By: Adam Basciano

While the first issue left me anticipating more, the second installment left me confused and shocked. The issue kicks off with Jim Gordon and Oswald Cobblepot discussing Thomas Wayne, who is sleeping off his injuries, which are relatively minor for him.  Jim meets with Oracle to discuss a possible lead on The Joker .  The Flashpoint Universe Oracle is in the same predicament of her main stream counterpart.  However, in this universe Oracle is Selina Kyle.  While she may not be Catwoman, she still has a cat fetish.  I counted five cats on the page, which means if a version of me exists in this fictional universe, I’ve got no chance at hooking up with Selina, thanks to my allergies. Damn!  Anyways, Jim Gordon fills Batman in on Joker’s latest crime, the murder of a pizza delivery boy who was found dead in the river with his eyes in his pocket.  Once the dead pizza boy’s car is tracked nearby Wayne Manor, Batman and Gordon rush to the scene.  Gordon arrives first and appears to get the drop on Joker, who’s about ready to kill one of the hostages.  Gordon opens fire, nailing the Joker right in the chest.  The only problem is Gordon’s been duped.  Joker used the other child captive as a decoy.  As Gordon stands stunned by what he’s done, The Joker slits his throat with a knife.  Batman bursts onto the scene screaming; “Damn It! What have you done this time Martha!?”

Holy Martha Stewart Batman! Martha Wayne is a criminal. Rather then lying to investigator’s about a stock sale of Wayne Casino’s, she’s become the Joker, a kidnapping killer. Here I though the reveal of Thomas Wayne as Batman was a shocker.  This gender-bending jaw dropper trumps that by about one thousand.  I find it fascinating that Thomas and Martha Wayne are using the exact same tragedy as a motive for completely opposite end games.  Thomas wants to prevent such a tragedy from happening again, while Martha wants others to experience the same pain and loss she has.  The other aspect of this story that left me intrigued, was the Selina Kyle/Jim Gordon segment.  First off, Selina reveals that in this universe Gordon is a work – a – holic, and doesn’t have any children.  Also, while it is never outright stated, Selina alludes to the fact that the Joker was responsible for her paralysis, and that she may have had children, which the Joker may have harmed, or even killed. That last bit is speculation on my part, but hopefully the final issue of this series elaborates on this plot point.  My only problem with this story so far, is its connection or lack thereof to the main series.  Every other Flashpoint series makes a direct reference to the main series.  This book, with the exception of a throw away quote makes no reference to the events of Flashpoint.  Batman was looking for Joker during Flashpoint # 1.  So, does this take place somewhere in between the first couple issues of Flashpoint? Or, is this an isolated adventure?

The art once again, leaves me impressed and disappointed at the same time. Thanks to the clever use of shadow the reveal of Martha Wayne came as a complete and utter shock.  Add to the fact that Martha looks slightly creepier than mainstream Joker, and Eduardo Risso deserves some credit.  However, the depiction of blood and violence in this issue bothered me quite a bit.  This issue felt more like a “True Blood” episode rather than a Batman comic book. Sure there’s been blood and violence in a  Batman book before, but here it was a bit excessive. In my opinion, there’s no reason to show that much blood gushing from Commissioner Gordon’s neck. If that wasn’t enough, I think a child getting shot is where I draw the line.  I realize there have been more violent acts in comic books, but artists have found clever ways to portray it, so that it still is shocking and disturbing, but in a tamer way.  Wonder Woman beheading Mera in a recent Flashpoint tie in, is a good example.  Someone forgot to tell Azzarello and Risso, that this was a Batman book, not 100 Bullets.  This issue could have easily ranked a 9 or a 10.  From a story telling aspect they raised the bar from last issue. However, the lack of cohesiveness to the Flashpoint story, and a uncessary abundance of blood, gore, and violence slightly deters my enjoyment of this issue.

Overall Grade: 7/10