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I want to start by saying my own expectations were very possibly a huge stumbling block in my enjoyment of this series. I came as a huge Batgirl2009 fan and was mostly following this story for the sake of Steph. I got a lot of other cool stuff along the way, and some REALLY not so cool stuff as well. There is a really fantastic Batman story here, but it just demands some trimming.
Stripping the story to its basics, the first third involves a conspiracy to put Commissioner Gordon out of the way, return Carmine Falcone to Gotham and set up to Stephanie and the Cluemaster's later storylines.These stories are all tackled pretty well and pretty consistently. And Julia Pennyworth is eventually introduced to the Bat-family quite well. It's just when the story begins taking needless detours to Rio, a haunted Arkham and nanobots that things start to hurt. None of these three stories in question add much to the grand narrative and we could have tackled their matters in a more organic, flowing way. But nope, they're just three distractions more than anything else. A real treat to this arc besides the obvious was Magnificent Bastard Jason Bard, who is never more entertaining than he is here.
The second arc probably has the most going for it, with Hush as its central antagonist (always an awesome choice) and bringing the issues of the other Bat-family members closer to Gotham, so we're not so painfully spread out. This is also when Harper Rowe really starts to get involved, and yeah, she's a real Love It or Hate It matter. I do not like her myself, but think she's less painful on a second read through. Stephanie also dons the Spoiler costume and gets some really kickass moments against her father and Hush. Julia comes into her own as well here, and that's really nice. The Tim and Harper along with the Arkham subplots don't add much, but we do get a glorious scene of The Spectre bitchslapping Deacon Blackfire back into hell. I suppose there is merit to the idea that if you have to be pointless, may as well be awesome while you're doing it.
Most of the final arc is a real drag. Subplots don't feel like they amount to much, we spend too much time with awesome villains being unexpectedly boring and that. Batman running himself into the ground begins to reflect how I feel continuing to read the story. My heart isn't racing at how it will end, I'm just hoping we get there soon so I can be entertained again.
...Now with that said, the final three issues are a complete hell of a ride. Does all the seemingly wasted time have a pay off? I really think so. Considering the insane amount of spoilered material on the main page, I won't give it away here, but this book does seriously come around again at the end, particularly with delivering one of the finest comic twists I've ever seen.
So... Yeah. I liked this one when all was said and done, but would have liked it more if not for all those pointless bits.
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