Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Tom King
Art: Davide Gianfelice, Clay Mann
Colours: Gabe Eltaeb
Inks: Davide Gianfelice
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Release Date: 19th July 2017
If you’ve been following Batman in any media form you will already know that civilians who act as informants or share information with the Dark Knight don’t tend to have happy endings. And, in this latest issue, we follow a low-level criminal as he is caught up in the ongoing situation between Batman, The Joker and The Riddler.
Tom King writes us a story that would work just as well as a stand-alone tale but adds a level of tragedy to an otherwise Z-list supervillain. We get to see just how unfair it can be when Batman comes knocking and demanding information, as well as the collateral damage that can come even when trying to do the right thing. There’s even some clever commentary in the latter stages of the issue in the form of a talk show with two unseen guests discussing Batman and his effect on the city which plays in the background as our protagonist’s mental unravelling reaches its climax.
David Gianfelice and Clay Mann share artistic duties this issue and work so well together it is difficult to see when one ends and the other begins. The best sequences in the story are the interrogation scenes, of which there are plenty. Watching our protagonist’s terrified expression regardless of the culprit really hammers the point home. To a criminal, Batman is just as terrifying as any of his rogue’s gallery. We do get one double-page spread of pure action, which is every bit as explosive as you would imagine given the current state of affairs in Gotham.
Gabe Eltaeb is on colours this issue and we see a thematically accurate palette in use throughout the issue. This book is pretty dark, the crimes are personal and this is reflected in the scheme used, favouring an almost bleak and oppressive atmosphere. In contrast, the sequences featuring the protagonist’s son are bright and colourful which gives them an almost dream like quality, a vision of perhaps an idealised version of his memories.
I have deliberately omitted the name of the villain featured for two reasons. The first reason is that he has historically been a bit of a joke and I don’t want people to dismiss this issue out of hand. And the second reason is that, well, it almost doesn’t matter. A fairly well-known villain, a bad one, is the main character but it could almost have been anyone, criminal or civilian, and the tale would have gone more or less the same way. This story reflects a side we don’t see very often where justice isn’t always served and sometimes the bad guys get away with doing evil things. It is difficult not to feel a little empathy for him as he does his best for his son even though, in the end, it doesn’t even make a difference.
This is a strong contender for my favourite DC book this year and definitely gave me pause after I read the final panel. To be clear, this book isn’t really about the final page but how we arrive at that point. King has proven time and again that he can write a fantastic Batman book, but even I wasn’t expecting this.
[Click to Enlarge]
The writer of this piece was: Dave MacPhail
Dave Tweets from @ShinKagato