Well, I guess an info dump had to happen sooner or later.
Still has some gorgeously grotesque artwork though.
Issue: Batman: Reptilian #4, September 2021
Writer: Garth Ennis
Artist: Liam Sharp
The Plot: The monster stands revealed as Batman figures out what the thing is and where it came from.
Commentary: Look, I get that, at some point, Garth Ennis was going to explain what was attacking all of Batman’s biggest enemies, taking a literal bite out of them, and leaving them for dead. It had to happen. This issue even provides a look at the thing, and Liam Sharp designed a perfectly hideous giant monster. But this issue was mostly Batman explaining where the thing (probably) came from to a very confused Killer Croc.
Essentially, Batman finds Croc trapped in a sewer, something attached to him, and Batman takes the time to not only explain Croc’s (probable) origins, information that not even Croc knew, and then to theorize (possibly) correctly as to what has been attacking all the bad guys in town. It’s a theory that makes a lot of sense, it fits in with the overall plot, and it does get into the more horror-aspects of a story like this, one where Croc’s inhuman appearance belies the fact that he probably isn’t human after all. In fact, this issue offers a backstory that says Croc maybe isn’t. What Croc is is something of a scientific oddity on multiple levels. This mini-series in a previous issue showed Batman and Alfred positing how little they knew about Killer Croc, particularly whether he was part crocodile, someone with a weird skin condition, or something else entirely.
It looks like Ennis settled on “something else entirely”.
So, here I am wondering how much to say about the issue. Do I just say what happened, Croc’s connection to it, or do I hold to a spoiler policy of some kind? Generally when I write up a “Noteworthy Issues” column, I stick to the idea that at the very least a twist on the last page, the kind designed to keep a hypothetical reader coming back, will be omitted in these reviews, but then are more than likely to be discussed in the next write-up when I move on to the next issue. True, I get back to some series faster than others, but I’m still here all the same, working off that policy. And for a comic that isn’t even a year old and that I am more or less reviewing as DC Infinite releases them, it does feel kinda new.
So, for now, I am going to hold off on saying what the thing is and Croc’s connection to it. Instead, I’ll say this: info dump issues, which is what this one is, are hard to pull off, and Ennis doesn’t quite do it here.
Setting aside that it seems unlikely that Batman could have just pulled all that information out of nowhere between issues–he’s Batman, and a certain amount of that is to be expected–but this issue is basically 75% of Batman simply telling Croc what was going on, how it related back to the meeting Batman learned about in the first issue, and what was going to happen when the thing got back to Croc. It would have been highly unlikely given the mini-series’s title that the thing would not somehow be related to Killer Croc, but the result is a rather boring, if still important, issue.
Granted, it’s also sprinkled with the idea that this Batman doesn’t really care how much his enemies get hurt. He may not actively wish them dead, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t above letting something big and scary rough them up a bit, and given Croc seems to dwarfed by the monster when it shows up, this is a very big and scary thing.
However, there are two issues left of the series to show how Batman will be taking care of this thing. I don’t think he’s going to be letting it run loose in Gotham City even after it’s taken a bite out of every criminal in the city. Then again, with this Batman, who knows?