Man-Bat #4

It’s the penultimate issue of Man-Bat and, uh, well… it’s beautiful. This story can only be described with one word: kickass. Everything has been building for a long time, and the payoff begins in this book. I literally cannot figure out how to stop gushing about this, so let’s just dive into this.

The Writing

Dave Wielgosz has absolutely knocked it out of the park again. Just when I think he can’t get any better, he turns around and drops Man-Bat #4. This issue is insane. I legitimately can’t think of anything I didn’t like, so let’s get right into the praise.

The story picks up a couple days after issue 3 ends, with Kirk and Francine still under the subliminal subjugation of Scarecrow. Crane has them working day and night to finish his sonic cannon, and it’s because of his influence that we get what might be my favorite part of the book: all of the narration is from Man-Bat’s point of view, and he is NOT happy. Kirk is still under the influence of Crane’s subliminals, but Man-Bat is still conscious and ready to fight. He gains just enough control of Kirk to attack Crane, which prompts the mad scientist to make the sonic messaging more erratic, driving both of the captives more and more insane.

That brings me to the topic of Scarecrow himself This book’s take on Crane is genuinely disturbing. It’s the fist time in a long time I’ve felt that he was a threat, and boy do I love to see it. Take a look at this conversation with two of his henchmen, keep in mind that he knows they’ve been deafened by Man-Bat already.

If that doesn’t make you shudder a little bit, you’re probably a normal person or something and don’t let media affect your emotional state. If you’re like me, though, that’s scary. It’s just the kind of insane villain monologue that Scarecrow specializes in, and I love it.

This issue has a B-plot as well, focused on Batman trying to find Kirk and his wife. It’s your standard Bat-vestigation fare, he intimidates some criminals, beats them up, kicks Scarecrow in the face, you know the drill. The kicker here is… very spoiler-heavy. As such, I’m shoving the second half of that sentence in some spoiler tags. Click at your own risk.

Spoiler
Okay. So to get to the absolute coolest, most kickass part of the story, I have to explain something first. Batman, during the Crane fight, gets affected by Scarecrow’s subliminal waves when he blows up the sonic cannon. This causes him to exhibit the worst parts of himself, kicking the crap out of Man-Bat and screaming some frankly Miller-esque things about “the disease that poisons this city” and whatnot. This prompts Kirk to get desperate, and open that case we saw in the Suicide Squad issue. What is inside is possibly the most badass thing I’ve seen in a comic recently.  This is your last chance to click away, I am about to directly spoil the last page of the book, and the cliffhanger that made my jaw drop. Ready? Okay…

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

 

Don’t you dare tell me that’s not metal as hell. I love this book.

There’s also some VERY good character moments here. My favorite was Man-Bat realizing that he needs to take care of Francine, for Kirk’s sake.

This is such a genuinely sweet moment, and it made me fall even harder in love with this book and Man-Bat himself. He’s really trying to redeem himself, and it feels both earned and deserved.

The Art

What can I say about Sumit Kumar and Romulo Fajardo Jr. that I have not already said? Basically nothing, so I’m going to keep saying those other things. These guys are absolutely on their A-game for this series, and they are NOT slowing down here. Every single panel is an incredible work of art, and bursts from the page in a dynamic display of action and color that kept me turning pages almost faster than I could read them.

This page in particular is extremely impressive. Every single panel is distinct, the characters are dynamically posed and framed, the colors leap off the page and straight into my joy receptors, it’s beautiful.

I’m also a HUGE fan of the way Batman is drawn in this comic. Kumar uses one of the best Bat-tropes ever, showing Bruce as just a large, shapeless silhouette, looming over hapless crooks.

We LOVE a good loom.

I’ve been a big fan of Kumar’s Batman since issue 1, and even though his use of line to emphasize Bruce’s height isn’t as prominent in this issue, he still manages to maintain the large, imposing, tall figure that is Batman. You love to see it.

And of course, it wouldn’t be a certified Cam Lipham Man-Bat Review if I didn’t thank the lettering gods (Tom Napolitano) for all the monster bubbles. So many characters get spooky word bubbles — Man-Bat, Scarecrow, even Batman at one point — that you’d think it was my birthday. I love this book so much.

Recommended if…

  • You like good books, plain and simple.
  • Man-Bat’s road to redemption has enthralled you as much as it did me.
  • Stories about freedom and identity speak to you.

Overall

This is my favorite issue I’ve had to review for Batman News so far. This book has been such a pleasant surprise. I know I’ve said this a lot, but it’s true. Man-Bat is just plain good. This is quickly becoming my favorite comic at DC right now, and I’m heartbroken it’s only going to last 6 issues. Whoever you are, whether you’re a casual fan or a diehard comic lover, please read this book. It’s too good, and deserves to go down as one of the greats. There was literally nothing I could find in this issue that I didn’t like, even getting a little nitpicky with it. And so, it is my absolute pleasure to award Man-Bat #4…

Score: 10/10


Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.