I confess that I—like, perhaps, many of you—assumed that Batman: Reptilian, was going to be about Killer Croc. Maybe it still will be, but I’m not so sure anymore. Nevertheless, it’s still an interesting mystery, and issue #2 builds on the suspense—the dread—of the first. So how does it look up close?
Liam (not so) Sharp
Right up front—“Liam (not so) Sharp” is not a poke at the artist’s intelligence or his general artistic merit. I like his work a lot—when he’s not painting over his lines. On Wonder Woman, with Laura Martin, I thought Sharp was an absolute rockstar. Felt the same when about The Green Lantern’s first “season.” But when Sharp paints his comic book interiors, I’m just not a fan. The aesthetic is fine, and works well when the goal is atmosphere. But then we get to smaller panels—moments where it seems like fidelity might be a good thing—it looks like a mess to me. If I’m wondering what’s happening in a particular panel, and that isn’t the artist’s intent, then I think it’s a miss. And, unfortunately, there’s more than a little bit of that here.
Party on, Garth
That said, when it’s for atmosphere, it’s hard to think of a better choice than what Sharp is going for here. Whenever Batman draws near to another mutilated rogue, the sense of dread is immense. There, the confusion is deliberate—there, it works. There, it’s working in concert with the web Ennis is spinning, and I love it.
As for that web, it isn’t especially unique. Batman is on the trail of some as-yet-unidentified evil, and he’s going from point to point, person to person, trying to find his way to his quarry. But what it lacks in novelty, it more than makes up for in craft. But for a moment or two, the pacing is excellent, and it feels almost unbearable waiting for the next issue, because I want to know what’s going to happen—and who it’s going to happen to. I mean, I hope one of those parties is Croc, but I’ll take whatever they feed me here, because the story is engaging enough to circumvent my preconceived notions without too much mental anguish.
- You dig very atmospheric artwork, even at the occasional expense of clarity
- You like a good, old-fashioned, Batman-on-the-case story
- You like Croc, or you like seeing him get beat on—something Croc-related has to be coming
Batman: Reptilian #2 is at its worst moments a frustratingly confusing visual story. But on its finer beats, it is a spooky, atmospheric detective story with new dread around every page turn. I want more clarity from Sharp at times, but I wouldn’t trade him for another artist, because when he and Ennis are clicking, this story is one of the most engaging Batman tales I’ve read in a long time.