Every Batman fan should add this series to their pull list.

Seriously, there’s no reason for you to not pick this up. It’s a different creative team and an all new story (or stories) every month, all of which take place outside of the New 52 continuity so anything can happen! It keeps things fresh with a variety of talented people that have a unique vision for the Batman mythology. No two issues are alike, so even if you don’t care for one comic you’ll still stand a great chance of liking what comes in the next installment. It’s a beautiful thing. And I really appreciate self-contained “done-in-one” comics. I don’t see that much anymore and that’s a shame. Of course we need those epic arcs that span 6-12 issues, but with 9+ Bat-titles floating around the market it’s wonderful to have something that’s accessible to new readers no matter which issue they pick up.

I really loved issue #1 of this series and gave it a 10/10 because it gave readers so much bang for their buck with 3 very distinct depictions of Batman by three different creative teams. All of them were enjoyable in their own way, I thought. Issue #2 however is a single story directed by one team so it’s not exactly the variety pack that issue #1 was, but it is a complete story with a beginning, middle, and end and most importantly, it’s highly entertaining. B. Clay Moore wrote a story that feels like it could’ve been an episode of Batman: The Animated Series, albeit a very bloody one. That’s not to mean that this is a dark and gory story, though. Far from it. It’s actually a very funny comic with one of the best final lines I’ve seen in a Bat-comic in recent memory.

The first page hooked me instantly. We see a portly Batman delivering corny lines as he shouts down into the Gotham sewer after Killer Croc. And just when you think that B. Clay Moore is delivering a poorly written Batman– chomp! Turns out that wasn’t the real Batman at all. Gotham’s elite have been hitting the streets in “Batman costumes that look like they were put together by Hellen Keller after a bender” (there a lot of funny lines like that) and they’ve been getting themselves killed. The rising death toll has attracted the attention of Batman and from then on we see our hero, and the much underused Harvey Bullock, uncover a mystery that leads to the Joker (as seen on the phenomenal cover) and a few other surprise villains. My only complaint with the story is that the ending does feel slightly hurried in the end, but I was having so much fun with it that it can be easily overlooked. Also, something else I must put in spoilers:

Spoiler
The reluctant assistant in all of this, the Mad Hatter doesn’t use hats or gizmos of any kind, it was just him using typical hypnotism tricks. That didn’t feel quite right to. And Bruce being able to withstand those advances simply because he’s Batman felt a bit weak as well and I would’ve rather seen him go into this situation with more of a plan in place, but like I said it’s a very thrilling and funny climax and you’ll very easily overlook  these things.

It’s immensely entertaining and beautifully illustrated by Ben Templesmith who uses real water colors here to bring you a Batman comic that looks totally different from any other book hitting the shelves this month. It’s cartoony, gory, dirty, and highly detailed. Gotham looks filthy, Joker looks disturbing, the dunces in the makeshift Batman outfits look hilarious, the lighting is gloomy, and the Tim Sales-ish Batman looks great too. It may not be a style that everyone can appreciate, but I thought it was gorgeous and it makes the book stand out from the crowd.

I had a great time reading this book and since it’s a self contained story, any Batman fan can buy it and have a great time without needing to be filled in on prior continuity or feel obligated to buy a long series of follow up issues to see how things come to a close. It’s just one terrific, short story and a book that casual and hardcore comic book readers can enjoy. If they have more stories like “Crisis in Identity” up their sleeve, I’d love to see more Batman stories from B. Clay Moore and Ben Templesmith.

SCORE: 9.5/10