Writer: Jon Lewis
Artists: Shane Davis (p), Mark Lipka (i)
The book opens with Robin and Stephanie continuing their conversation, and we see Tim's unsure what to say, but his conflicted state is nothing compared to Stephanie, as we see she isn't quite sure why she's so upset to learn that her father was killed. However, before Tim can get his act together and help Stephanie with her problem, we see he's called away by Nightwing, as the scientists who run the prison facility where Charaxes is being taken want to speak with him. Meanwhile the swimming pool filled with Charaxes' offspring has become the sight of a heated debate as several groups have arrived claiming they have the right to take these creatures into their custody. However, this debate is cut short when a S.T.A.R. scientist falls into the pool, and is apparently ripped apart by the creatures. Meanwhile back with Nightwing & Robin, we see their plane is diverted by a falsified message that the craft had been sabotaged, and is ready to explode. However while they manage to safely land the craft and get well away from it, the two discover that the warning was a fake. What's more we see Charaxes is set loose, and a monster-hunter calling himself Jaeger arrives on the scene to track down the fleeing creature.
This issue is very much along the lines of the previous issues in Jon Lewis' run on this title, in that it's an interesting read, but one never really gets the sense that the material is in all the big a hurry to get where its going. I mean this issue we get a brief little talk between Tim & Stephanie that doesn't really establish much beyond the idea that Stephanie is conflicted over how she feels about her father's death. We then get a scene where Tim & Nightwing make their way toward a holding facility where Charaxes is going to be locked away, when they are tricked into diverting from this path, and Charaxes is set loose so he can become the prey for DC's version of Kraven the Hunter. I mean, in essence I've described the entire story in the span of two sentences, and while there is also a secondary plot showing us what is being done with Charaxes’ offspring, this plot doesn't do anything beyond establish an amusing conflict regarding what is to be done with the creatures. Now as I said the book is interesting, and I look forward to reading it each month, but I can't help but feel that the material could have a little more meat on its bones, and Jon Lewis could stand to pick up the pace on his stories, as they do have a meandering quality to them.
If it had been just Tim alone then I don't think I'd be making to much of a fuss, as from a character standpoint I can see how Tim would reason out the idea that they simply didn't have the time to rescue Charaxes before the plane exploded. I mean Tim is a true blue hero, but he's also quite practical when it comes to recognizing what can, and can't be done in a given situation. To this end he's far closer to Batman's mindset than Nightwing will ever be. On the other hand Nightwing is very much cut from the same cloth that makes up heroes like Spider-Man & Superman, in that they will put their own lives on the line to rescue a hated enemy. With this in mind I had some real trouble accepting the idea that Nightwing would leave Charaxes to die, even though the plane was believed to be mere seconds from exploding. I mean, I've spent most of my life following the adventures of Dick Grayson, and given he's one of the few heroes who has actually aged right along side me, from a young, unseasoned leader in the new Teen Titans, to a well established solo hero, I feel a certain affinity toward the character. That's why I have trouble accepting this relatively unimportant detail, as while the plane was never in any danger of exploding, Nightwing's actions made it clear he was willing to let Charaxes die to save his own life.
Pete Woods takes the month off, and his replacement is Shane Davis. I guess the best compliment that I can make about Shane Davis' art is that I was actually surprised when I was typing in the credits for this issue and discovered that Pete Woods hadn't provided the art. However, with this new knowledge in mind as I type this review I did notice that Shane Davis' faces are a little sharper, and in general the line work is less fluid. Still the resemblance is still quite impressive, and the amount of detail on the page left me eager to see Shane Davis' next project. His backgrounds do a great job of conveying their various environments, with the rooftop meeting in the opening pages between Robin & the Spoiler being particularly well handled. The plane that he offers up is also quite impressive, as it looks like the high-tech marvel that it needs to be. The art also does some nice work on the facial expressions, as the sequence where Dick & Tim are waiting for the plane to explode is rather amusing, and the look of terror on the scientist's face as he falls into to swimming pool is also nicely done. The art also manages to handle the darkly comedic of the swimming pool that is infested with the offspring of Charaxes, as we see their propensity for violence is well established.
Not much to this issue, as Jon Lewis pretty much deals with a few scattered loose ends that were left over from the Charaxes arc that could've easily have been ignored. Now the pages dealing with Spoiler's conflicted feelings about her father's death are interesting, and the debate that erupts between the various group over who can lay claim to Charaxes' offspring was a cute look at what happens after the heroes leave. However, the main plot involving Charaxes being freed so he could be hunted down by Jaeger is the one that I had some problems with. First off it's not much of a story given the number of pages that were handed over to it, and the ending isn't all that impressive, as Jaeger barely made an impression on me during his first visit to these pages, so a return appearance is hardly enough of a reward. I also have real doubts that Nightwing would leave Charaxes to die, and having him do so displays a very poor understanding of the character.
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