Batman Black & White returns again this month for another volley of short stories portraying The Dark Knight in any number of ways from a series of different writers and artists from all parts of the comic book world. As we did last month, each story will get its own little blurb with an overall ranking at the very end to sum it all up.
So without further ado let’s begin.
Manbat Out of Hell:
Written By: Dan DiDio
Illustrated By: J.G. Jones
It’s always appreciated when people get what’s likely the worst story of the bunch out of the way at the start.
Now, when I say the worst I mean from a writing standpoint, because the art from J.G. Jones is absolutely gorgeous, from the first panel to the last, the landscapes to the character designs, it’s all pretty great to behold and just stare at for quite some time.
However where this story fails, is as I said, the story. It begins as a typical battle between Batman and Manbat, but very quickly it takes an incredibly dark turn, with a lot of dark subject material that in the end doesn’t really say anything and just makes the reader really uncomfortable with everything that’s just gone down but still tries to have some kind of a happy ending. It’s going for shock and awe, but unfortunately lacks the awe.
Into The Circle
Written and Illustrated by Rafael Grampa
Into The Circle is very…odd, well, mostly the art style from up and comer Rafael Grampa is quite odd. Rafael brings in the style that most of us are used to seeing in a Vertigo book rather than anything mainstream with The Dark Knight, and the end result is fairly interesting. It would definitely be a cool opportunity to give Rafael a Batman arc to fully illustrate to see what kind of work he could do with the entire Batman mythos.
The story keeps it fairly simple, and as with a number of the Black & White stories, saying too much can easily lead to spoilers, I’ll finish off by saying that there’s a great moment near the end where one particular member of the Bat Family shines brilliantly. Into The Circle was both incredibly odd but cool.
A Place In Between
Written and Illustrated by Rafael Albuquerque
A Place In Between is another odd story in this weeks issue.
A seemingly dead Batman is guided by Deadman in what the Dead man refers to as a sort of Limbo where The Dark Knight has to relive and look over his past mistakes.
This is a pretty good story, Deadman guiding Batman on a boat through whatever this plane of existence is has a very Virgil guiding Dante through hell kind of feel, which honestly I never saw working so well. It has a great emotional build up and hits a great crescendo before finishing off with a bang.
The art is also a fairly strong point of the story, Rafael’s style works quite well with the story that’s being told and seals the deal in making this a strong story this week.
Written by Jeff Lemire
Illustrated by Alex Nino
I don’t think I’ll bury the lead here.
Winter’s End is the best story this week, and the more I look back at it, it might find its way into my top twenty Batman stories.
Now, that’s not to say this story doesn’t have its problems. The artwork can be a bit weak at times, if not a bit hard to figure out what’s going on. It feels like Alex Nino either didn’t have enough time to finish his work or something else happened along the way, because this isn’t Alex Nino at his best.
I wouldn’t call the art awful, but I feel like there could of been a bit more opportunity for polishing.
What really stands out with this story is the inner monologue, in an age where narration and inner monologue is about as misused as pouches were back in the 90s it’s truly refreshing to see a story where the crux of what’s being told is in the narration. The stuff going on in the comic is interesting enough to keep things going, Fries tech, blah blah, frozen city, blah blah. But as I said, the real meaty story is within Batman’s inner monologue of this story, that is just so enjoyable I’m not going to say one word that he thinks about. This story is almost worth the price of admission alone.
Silent Knight…Unholy Knight!
Written by Michael Uslan
Illustrated by Dave Bullock
Every week there seems to be at least one story that is just a lot of fun, last week it was, “Don’t Know Where, Don’t Know When” by Chip Kidd and Michael Cho, this week it’s Silent Knight…Unholy Knight!
While the villain of this story is somewhat dark and it can get a little violent, the style in which this story is told just oozes fun and enjoyment.
For those of you who don’t know, SKUK is told in a silent film format, taking the whole “Black & White” theme a little further. And it is pretty fantastic, seeing the Batmobile of old, and the classic Batsuit were great touches, and Dave Bullock does an amazing job illustrating this one.
Along with being one of the strong stories this month in Batman Black & White #2, part of SKUK was also turned into a silent film by DC Comics and it’s pretty enjoyable watching the whole thing go with the old timey music. The clip can be found on YouTube by searching “Silent Knight Unholy Knight.”
Despite some rather lacklust stories this month, this issue pulls together exceedingly well at the end with “Winter’s End” and “A Place In Between”, I would definitely say this issue is worth picking up for those two stories alone.
Now let’s hope Batman Black & White can continue its momentum into next month.