In Batman: War Games Book 1 New Edition, Gotham finds itself in a literal war zone when the entire underground battles for turf. Our caped crusader finds himself in the centre of this chaos as he fights to keep Gotham safe. Knowing how the Batman universe works, you know that this battle will not come without sacrifices and in War Games there is a HUGE one. With all of the subplots that take place throughout the extensive series, readers are kept on their toes wondering what happens next. While the plot line is certainly reminiscent of the Batman Series, this particular collection feels just a little bit different.
War Games Book 1 New Edition collects War Drums and War Games Act One: Outbreak
In total, Volume 1 of War Games collects: Batman: The 12-cent Adventure #1, Detective Comics #790-797, Robin #126-129, Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #182, Nightwing #96, Batman: Gotham Knights #56, Batman #631, Batgirl #55 and Catwoman #34.
|Book Name||Batman: War Games Book 1|
|Book Series||War Games|
|Edition Reviewed||Collected Edition (new)|
|Where to Buy||Amazon|
Batman: War Games Volume 1 Review
For starters, the artwork of this series is not that traditional comic book style many of us expect from reading comics and graphic novels. In terms of the actually full-out Batman portions, the artwork is much more distinct and with a different colour scheme, giving the story the appearance of being a little more realistic as well as adding to the bleakness factor, sort of similar to No Man’s Land and perhaps more specifically Cataclysm. While it is certainly not my favorite art style, I have to give the illustrators credit because it was still very well done. Because of the switching between so many different comics series within the instalment, I would have expected some sort of clash with the art styles, especially seeing that the individual comics seem to depict very individualistic atmospheres, I think this was executed perfectly and have no complaints at all. Extensive detail to both characters and scenery contributed to the overall atmosphere of War Games Book 1.
The first volume really begins at “Batman: War Drums,” as it is included in newer collections of the series. While this all starts out with seemingly random and unrelated stories, these are actually the foundation of the War Games series. I will say that I wasn’t too big of a fan of these “random stories.” I get that it was important in order to introduce War Games (which would include hundreds of pages on its own), but this really seemed rushed and nonorganic in a way. I would have much rather preferred a smoother introduction as I feel War Drums sole purpose was to be a convenient and fast introduction.
The action scenes were okay, but it was the plot that readers were supposed to be paying attention to. As Gotham goes wild during a turf war over “The Hill,” a lot goes down and the drama is not reserved to the city. Even within Batman’s circle of allies, a lot of major changes are happening. Leslie Thompkins goes missing, Gotham is becoming a deathtrap, and even a famous popstar vanishes. Most notably is that Time Drake steps down as Robin and is unexpectedly replaced with Stephanie Brown, aka the street vigilante, Spoiler. A pretty big event to just brush over, in my opinion – this little plot area turns out to be a major event later on in Volume 2.
I think the writing becomes much better as we enter Batman: War Games, Act 1, as I would expect from such a talented group of writers. Ed Brubaker, Andersen Gabrych, and Devin Grayson among others are credited with the writing. While it may seem like a bit of overkill among so many different writers all working on the same comic, I think that is actually what makes Batman War Games so great! One really cool thing about this instalment is that it is ultimately a crossover of so many different series within the Batman universe. It really gives you a little bit of everything you look for in a comic because in a sense it brings many different worlds together. I was a bit skeptical that the changing between series and perspectives would be a bit too busy for my taste like with what happened during Knightfall, but I thoroughly enjoyed this style and it was easy to follow.
My only real criticism of trying to give everyone their page time also took away from the plot line a bit. The first few chapters of War Games: Book 1 feel like they are going kind of slow because they are mainly made up of showcasing the Bat family as they defeat your run of the mill criminals in a monotonous manner. I do entirely get where writers were trying to get at with the whole “all the different people coming together kind of thing,” but it wasn’t entirely clear in the beginning. What was clear, at least, was the overall storyline as writers failed to really stray from the main points even with switching characters -which was a big plus on their part. For veterans, it was nice to get a comic that captured all of our favourite Batman characters and their prospective lives under a single binding. For newer readers, I think this set-up is actually very good for you as it carefully introduces you to each of the different characters in a rather informative and organised way. Although I do wish they made some of those early fight scenes more memorable, I found this “multiple perspectives” component an enjoyable part of the book and a particular reason to recommend it to others.
Now I will say to people about to read the book, the stories may not seem to flow so clearly. Especially when you don’t seem to have a big grasp on where the storyline is going yet, this may come across as a bit incohesive at times. It is important to readers that you do pay attention to the details as you’re reading. This book is long and you don’t want to find yourself confused because you weren’t paying close enough attention to one of the comics (especially Catwoman portions).
It is really hard to try to give a brief overview of the scenes going on because there are so many different things going on. Most of these battles are more or less predictable in my opinion, but there are some great fan favourites to look out for. In addition to all of the favourite bat family members (Catwoman, Batgirl, Oracle, Tim Drake (after retirement), and so on), there are a lot of great villains that make their appearance as well, almost all of them in fact.
Killer Croc, The Penguin, and the Aquistas get some page time. I will say that these battles are more exciting and memorable. It is at this point in the comic where I believe the writers will shine through! While these were great fight scenes, the biggest drama on the series seems to surround Stephanie Brown. She is having some difficulties filling in Robin’s suit and the tension between her and Bruce Wayne is very apparent in writing. As one would suspect, conflicts between her and Batman arise as she isn’t so great at following orders. Also, as expected, she holds a rather short-lived reign of Robin, as her failing to follow orders results in Bruce forcing her to step down from the position. She isn’t too fond about the decision and you can tell that her relentless to step down from the caped-crusaders side will land her into some real problems in the future.
I will say while I was a little bit disappointed by the plot progression of Volume 1 compared to other instalments in the Batman Franchise, these pages were action-packed. Normally, I think that people tend to prefer Batman for the cleverly written plots (Detective Comics), but this volume really felt like they were catering to another audience or were debuting characters that needed to have proper introductions. If you are looking for a particularly action-packed instalment look no further -for people that were expecting and looking forward to a dark and (more) depressing plot, keep reading on -because it will get there!
What I would say though is that War Games Volume 1 has a strong female presence with Barbara Gordon, Catwoman, Tarantula, Stephanie Brown, Leslie Thompkins and Cassandra Cain all present and kicking ass.
Overall, I give Batman: War Games Book 1 a 3.5/5. I loved where the entire series was going with bringing all members of the Batman family together for one epic beatdown -but the journey there felt like it was filled with rather unmemorable fight scenes and plot lines forced upon the reader just to reach an end point. While I do think more work could have been done with the earlier fight scenes, I think writers did an awesome job as the series overall progressed and made this particular installment rather action-packed compared to others. The awesome fight scenes were enjoyable, but I don’t think they were enjoyable enough to make up for a relatively unexciting plot. I will say, however, that thinks do pick up in the later volumes and I think this is still worth reading -especially for newer fans who are looking for a great way to be introduced to some of DC’s favorite characters.
Batman: War Games Book 1 Gallery
Last update on 2018-12-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API