Peter J. Tomasi, writer
Travis Moore & Max Raynor, artists
Tamra Bonvillian & Nick Filardi, colorists
Rob Leigh, letterer
This standalone issue begins in Paris. A caped skeleton vigilante named The Reaper kills a man who recently robbed a couple on vacation. Meanwhile, back in Gotham, Alfred and Bruce discuss the news report describing the incident in Paris. Bruce digs into his Black Casebook to uncover evidence of a previous run-in with The Reaper, a.k.a., Judson Caspian. Batman travels to Europe to confront Judson Caspian where a mystery unravels.
What I enjoyed about this story was Tomasi digging into Batman’s extensive catalog of villains and retelling a story with interesting changes. For example, Judson Caspian, the original Reaper, has a son who continues his father’s mission. And, the modernized Reaper is powered-up and a formidable challenge for Batman. However, the conflict lacked emotional depth because of the obscurity of the villain and the lack of previous build-up to this issue.
Another highlight of this book is how Alfred and Bruce worked together to flush out who this obscure vigilante is and how to find them. Bruce references his notes, a black case book, where he has notes for seemingly hundreds of obscure criminals. This poses some interesting ideas for the Batman mythos heading forward with lots of fun stories that could be told. However, I left the story feeling unfulfilled and empty. As fun as it is to witness the greatest detective in the DC in action, the story didn’t feel earned. Who is The Reaper, more importantly, why should I care about him? Perhaps the answers lies in future issues in The Year of the Villain? The most important message this book leaves us with: Untamed revenge can make you as bad as the villains you pursue.
Overall = 8/10
There is some fun detective-work exhibited by Bruce Wayne in this James Bond – like mystery story. Despite the obscurity of the villain, the combat scenes were top-notch! I recommend this story for Batman fans who enjoy old-fashioned Bang, Bam, Boom! Batman stories.