Review – Batman #38 (DC Comics)

Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Tom King
Art: Travis Moore
Colours: Giulia Brusco
Inks: Travis Moore
Release Date: 3rd January 2018

Tom King is proving to be something of a horror master with his Batman run, showing a darkness and bleakness in Gotham that we frequently only get a peek at, and this latest installment provides a truly interesting take on Bruce’s origin.

The story starts off as a standard, if eerily familiar tale of a boy who has to deal with the sudden and traumatic death of both of his parents. The young boy, Matthew is left in the care of his butler Taylor whilst the Dark Knight attempts to comfort him as Bruce whilst investigating the murder as Batman.

From the beginning it looks like Zsasz is to blame, then the focus appears to shift to another villain before we finally find out the awful truth. The ending sequence is as chilling a conclusion as King has written to date and is all but guaranteed to be long remembered as a modern classic.

Travis Moore is on pencils this issue, and gives us a deliciously dark and sinister book with Giulia Brusco bringing the shadows and muted colours to help support the theme. Visually the entire story feels like a beautiful nightmare, and the depth of the blacks really helps the colours to pop in a truly outstanding way. The final sequence, the last panel of which shows the face of the killer, is truly creepy and will haunt this particular reader for some time to come.

It is perhaps unsurprising that this series is a joy to read given who is writing it, but it’s nonetheless an absolute delight to have this level of consistency augmented by a truly talented art team. Batman does not always have to be dark but when it is I am always happy to see some real justification for it. This is the Batman comic you don’t let your kids read, it’s the story that features no super powered or magical enemies and feels all the more disturbing for its grounded approach.

This issue is an ideal starting point for new readers and for fans of the series alike, it is a one-shot that perfectly represents the style of story King likes to tell and has no real baggage or interconnecting stories required for it to make sense.

Batman remains a smart choice for anyone looking to strike a balance between the Dark Knight of the old DCU and the more modern stuff. The book continues to justify Batman’s very existence while showing us his struggle and allowing us to really see what makes him the most suitable hero for Gotham City. The series always comes with a high recommendation but this tale in particular is one of the best reasons to be reading the series to date.

Rating: 5/5.

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The writer of this piece was: Dave MacPhail
Dave Tweets from @ShinKagato

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