It’s part 4 of 6 for the Batman: Black and White mini-series and this time the talent includes such names as Dustin Nguyen, Kenneth Rocafort, and Michael Allred, and many more. What short stories are in store for you with the latest from this Eisner Award-winning anthology series and does it maintain those Eisner Award-winning standards that reviewers like me can’t help but mention time and time again?
I like how Amanda Conner utilized the stark white of the page for issue #4’s cover, but at first glance this image does sort of look like Batman just K.O’d the woman who now lies at his feet.
There are no ads to be found in this book and for $5 bucks there definitely shouldn’t be. Instead, the only breaks we have between stories are these really well-done biographies on the writers and artists who made these stories possible and the book even opens up with a dedication to Archie Goodwin.
Ghost of Gotham
Nathan Edmondson’s story about Batman’s hunt for an invisible man starts out strong with a couple of pages worth of hardboiled narration and The Dark Knight doing some real detective work, but in the end this piece did not work well as a short story at all. It felt like there was a larger idea behind this, something that was meant to take up an entire issue or a number of issues but in this format it left me feeling unfulfilled. Rocafort’s artwork, however, is fantastic. I was curious about how his pencils would look without the bright colors that often accompany them and it turns out that he can deliver a very gritty Batman and a spot-on noir atmosphere.
After reading Michael Allred’s Batman contribution to the amazing book SOLO, I was definitely anticipating his short story the most. Collaborating with brother, Lee Allred, Michael crafts a great caper that shows Penguin making a patsy out of the Mad Hatter. While I love to see Allred’s work accompanied by bright colors that give it that 50’s-60’s pop art feel, the black and white looked amazing. This was a smart and funny Batman short that I highly recommend.
Dustin Nguyen can do no wrong today. This, along with Batman: Li’l Gotham #9, makes for the best performance of the day. A double-threat, Nguyen writes and illustrates this story about an average, albeit long evening for The Dark Knight. Nothing remotely spectacular happens, in fact most of the obstacles he is confronted by are cliche. But the thing that makes this all work is that Batman acknowledges it. A bank heist? That’s just part of the routine. A mad bomber? He approaches the danger with complete disinterest, knowing exactly what wires to cut and when. My favorite moment was when Batman’s inner monologue predicts every line in a bank robber’s speech verbatim. Really great stuff, this.
Even in the Darkest Moments
David Macho and Ruben Pellejero’s story about a homeless veteran climbing out of the gutter to help Batman in a scrap with Killer Croc tries a little too hard to pull at your heartstrings, but it’s got a nice, positive message behind it and artwork that reminds me of Batman: Broken City. This was an alright addition to the collection.
Missing in Action
Sean Galloway and Derek Laufman’s “Missing in Action” reminded me of Chip Kidd’s short story from issue #1 of this mini-series only this time instead of Dick Grayson teaming up with Superman to find Batman, it’s up to the Dynamic Duo to track down a missing Man of Steel. Both works have a lighthearted, golden/silver age tone, but Galloway’s illustrations look more like screenshots from an animated film than panels in a comic book. It’s really quite something! However, the pacing of “Missing in Action” was far more hurried and felt like it should have been a longer issue whereas Kidd’s was a short story through-and-through.
- You want to see the uncolored work of some of the best artists in the business
- You hate ads. There isn’t a single advertisement in this comic
- You love the variety an anthology series has to offer
- You’re a fan of Batman: Li’l Gotham or Solo: Deluxe Edition
Part 4 is an enjoyable addition to the Black and White catalog. Shorts like Long Day and Tea-Minus Party definitely deserve repeat readings and every page of artwork in this collection is terrific and worth a second glance.