Not Good to be the Kingdom
Batwing delves back into its lead character's history, doing an excellent job of fleshing out David Zavimbe and distinguishing him in important ways from Batman.
The ongoing plot of Massacre hunting down the retired members of the Kingdom slows down to allow for a flashback that shows how David and his brother Isaac ended their lives as child soldiers. David's past as a child soldier comes as no surprise, but this is a case of predictability not really hurting the story. It is a strong idea that really makes use of Africa as the character's home. It also prevents David Zavimbe from being an African Bruce Wayne. David is a very different kind of orphan and is driven by an entirely different sort of tragedy from his childhood. His tragedies are ones he created with his own hands. His drive comes from a place of intense guilt and a need for redemption. It has the broad strokes of a solid Batman but enough differences in the details to make an excellent Batwing.
But in a case of predictability possibly hurting the story, it has been clear for a couple issues now who Massacre probably is. While this issue doesn't state that, it does heavily point in that direction. If Massacre does turn out to be who he appears to be, I think I will be a little disappointed, but that is not to say it is a bad idea. I have little doubt that Judd Winick will be able to pull it off given what he has done so far. I will just be disappointed that it seemed rather obvious from the beginning.
While it also would have been great to see the origin of Batwing and how David came to be recruited into Batman, Incorporated, how he stopped being one of the deadliest child soldiers around is a more needed and substantial story. It also leaves the door open to having a full issue to explore how he became Batwing as some later date.
Ben Oliver is temporarily replaced by ChrisCross on the art chores this issue, and I was concerned with this when it was first solicited. However, ChrisCross does not do a bad job of filling in here. I think a lot of credit goes to Brian Reber's coloring for keeping the book looking consistent, but ChrisCross pulls his own weight as well. I still prefer Oliver's art, though.
Batwing continues to not only be one of the best Bat-titles but one of the best titles of the New 52. It is one of the few titles that can legitimately claim to give us something new and relevant, which it does very well.