War Drums

Authors: Andersen Gabrych and Bill Willingham
Artists: Various
Titan Books
RRP 11.99
ISBN 1 84023 969 7
Available 21 January 2005

It all starts with a small skirmish: a talented pop star goes missing and Leslie Thompkins, the most important woman in Bruce Wayne's life, subsequently vanishes. Then Batman is drawn into an all-out battle for the section of Gotham City known as The Hill. And when Tim Drake gives up his Robin identity, Batman gets an unexpected - and unwelcome - replacement in the form of Spoiler!...

War Drums is a collection of stories that are loosely linked. The narrative of the first half of this book follows Batman as he tracks down the kidnapper of his friend and saviour Leslie Thompkins, as well as the source of a supernatural entity that is killing any humans it comes into contact with. The second half examines Tim Drake's life after he has left his vigilante career behind. Batman has a new, female, Robin on the scene, but can she cut it?

The art work and general story telling of the majority of these tales are spot on, although I did have to reread the odd page as the illustrations weren't always as clear as they could have been.

There were a couple of amusing things I spotted while reading this collection. Firstly, if one of the paintings in Wayne Manor is to be believed, it would appear that Sadam Hussain is Bruce Wayne's father.

And secondly, if you'll indulge my anal ramblings, why does the mysterious assassin who is stalking possible Robins and ending their lives suddenly stop her work? She gets in touch with her employee and says: "... one of the target's I've already terminated was the former Robin - his death resulting in the need for a replacement... I don't slaughter needlessly." That seems a little odd. Firstly she has no proof (other than Batman has a new Robin) that the old Robin is dead, and if she is that bothered about slaughtering innocents, then why did she not do more thorough research in the first place so that she would have a better idea who Robin was?

I know she has a short list, but surely (baring in mind that she thinks her target is still active as Robin) it would have been simpler to have watched each target for a couple of nights... and if he put on a pair of tight shorts, green tights and jumped from building to building she could be reasonably sure she had her man.

But enough of my Johnny Fanboy style nit-picks, this is a great collection which should certainly find its way into all serious Batman fans collections.

Nick Smithson

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