Batman tracks down Mad Hatter’s operation, but is overpowered. He runs into Catwoman, who has stolen his hubcap to try and get his attention. We get another flashback of Mad Hatter’s, where we learn the source of his insanity was a dangerous testosterone pill he took as a child. And then Batman reveals who he is to his current F.R.I. (Forced Romantic Interest, thanks to ERod).
Whooo boy, and we were doing so well with this story. Where do I even begin? Perhaps with what I liked. I like the way Van Sciver draws Batman’s cape. It’s a bit odd, but the way it’s put together makes it look like proper bat wings when the air catches it.
I like the fact that Catwoman made a random appearance, even though it basically affirms that we’re back to the early stage of their relationship. I liked where it had gone before the New 52, so going back to square one is annoying. And confusing, considering they did the nasty in Catwoman 001.
Aaaand that’s about it. Let’s move on to the meat of this review. First off, that is the worst doctor in the history of ever. He’s offering a drug, one he’s said that he doesn’t like, that has side effects that would keep that drug from ever making it beyond basic test phases in the real world. It could possibly lead to psychopathy!? That’s not an acceptable side effect ever! Why is he even mentioning this pill of the damned? Why is he offering a drug, with potentially cripling mental side effects, to a teenager!? This is a kid, in an emotionally and mentally unstable phase of his life, and you think that it’s okay to give him an experimental drug that would possibly drive him insane just so he can be taller!?!?!?
And why are his parents allowing this? He’s still in high school, that means he’s younger than eighteen, that means he’s a minor! It’s their job to protect him from making the kind of emotionally charged decision he makes. When Alice rejects him, shock of shock, he makes the wrong choice and downs the whole bottle!
Also, I don’t know much about the human body, but would enhanced testosterone really drive someone insane? If yes, that would explain so much about our current society.
So yeah, the Mad Hatter is insane thanks to negligent parents and medical professionals. This wouldn’t be a problem if the whole thing weren’t so contrived to be some kind of tragedy, which doesn’t work when literally every step that lead him to that fate could have been avoided by an adult with any kind sense of responsibility.
And then there’s Bruce, learning absolutely nothing from his decades long history (thanks New 52), who signs whatsherface’s death warrant by revealing his secret identity. One, seriously, what’s so special about her? She’s not that impressive, or important in the long run. She’ll be dropped from the Batman mythos, so the time spent building her up as some kind of soulmate for Bruce comes across as ludicrous.
If it didn’t come across as every other single Batman story where Bruce has a romantic interest other than Talia or Selina. The woman will eventually be forgotten, and most probably will not survive the story. And what is supposed to be a big moment lacks any kind of gravitas thanks to the fact that it is aimed at a character that has nothing to do with Batman overall. Hush did that moment right, having Bruce reveal himself to someone he has known for a long, long time. Here, it seems like more of a whim than anything else. If they’re meant to have a deep connection, I just don’t see it. Nor do I see it supported by any of the other Batman books.
I would have given this issue a one out of five, but despite the topic material itself, the moment where Catwoman shows up made the book feel like a more classic Batman story. In the current New 52 all the characters are segregated from each other. I miss the days when they interacted in the same stories, and this is at least a step in the right direction. However, everything else in this book raises too many questions, and just pulls me out of the story completely. Which is a shame, I was enjoying this story so far.