One of the great things about Batman: Black and White is that it gives writers and artists a chance to do something really daring and experimental. With each tale taking place outside of any continuity, creators can tap into any era of the mythology or completely turn the tropes of the average Batman comic on their head. However, the 5th chapter we see here is probably the least imaginative installment yet. The quality of these assorted stories is still quite good and it’s well worth reading, but it doesn’t feature anything that will stick in your mind long after you put it down. It’s par for the course for what we usually see from the Legends of the Dark Knight series, but doesn’t feel like the creme dela creme Batman stories the Black and White name is hyped up to be.
The covers for this series have been pretty spectacular. I really liked this one by Joshua Middleton and thought it was a great use of shadows.
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.
I really enjoyed this one and it might be my favorite of this issue. An injured Batman has to break into the batcave when the very security system he designed turns against him. It’s a fun idea with a surprising conclusion. Ivan Brandon did a fine job with Batman’s internal monologue and really delivered the obviously mortal Batman I love (see Batman: Year 100). Paolo Rivera’s artwork was equally exceptional and I was actually looking forward to his pages the most since I’m a big fan of his work on Daredevil. Rivera’s Batman has a really unique design that features holsters branching off from the cape to supply Batman with even more equipment besides what’s in the utility belt. I like it.
Cat and Mouse
This one was a chore to read. I liked the creative way that artist Javier Pulido incorporated the credits into the details of the Gotham tavern seen on the opening page and I thought that the final page was quite clever, but everything in-between was a slog. This wordy short has a guy spinning a yarn about his own personal run-in with the Batman as he shares a drink with other barflies. The over use of conjunctions, ‘n’, a’, t’, th’, and other abbreviations to illustrate the main character’s way of speaking was especially taxing and the story he was telling was none too interesting. It was a pleasure to see Pulido draw something Batman related again, but I wish that Keith Giffen had written something more captivating and inventive.
“I Killed The Bat!”
A short one, but a good one, “I Killed The Bat!” is the other story in this collection that keeps me from committing to calling “Hell Night” my favorite. Blair Butler’s tale about a comic artist who murders her husband pulls off quite a few impressive twists and turns for so few pages and I liked how it began with a very Silver Age look that quickly turned darker and darker. Chris Weston’s artwork was absolutely phenomenal with an unmatched level of detail that makes the Silver Age portions look extra clean and the horrifying finale appear as disturbing and grotesque as possible.
I had hoped for something more impressive from the likes of Len Wein, but “Flipside” is far and away the most forgettable story in the collection. Wein focuses his story on the incarnation of Two-Face that’s obsessed with the number two, i.e. robbing a 2nd National Bank at 2 o’clock on a Tuesday, etc. etc. It’s all rather typical and quite dull. The artwork by Victor Ibanez saves it though. I liked his clean lines and use of screentone shading. Oddly enough, the one thing about this story that has a chance of sticking with me is the way Batman is shown sitting at the end of it. You’ll know what I’m talking about when you see it! I don’t think any other artist will draw a more relaxed and casual Batman in 2014.
Jimmy Palmiotti and Andrew Robinson’s “Hope” reads great, looks great, and has a whole lot of heart, but it definitely feels like something we’ve seen before. Think of the BTAS episode “Old Wounds.”
- You want to see the uncolored work of some of the best artists in the business
- You hate ads. There isn’t a single ad in this comic.
- You love the variety an anthology series has to offer
It’s not as groundbreaking as you’d expect an issue of Batman: Black and White to be, but issue #5 is still a solid read with some really nice short stories and top-notch artwork.