In following DC’s latest trend of relaunching popular titles, they’ve once again started publishing Legends of the Dark Knight. I haven’t had the opportunity to read a ton of the original run, or the previous digital first one, but I do love the idea of an anthology series that gives writers a little more time to explore their stories. It’s a fun format that opens up the title for fantastic stories, new creative teams, and provides enough variety that if you’re not a fan there’s not too long of a wait for something new to start.
The question then is, in this introductory story do things start out exciting? Is it a story so inciting I want to come back for more right away? Or is it something I’d rather wait out?
It’s definitely interesting, in fact the more I think about it, the more I really like this premise. The first issue isn’t perfect, and I have some problems with some inconsistencies and the structure, but it is a strong start. The idea seems focused around investigating a supplier of dangerous gas, instead of just the gas itself. It does touch on that, but I love that we’re also looking at the person who’s selling this to the likes of Penguin and Joker, rather than just what they do with it later.
Darick Robertson is both the writer and artist on this particular tale, and the atmosphere of this issue is just amazing. His art has this very classic feeling to it, and if you’re going to pick up this book you should do it just for the art. It pairs perfectly with the story, which is a mystery following Batman and the GCPD as they investigate a new incredibly deadly gas.
The issue is told in a style where we are essentially putting together the pieces after everything has happened. It opens with Jim Gordon next to the batsignal as it’s lit, awaiting a Batman who has gone missing. From there, the narrative is framed through scenes told by GCPD officers detailing Batman’s investigation over the course of the night. Each scene eventually switches from being told by its original narrator to Batman as we dive into his head during the investigation.
This structure is one I’ve seen before, and generally I don’t mind it. In this issue however, there’s some awkwardness with the transitions between the framing device of an officer narrating Batman’s story, and Batman taking over. Mainly because sometimes there is no real transition. An example of this is in the panels above, the officer is explaining and then suddenly Batman takes over. Visually we can see the change because the narrative boxes have switched to Batman’s but it’s a bit jarring in some moments.
There’s also a few other inconsistencies in the story that bug me. The first is how it feels a bit like Batman keeps getting sidetracked by his regular rogues instead of pushing past to keep investigating. He loses the trail of the supplier the first time because he stops a scuffle between Penguin and Freeze. But the way the story reads has the supplier running off even before Batman jumps in. On one level I do get Batman having to stop these fights, and him following the supplier’s trail from one rogue to another, but on another I feel like the distraction almost undermines the idea of how dangerous this gas is. The story tells us he hasn’t slept in three days, and that this gas is incredibly dangerous, but at the same time, it feels like there is no urgency to his investigation.
Second, I’m bothered by the rules behind the gas itself. The story makes a big deal of showing just how dangerous this gas is, especially in a scene where Robertson creates a series of vivid panels showing a thug dying by the gas. It’s an incredibly effective visual in getting across the idea of how terrible this new weapon is. Which is great, that makes this a real threat in the wrong hands! Except, the next time we see it used, Batman has enough time to swoop in and save some officers, give them oxygen, and hand off the antidote for them to self administer. That is way more than a few seconds, and undermines the danger of this gas and any urgency we might feel towards Batman or other individuals plights later on.
Still, despite my problems with structure and some questions of continuity I really enjoyed this issue. Especially how it portrays Batman himself. Take the scene I just talked about, with the rescue of the GCPD officers. Yes I picked at the rules of the gas, but I love how it also illustrates how even in the thick of an investigation, Batman will stop to do what is most important: save the innocent. In this case, that’s the officers caught in this trap, who would have otherwise died without his intervention.
Plus, I really enjoy how Batman isn’t perfect or just totally unstoppable here. He’s on day three of no sleep, and that actually impacts the story. There’s a moment where he’s chasing down Joker –who has some of the deadly gas on hand– and Batman’s internal dialogue is all about how tired he is. He’s slow, his legs are tired, and when he’s holding onto a helicopter it’s not an easy task. He’s Batman, but he’s also a human who is exhausted after a long investigation, which is something I always love to see.
Before I finish out the review, I want to circle back around to the art again. Robertson’s style fits the dark, detective nature of the story really well, and is only made better by Diego Rodriguez’s colors. They really make these dark scenes shine. There’s this amazing shot in the first half of the book where Batman is considering the various villains who often use gaseous weapons, and while I’m sure this shot would have looked great in black and white, Rodriguez’s colors are just gorgeous. Each Rouge has a distinct color for the gas they use, and feel very distinct from the others.
The issue wraps up on a cliffhanger that harkens back to the ideas it opened up with. It leaves me asking if this is where Batman goes missing, or will that be later on down the line? Either way, I’ve found myself interested enough from the issue as a whole –this investigation into a new supplier causing chaos all around Gotham– that I am eager to get my hands on the next issue.
- Batman investigating mysteries is something you want more of
- The art is just gorgeous
- You want to see Batman work his way through various Rogues
This is a solid first issue in both this revamping of Legends of the Dark Knight and in Robertson’s tale. Batman dives into a new mystery, featuring not only a revolving series of rogues, but a new deadly weapon as well. While I think the story has a few places where it struggles a little, overall I’m pleased with the direction. I also love the way Batman himself is represented here, as a detective and human. In general, I can’t wait to see more and if you’re looking for something that has more of a classic flavor to it, this is something I recommend picking up.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.