good job here, varying angles and perspective in a story that could have been done in a straight forward manner.

Of course, I am a sucker for the PAD Supergirl.

From a Supergirl collection point of view, it is of low importance, a throw away story in a Batman anthology. This would definitely be in the 50 cent box in most stores/conventions so it might be worth purchasing, especially for fans of the PAD Linda Danvers.

Overall grade: B


valerie21601 said...

From what I have read and seen about Linda Danvers is the amount of respect her character was usually given by not just Peter David but whenever she crossover into other characters series by the other writers, they would stay true to her core, her looks and the details of her powers.

Sadly with the current Kara Zor-El (outside of Batgirl) when she crossover into other series. The other writers dissed her and did it a lot.

Gear said...

Thanks ANJ! Great review, I loved that version of Supergirl and followed PAD's run from beginning to end but I never saw that particular crossover. I'm going to have to go hunting now. I like stories where at least a portion of the narrative is driven by the contrast between two characters, that dynamic is one of the things that makes Bat/Super crossovers work so well.

Is the artist Mshindo Kumba? I knew he had done some work for DC but didn't know where he had appeared.

Diabolu Frank said...

I like Supergirl, and I like Nightwing, but they make for an awkward combination. Weirds me out.

Anj said...

Is the artist Mshindo Kumba? I knew he had done some work for DC but didn't know where he had appeared.

I don't know. The credits only say Mshindo. Liked the art no matter who did it.

Mshindo I. said...

Yes The artist Is Mshindo Kuumba. I am he. LOL never saw this article. kool!
More Mshindo here:

Thanx for posting this and giving real love! Peace.

latzoo kofi sika said...

Great work from Mshindo DC comics need to interest with this prolific artis , see his artbook its the bomb !

Martin Gray said...

I'm a little late to this particular party, having just come across the issue digitally today, so forgive me. I really love Mshindo's art, Supergirl is so graceful and powerful. You make me appreciate the story more than I did (back in 2011 people smuggling wasn't yet a tired trope reflecting the sad reality). I wish we saw more from Ian Edginton at DC.