By Koppy McFad
September 11, 2011 - 02:26
This comic is a spin-off of BATMAN featuring an African superhero with similar trappings and an almost-identical name but in a very unfamiliar place, namely Africa.
This is quite a big change for US comics which are usually set on North America. Even more startling is that BATWING is set in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a real country and not some fictional place like Madripoor or Wakanda.
The story jumps right into the action with no effort made to tell the origin or background of the hero. We discover that in his secret ID: an honest cop in a crime-ridden city and now, he has to deal with a series of extremely brutal mass killings by a machete-wielding supervillain. There is a mystery to be solved and innocents to protect and all the backstory will have to wait for later.
Setting the story in a real African country is going to make things difficult as DC Comics will soon realise. The real Republic of Congo isn't too familiar to comic readers and such readers have not been to crazy about superhero stories set in foreign countries. DC's miniseries featuring China's Great Ten and Japan's Super Young Team did not sell that well. Additionally, people will be on the lookout for any signs of inaccuracy in its depiction of the Republic of Congo. If the writer is caught getting things wrong, you can bet the critics will pounce on him. It will also be hard enough to do a story highlighting the problems of the African continent without looking like you are exploiting them. Clearly, writing this comic will take a lot of skill and finesse.
The opening story is a typical murder mystery that could just as easily be set in any rundown American city. The characters so far are interesting but do not stand out yet. The story is intriguing but not yet gripping although the action scenes do have a lot of excitement.
The standout here is the art which has a photo-realistic look to it while also having an intense blend of colours that make every panel stand out, especially in the depiction of texture: fleshtones, cloth and armour. There are a lot of wide shots in this comic to take full use of the art.
The art may not be enough to overcome the huge challenges that this book faces in a very fickle marketplace. At the very least however, DC Comics deserves credit for doing something so daring. Hopefully, they can do it well.
Rating: 7 /10