Legends of the Dark Knight #1 review

I’ve been looking forward to this for a while now. I read the first 4 or 5 stories from the digital exclusive series Legends of the Dark Knight months ago. It comes out a little bit at a time–weekly installments. When the stories started to get longer and stretch across three weeks I decided to stop downloading and be patient. Being able to sit down with three short stories or one complete story and enjoy it in print form would make it all worth it and sure enough, my faith in the series was awarded with an announcement that DC would indeed take Legends of the Dark Knight to print in October.

This series will sell for $3.99, which makes it one of the pricier Batman comics but trust me when I say it’s worth it. Issue #1 collects three short stories and I’m not quite sure which one is my favorite. Even better, I didn’t just skim through the book and recall what my feelings were when I first saw it earlier in the summer. No, I read the whole thing again and not because I couldn’t recall what happened, but because I really enjoyed it. Finding a comic that’s worth repeat readings is a rarity. I’m not talking TPBs, I’m talking one single stand alone issue that you’ll want to remove from the bag and board weeks, months, maybe even years from now. This qualifies. Not only does it have one of the best Alfred moments of the year, but it has what I think is the most bad ass Batman moment of the year. The magnitude of the threat that Batman faces is greater than anything you’ve seen in any other book lately and the amazing thing is that the writer sells it. He totally sells it. Just writing about it now makes me want to flip through it again.

The first story is by Damon Lindelof and Jeff Lemire who were easily the most hyped creative team to come into this series and rightly so. Damon Lindelof is famous for his work on LOST and many films and Lemire is the creator of Sweet Tooth (my favorite comic) and he’s currently writing Animal Man, which is also one of the best books of 2012. Since Lemire and colorist Jose Villarubia work on Sweet Tooth together, the story looks exactly like Sweet Tooth–which I love. It’s a great, unique art style and I dig Villarubia’s colors (he colored Batman: Year 100–which I highly recommend). The story is about a young Batman who is getting a bit cocky. He’s bringing down all the freaks and is starting to think he has no weakness. He’s wrong.

The second tale is by Jonathan Larsen and JG Jones and it has a much more classic comics look to it than the scraggily figures you saw from Lemire’s pencil. And that’s another great thing about this series– it’s always fresh. Each book will feature a new creative team, perhaps several new creative teams so you always get a new take on the mythology you love so well. No worries about continuity either! It takes place outside of the New 52 and each individual adventure essentially takes place in a universe all its own. This one started off in a way that turned me off immediately, it begins with Batman in space. I’m one of the “Batman is better when he’s grounded in reality” folk who prefers to not see Batman hanging out with magicians or aliens so I didn’t have a great feeling about where this was going. But that changed rather quickly and I found myself loving it more and more with every panel. If you love stories about Batman proving that a normal (as normal as Bruce Wayne is I guess) man can do incredible things and even surpass the superheroes, then you’re going to be thrilled. Heck, they even managed to squeeze in a reference to Adam West’s Batman and the story still worked! This was very surprising.

The last story isn’t as powerful as the others, but it holds up very well. It’s about a good man who is about to turn to crime for the first time, but Batman’s detective skills are so great that he predicts the crime before it happens and intervenes to adjust the poor man’s moral compass and show him true north. The batmobile, the cave, (possibly) Dick Grayson as Robin, detailed detective work, and a lot of heart– writer Tom Taylor added a lot of great elements that Batman fans will enjoy and penciler Nicola Scott did a fine job as well, especially with his Robin which will definitely stir up some nostalgia.

This was really, really enjoyable. It’s not trying to be some big sweeping epic and none of the stories are aiming to shock. They’re simply three short and sweet Batman stories that all bring something different to the table. I think it’s a really superb read and absolutely worth your $4 bucks.

SCORE: 10/10