Well. It’s here. The final issue in the best mini I’ve read in a long time.
The final issue.
It’s over. Unless…
I’m just simply not going to read it. If I don’t read it, the story never ends, and then they just have to keep making more issues to pad the gap between the fourth and final issues, and then I keep getting more Man-Bat, more MONSTER BUBBLES. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO NOW, DC? I AM YOUR GOD, AND THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO TO–
I have just been informed by the Batman News team that that is not how comics work. That is also, I’m being told, not how most things work. Please excuse me while I call my lawyer.
Bits aside, this book has been a ride. From start to finish, it kept finding new ways to entertain, surprise, and astonish me, and I’m going to be sad to see it leave. So, without prolonging the inevitable, let’s dive right in.
End of the line…
…in all senses of the phrase. Dave Wielgosz has been building to this conclusion for four issues now, and, while I may not be 100% satisfied with how the dominoes fall, boy is it satisfying to watch Kirk Langstrom knock ’em down. Just about everything that has come up in this mini so far gets addressed by the end of this issue: Kirk’s split personality, his desire to be a hero, his relationship with Francine, Batman’s warning to Kirk in the first issue, everything. And it is badass.
You’d think culminating four issues worth of plot threads and monster angst alongside a city-breaking fight between Batman, Man-Bat, AND Scarecrow ON TOP OF teasing Man-Bat’s appearance in Justice League Dark: The Last Age of Magic would make this book a bloated, rushed mess, but, remarkably, Wielgosz manages to wrap everything up in a nice little package, made just for me.
I love comics.
I struggled to choose an image for this section. Not because there wasn’t a panel or a page that filled me with the recognition that I do, in fact, love comics, but rather because there were SO MANY GOOD PANELS. The only image that I think really illustrated how amazing this mini has been was its opening splash. Everything I love about this book is present here. Sumit Kumar and Romulo Fajardo perfectly capture the massive, terrifying beast that is King Man-Bat, his fur a mass of mangy, wild hairs, veins bulging, clothes torn to shreds. Batman’s costume stands out, too, with the fabric crinkled and torn, and his cape whipping in the wind. It’s all a feast for the eyes, and this quality does not drop for the remainder of the issue. Even Scarecrow looks great, his place in the background not preventing him from looking scary and relatively detailed. An absolutely beautiful panel.
Speaking of Scarecrow, I want to touch on his dialogue throughout the issue. He spends a lot of the book monologuing, narrating the action, and psychoanalyzing the characters, and it’s such a charming thing to see from Crane.
“Cute” isn’t a word I thought I’d ever use to describe Scarecrow, but c’mon, he’s giving himself a little pep talk! That’s adorable!!
Scarecrow’s persona is never negatively affected by these little character moments, either, he remains genuinely terrifying, in large part thanks to the amazing art, and even manages to remain a threat somehow, which is no small feat when a Venomized Man-Bat AND a subliminaled Batman are wreaking havoc on Gotham.
Speaking of the main battle, Wielgosz manages to keep an almost perfect balance between the slugfest and Kirk’s internal dialogue with Man-Bat. Both scenarios progress at about the same pace, and it never feels like either gets more attention than the other. They compel the reader in equal amounts, but I have to say, the internal stuff definitely wins out in the art department.
See, that little shot of Venom that Kirk was hoping would stabilize him last issue is in fact tearing both him and Man-Bat apart, and watching these two come to terms with their eventual death together is one of the most beautiful sequences in comics. I won’t spoil how it ends here, for obvious reasons, but I will say it’s both unexpected and heartwarming. Bravo, Wielgosz. Truly.
- You’ve been following this mini since #1.
- Seeing Man-Bat get a satisfying ending will make your soul as happy as it did mine.
- You love comics that aren’t afraid to embrace the over the top nature of the medium, with good art, writing, and characters.
- Most importantly, you just love a good book.
I’m legitimately sad to see this book go. It’s the first review I ever wrote for this site, or ever for that matter, and it’s been consistently great. It’s a touching story about a man coming to terms with his self identity, and it still has time for kickass fights and goofy comic book nonsense. What more could you want? So, for the last time, I want to say BUY THIS BOOK. Show editorial we want more of this kind of thing. I want books like this flooding the shelves and, more importantly, draining my wallet. I will most definitely be picking this up when it comes to trade. Thanks for sticking with me, gang. I look forward to reviewing more of this kind of thing in the future.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.