Remember Mio? The sword-smith employee that Bruce fell for in #0, but turned out to be an assassin, aiming for Bruce's sensei? Yeah, well, she didn't die. Did the whole, slow the heart-rate trick, and then later returned to her shadowy master who offered to train her in some spooky hoodoo assassination stuff. But that was then, and this is now, as there's a Prime Minister in Gotham, with a group of scrub assassins out for blood, too bad for them because BATMAN!
Elsewhere, at the event the Prime Minister is is attending, Harper Row is on the job, monitoring power usage to the spotlights, while also humoring her brother. She's also taken a notice to a mysterious woman in white, who has been hovering the premise for a couple of hours. Despite her gear mysteriously disappearing (see: Batman stole it), Harper decides to trail the woman, once she starts moving into Wayne Tower, after the Prime Minister arrives.
Sure enough, the woman is up to something, as her dress changes, and she sprouts a couple of arms made from shadow, all with various weapons. But before the would-be assassin does her job, she lets Harper know that she's not as stealth as she'd like.
Elsewhere, Bruce, who had come to the conclusion that the group of assassins he fought were meant as a distraction, gets alerted by Alfred about a situation in the tower, and without even hearing her name, Bruce knows it's Harper, and before anything can happen to her, crashes his plane into the floor she's on.
Bruce emerges from the wreck, tells Harper to get to safety, and starts to fight with the the assassin who calls herself Penumbra, but something is familiar to Bruce about her. On the ground level, Harper finds Gordon who asks what's going on, Harper tries to describe everything, but once she comes to the fact that the lady grew shadow arms, she get's an idea. Harper then goes to the nearest spotlight, and moves it so it shines directly on the fight, which dissipates Penumbra's shadows, and she returns to how she had looked before, which is when Bruce recognizes her as Mio.
Despite his shock, Bruce tries to reason with Mio, who is shocked that Batman knows who she is... maybe a little too shocked, as the fact her real name gets brought up, causes her to forget about the ledge she's standing on, and ultimately ends up falling off of, but, no body was ever found.
Before Harper and her brother leave, Bruce catches up with her, and gives her equipment back, saying that she has a way of finding herself in trouble, so she might as well be prepared. As Bruce returns home, Alfred mentions to him how smart Harper is, to which he agrees. Bruce continues to state she's capable, independent, but a little reckless, all features that Damian had, as Alfred points out... and that's what scares Bruce.
Elsewhere, having failed her mission, Mio's master who has a pretty sweet mustache and plenty of other assassins decides to lock her away, despite her pleas.
Then in the back-up, Man-Bat is followed upon, as Francine eventually found him, but is oblivious to the fact that Kirk has grown accustomed to taking his formula at night while she's sleeping. But, recently, some murders have been popping up under the bridge he'd roost in as Man-Bat, but he has no recollection of killing anyone... but he did! OR DID HE?!
John Layman is pretty good at one issue stories, they're well paced, and never feel like he's trying to accomplish too much. I enjoyed the fact that he followed up upon the zero issue, rather than just making a new character, which at least gives us some form of stake to take in the character, since Penumbra had been previously introduced, if Penumbra was new, then more backstory would have had to be told, and it would just be wasted space. That's generally what I enjoy about John Layman's work on this title, is that he's very willing to acknowledge, and expand little bits and pieces from other titles which seemed inconsequential at the time.
Then there's Harper, who... eh, she's just Harper. Little headstrong, makes rookie mistakes, but yeah, she's supposed to be green.
Back-up was also enjoyable, but I'm kind of skeptical how you keep a Man-Bat story interesting.
Jason Fabok took an issue off, and I thought Scot Eaton's art was good, he just has some weird facial expressions from time to time, along with angles of the heads of characters... Facial expressions are pretty big with me.
The Bottom Line:
While not groundbreaking, this was a fun and enjoyable issue, which teased a potential villain that could be really fun under Layman's pen. I was originally going to say some more stuff about Harper Row here, but I'll make a whole post about that sometime later. So, to conclude... Fun main story, with an enjoyable back up... well worth the four dollars paid.