script: Ray Fawkes / artists: Davide Furno & Paolo Armitano / DC Comics

After covering this book for the majority of my time here at Black Nerd Problems, I can tell you that these “calm before the storm” story arcs are hit or miss. For a book that seems to be at its best when it’s kicking ass, the slow moments feel a little too slow at times. Fortunately, such is not the case in this particular issue.

It’s Ray Fawkes’ turn on scripting duty for Issue 40. This week, Batman’s dead set on bringing the Riddler back to Gotham to help him get answers to solve the mystery behind who’s dragging the city further into madness. But Nygma isn’t making things easy, making Bats chase him through a snowstorm in the wilderness. Meanwhile back in the city, the villains are primed up to raise hell with Batman’s seized armaments, but Catwoman has a counter offer of her own. Of all the characters that get appropriate panel time, the women seem to have the most entertaining fare this time around. Vicki Vale being on the run from the police end of this conspiracy, despite only getting a few pages, feels as exciting as an old school John Grisham novel. This is a character who, quiet as kept, has been developed quite throughout this book’s tenure. And then there’s Catwoman.

The kingpin crown seems to fit Selina Kyle as perfectly as her currently mothballed costume. It’s nice to see what a character like her gets up to when Batman is the last thing on her mind. On the art side, Davide Furno and Paulo Armitano drew a fucking gorgeous book. They seem to really have fun with shadowy sense of crime noir this book has been lately. Even in a snowstorm, you get the feeling that Batman’s stalking you in a dark alleyway which is the appropriate tone for Batman at all times.

Bottom Line: As this book closes in on it’s climax, the creative team really begins to understand the kind of energy a book like this should have during it’s slower plot point. Ominous. Compelling. Entertaining. Pretty good way to follow up last week. 8.5 out of 10.

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