Batman: War Games #1: Outbreak |
by various writers & artists (DC Comics, 2005)
There's a heat wave in Gotham City, and Stephanie Brown -- best known to readers as the young vigilante Spoiler, although she recently did a short stint, before being fired by Batman, as his sidekick Robin -- watches in horror as a gathering of gangland bosses turns into a bloodbath. With several gangs now leaderless and others pushing to seize new turf, Gotham becomes a battlefield.
Outbreak, volume one of the War Games trilogy of books, tracks the initial growth of mayhem as Batman and his team -- Batgirl, Nightwing, Oracle, Orpheus, Onyx, Tarantula and, to some extent, Catwoman -- try to stem the tide of violence. Isolated incidents become more concentrated as some factions break an unwritten rule and start targeting civilians: specifically, the spouses and children of several top gangsters. Things really heat up when a move is made to kidnap or kill the teenage daughter of one mob boss at the city school that Tim Drake -- the previous Robin, now grudgingly retired -- also attends.
And for one TV newsman, the gang war is the means to proving once and for all that Batman, an urban legend, truly exists. Ironically, Batman's attempt to save a young girl's life exposes him to the media and for inexplicable reasons gets him blamed for her death.
The story focuses less on Batman's usual assortment of costumed and gimmicky foes, more on organized crime, turf building and gangland hits. It's intense and gripping -- especially when the action moves to the school and children become involved.
War Games dominated the various Batman titles in 2004, and this collection brings the story together in a neat and easy-to-follow package. It's a solid read that should please Bat fans and casual readers alike. It is followed by two more volumes in the War Games saga, as well as a coda to the adventure in War Crimes.
14 June 2008
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