Writer/Artist: Paul Pope, Jose Villarrubia(c)
I defy anybody to find a Batman story that moves as fast as this one. Paul Pope provides lightning rapid excitement and a smart Batman who has to be the real deal. Pope throughout the story implies that his Batman of the future is our Batman of the present as well as the Bat-Man of the past. I find just the idea of that tickling.
When last we left Batman, he had discovered a false tooth in a dead Fed. The tooth's hidden cache of information suggests horrible global consequences. Batman in uncovering the tooth finds himself surrounded, in a federal lab, by the Gotham Tigers--a weird fusion of a paramilitary unit and football team. Can Batman, armed only with a pair of grotesque teeth, apparently loaned out by Richard Wentworth, and his utility belt, escape to prevent what appears to be the next holocaust?
Oh, hell yeah! He's Batman!
Paul Pope does not just examine one aspect of Batman. He absorbs and embraces the entirety. The ghoulish false face draws upon his mystique. Pope's Batman uses the utility belt not as a last resort but as a weapon. Paul Pope's Batman is not afraid to use gadgetry. He learns from his encounters and adapts. He also bears the heart of a hero, and it's his heroism that attracts others to his cause. Pope's Batman is a cunning strategist and human in the way he huffs and puffs and gets dirty. Best of all, he can be defeated. You "cowardly, superstitious lot" aren't going to defeat him though because he's Batman!
After escaping the Gotham Tigers, Batman meets up with an even greater potential threat, and here the pace stops dead. This isn't however a dead calm. It's a moment filled with suspense that reflects Batman's weaknesses and his deadly opponent's strengths. One moment of distraction is however all it takes to set this story back on its warp speed course.
When Batman returns to his headquarters, he and his group of compatriots--consisting of a Robin and a non-crippled Oracle--discover the hidden messages concealed in the tooth and the reason why the Fed was killed. Pope takes his corrupt future borne out of the slippery slope and brings a threat to that future that goes beyond mere staining. This new escalation demands the attention of Batman. Fortunately for the world, Batman is back!
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