Batman: War Games Book 2 picks up right where it left off in Book 1 with our favorited caped crusader as he tries to rebuild Gotham City. After Stephanie Brown, formerly The Spoiler and Robin, accidently follows through with one of Batman’s contingency plans, Gotham’s underground is left without any leaders and chaos ensues as criminals fight to control some of the underworld’s most dangerous families. Unbeknownst to Batman initially, he scours the city to investigate who started this gang war and bring them to justice. As this installment aims to finalize the entire War Games arc, it brings about a gritty tale of betrayal and action that perfectly represents the Batman franchise while overshadowing it’s previous volume. War Games Book 2 includes The second two chapters of War Games as well as War Crimes making Book 1 and 2 the complete collection.
Batman: War Games Book 2 new edition collects Batgirl #56-57, Batman #632-634, 643-644, Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #183-184, Batman: Gotham Knights #57-58, Catwoman #35-36, Detective #798-800, 809-810, Nightwing #97-98, Robin #130-131.
|Book Name||Batman: War Games Book 2|
|Book Series||War Games|
|Edition Reviewed||Collected Edition (new)|
|Where to Buy||Amazon|
Batman: War Games Book 2 Review
To start off, I am in love with the phenomenal cover art of this newer collection released in 2016 (War Games was originally published in 2005). It is sad, dramatic, and perfectly captures all the theme of heartbreak that will be captured throughout the entire storyline. For those readers who prefer some of the more classic look as opposed to modern comic illustration, James Jean created a cover art gallery featuring the original cover art from the original paperback releases of a few of the collected editions. Beyond the cover art, the illustration throughout the entire installment very high quality and modern. You’ll love it if you prefer the newer style of art. Perfect color scheme choice and good attention to details really help engage you into the storyline -not that any more incentive is even necessary.
With Gotham in complete shambles and strained relationships between Bruce Wayne and the Batman family, there is a lot of drama to follow. After firing Stephanie as Robin for disobeying orders, Batman is going solo with some intel from the Oracle. What Batman doesn’t know is that in attempts to regain Batman’s favor, she steals one of his contingency plans to put Matches Malone in charge of Gotham’s underground. This is all without her realizing Batman is actually Malone, accidently sparking a shootout where the gang’s leaders are left for dead and the gang war to rank is created. Without Batman or Stephanie Brown realizing what happened, it is only a matter of time before the grisly discovery is made. Readers know that this information will come out, it’s just a matter of time, and with every event I was left wondering just how exactly was this all going to end.
Citizens have already deemed the chaotic events as the collapse of Gotham (not quite as bad as during the events of No Man’s Land, though), and to make matters worse police have admitted they are losing faith in Batman (where have we heard this before?). Among the crowd of concerned citizens listening to these announcements, a concerned and retired Tim Drake watches, pained with guilt. Ultimately, he decides to relinquish his “normal” life and returns to Wayne Manor to don the old Robin suit try to help Batman put an end to the madness -a decision that Alfred finds all too bittersweet.
There was a lot to deal with in the opening, and it should go without saying that any reader really needs to pay attention to War Games: Book 1 if they have any intentions on keeping up with the storyline. While there is a considerable amount going on, I think it really sets the scene for all that is to come in the following chapters.
As the story continues, Catwoman confronts Spoiler who was trying to fix the whole gang war with trying to implement one of Batman’s “plans.” She finally explains to Stephanie that the plan isn’t working because Matches Malone is actually Batman. Upon this new information, Stephanie tries to run off to attempt to fix what she’d done, only to be taken down by Catwoman and dragged to Catwoman’s allies’ apartment to be babysat until further notice. With the realization that this is all of her fault, Stephanie makes Catwoman promise not to tell Batman the truth before she leaves. This doesn’t stop Catwoman for passing the information along to Leslie Thompkins, an age-old ally to Batman, so that she can give Bruce the information he needs to end this thing. All the while, Batman, with a new prime suspect in mind, alerts the Bat family to start patrolling -although he is unable to gain support from Gordon. All in the moment, Robin dramatically enters and the dynamic duo is ceremoniously back together.
