War Games, Act 2

War Games 2Summary: The middle act of the hit cataclysmic story! Written by Ed Brubaker, Bill Willingham and others Art by Al Barrionuevo, Paul Gulacy and others Cover by James Jean.

Reprinting stories from DETECTIVE COMICS #798, BATMAN: LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT #183, NIGHTWING #97, BATMAN: GOTHAM KNIGHTS #57, ROBIN #130, BATGIRL #56, CATWOMAN #35 and BATMAN #632.

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War Games, Act 2, by various authors and various artists 7.5

In volume two of ‘War Games‘, Batman continues to try to stop the massive gang war that’s unfolding in Gotham City, not realizing that he was the mastermind behind it – that Spoiler put in motion one of his many contingency plans to prove her worth to him.

What she didn’t realize, however, is that the one person it all hinged on, Matches Malone, is actually Batman himself. And so the plan doesn’t quite unfold as expected, given that Batman is not coordinating the events – he’s trying to prevent them.

When Spoiler confides in Catwoman, the latter decides to let the word slip to Batman, who by that time has figured it out – and remembers that Orpheus is key to the conclusion of these events. So he gets everyone to find Orpheus, alert, and protect him.

But it’s too late: Orpheus is dead!

Volume two contains a further eight parts of the sprawling storyline culled from various Batman-related books. At this juncture it’s far more action-based, given that it’s dealing with an all-out war between rival gangs and wannabe crimelords.

Sadly, it isn’t nearly as interesting from a plot perspective, aside for Spoiler’s deep remorse over the events and her attempts to make it right – which plays right into the hands of Black Mask, who proceeds to torture her for information.

There’s a remaining element of Tim’s dilemma about returning to Batman’s fold as Robin. In Part 5, there’s a great discussion with his father about his sense of responsibility, the risks he’s willing to take to help out, and his father’s acceptance.

It ends in a terrific scene at Dr. Thompkins’ clinic, volunteering and giving blood together. I really liked that because it sends the message to readers that there’s more than one way to be a hero, and it inspires a certain amount of civic duty.

One thing that left me a bit incredulous, however, is that Batman had the gall to ask the Police Commissioner to lend him his officers so that he could coordinate them in the fight. Naturally, Commissioner Akins told him to go stuff himself.

But he eventually took over anyway: he shut down all communications and started to command the police officers who, for some inexplicable reason, were willing to go along even though they don’t know how credible he is or if he has any authority.

Ahem.. yeah, right!

The book also makes Batman come off as a jerk. I get the impression he’s always been one, but he’s particularly dismissive and rude with Oracle, who’s his eyes and ears in this scenario. She struggles with it, but his behaviour’s nothing new to her.

The thing that left me most baffled is that we discover that the events of the first book all took place in JUST ONE NIGHT. I mean, there had been hints, but it wasn’t spelled out like in this book. Woah, all of this carnage happened in just 24 hours?

That doesn’t seem right at all.

And yet, ultimately, ‘War Games: Act Two’ is a more cohesive whole that the first volume. Though it’s been written by various authors, it actually gels together well. And even the art is slightly better this time. So I’m quite interested to read Act 3 .

I wonder where this will all lead, and how this war will end.

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