I have to say, I really feel bad for Stephanie in this moment. She is like a child unsuccessfully trying to impress her strict father. Only, because of her position, this failure lead to an all-out gang war resulting in countless casualties. I have to say there is something depressingly relatable about watching superhero-teams dealing with typical, average Joe problems. The ethics of younger people fighting crime is going to become a crucial theme of the storyline, and looking back now that I know how the entire thing turns out, watching Stephanie upset like this is just all the more devastating. On a lighter note though, when you see the Bat Family being summoned all together, you know some awesome action scenes are about to go down!
These action scenes are excellently delivered in the following chapters as the Bat Family fights together to end this gang war. Fan favorite villains such as the Penguin, Killer Kroc, and the Ventriloquist are among countless gang criminals that appear in the following chapters. With all of the different members of the Bat Family fighting at once, we get to see a lot of awesome locations, fighting styles, and even vehicles!
This combination of several different comic book universes is perfectly delivered. I think this was very enjoyable as I a fan of all of the comics. While I do think War Games Book 1 carried this out very well, I believe that this second installment did better. It really offered writers the opportunity to get creative with storyline and perspective as all of the different superheroes got together under one -really long -book.
All of the great action scenes come at a price, and as any reader of the Batman franchise knows, it was just a matter of time before tragedy strikes. There were several different, horrible things that happened throughout the book, but there is one event that stood apart above all.
I’m warning you now that I am about to expose a major spoiler -so read on at your own risk! After Stephanie Brown (unsparingly) escapes the apartment she is being monitored at, she set out the recklessly try to make up for what she had done. In her attempts, she ends up being captured by the Black Mask, the ultimate villain in this installment. Writers did not hold back at all as the Black Mask brutally tortures her. In the end of it all, she manages to escape. Readers are thrown through an emotional rollercoaster as readers are left wondering if she is actually going to make it. When the critically injured vigilante managed to make her way into Leslie Thompson’s clinic, readers are finally given a moment to breath as they know the trusted physician has everything under control… except, she doesn’t. In a horrible and unexpected twist, she allows Brown to die of her injuries by properly mistreating her -something that Batman himself doesn’t find out initially.
During this time, Bruce Wayne is understandably tortured by the death of Stephanie Brown. It becomes a pivotal moment in the entire franchise that comes up in continuity events in addition to the rest of the War Games installment. Yet again, Batman is left with a murdered youth and tortured with guilt. Only later to find out that one of his oldest and closest allies was ultimately responsible, this installment marked yet another devastating blow to Batman. Worse yet is her reasoning behind letting her parish. This whole event gave many Batman readers a bad taste as Stephanie Brown was by all accounts a very popular character.
“I’d originally planned to claim it was a legitimate triage decision — allocation of time and resources under emergency conditions. But we both know better, Bruce. Truth is I wanted to end it all — all the secret warriors in hoods and capes. The endless violence. I could no longer be a party to such madness. Best to sacrifice one to caution others from putting on those stupid masks.” -Leslie Thompkins
This quote really stood out to me above everything else in the entire comic. Ultimately, letting Brown die was her way of intentionally guilting Batman into keeping kids out of his schemes. In a way, it’s messed up because certainly no one saw one of the most trusted Batman allies -and a physician no less -being ultimately responsible for the passing of yet another sidekick. I know I am not alone on this, as her betrayal seemed to hit the fan community hard. Not only had a main character met an untimely end (and many believed didn’t get the kind of monumental recognition she deserved as Jason Todd did), but also because of such an intense betrayal. Imagine if Alfred was to randomly pull something like this! Is there no one the Bat can trust?
While I was personally upset by the storyline, it was definitely well written and deserved a 4/5. This enjoyable rendition had everything a comic fan could look for in this entire installment. There was loads of action-packed scenes with some awesome villains (like their battle against The Penguin). There was even a lot more low-key drama than in previous installments (such as when Brown thought she saw Drake cheating on her). To top it all up, we got to see the entire Bat Family working together in an epic tale that has become a rather important classic in the DC universe. I would really recommend this entire installment. I was a little critical of the first volume, but I must say it was a strong finish that makes the extensive graphic novel worth reading.
Very much enjoyed it but also glad it’s over.
Where To Buy It
Batman: War Games Book 2 Gallery
Last update on 2020-09-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API