This is a dark comic. Back in the day this kind of stuff was my favorite, when dark and gritty and even deconstruction was still new to me. These days, however, I prefer my superhero comics to be more fun and optimistic. That’s not to say that heroes shouldn’t have problems or that darker themes shouldn’t be explored; but currently it seems to me that many creators fall into the trap of writing melodrama instead of a compelling character struggle. So what about The Imposter? Does the creative team’s dark approach get in the way of their storytelling, or does it enhance it? For better or for worse, The Imposter concludes here. Let’s have a look.
At its core, this book is a mystery: Batman needs to find out who the Imposter is, and then find a way to stop this person. It’s been fun coming up with theories as to who it might be while reading the previous two issues, as those merely provided us with some clues here and there. Yet, even with the few clues that we got, it was easy to narrow down the possibilities. Then, as I was reading this issue, it suddenly seemed incredibly obvious to me who’s impersonating Batman. A specific character’s behavior just gives it away. It’s nice that we get to see Bruce and Blair’s thought processes as they both independently try to solve this case, but when it’s finally confirmed who is behind it all, the whole investigation feels almost redundant. Perhaps it was Tomlin’s intention to make this a straight-forward detective case all along, but when a reader figures out the answer before Batman does, I think that something probably didn’t quite go as planned in the writing department…but maybe that’s just me.
Another critique has to do with one specific scene. The cops are interrogating a character, who is under arrest, and this character manages to snatch a revolver from his interrogator’s holster (which the cop wears on his chest). This moment just seems silly to me, because why would a cop walk into an interrogation session with his gun sticking out and not even having his gun strapped inside his holster? This comic is supposed to be more realistic than your average Batman comic, so moments like this stand out to me. Had this been but a minor detail to the story, I probably would have let it slide, but since it impacts one of the characters in a big way, I felt the need to point it out.
More on the topic of realism, or the lack thereof, Bruce can really take a beating. We see him get punched and kicked hard; we see him crash a car; and we see him get shot. He’s bleeding heavily throughout this comic and even passes out in a pile of trash in an alley at a certain point. And yet, a scene later he appears to be fine again. This creates inconsistency and it makes it seem like the beatings that Bruce receives don’t have serious consequences.
However, just because I’m critical of these things doesn’t mean that I’m dismissing the comic entirely. On the contrary, I really dig this story. Whereas the mystery plot is not the comic’s strongest element, the creative team has made me care about these characters. Both Bruce and Blair are fleshed out enough within the context of this story that I understand what motivates them and what their flaws are, and the dynamic between these characters is complex, romantic and bittersweet. When the character work is solid, the dark themes feel natural rather than melodramatic, and it works.
What I appreciate the most about this issue is how silent it is. The writing throughout—whether it’s dialogue or inner monologue in the captions—is very concise and to the point. It’s almost like Tomlin is deliberately taking a step back to let Sorrentino and Bellaire—two of comics’ most brilliant current artists—do the heavy lifting in terms of storytelling. For example, there is a jaw-dropping fight sequence without any dialogue (only captions are sprinkled throughout), and the focus is solely on the movements of the fighters. The sequence flows beautifully and Bellaire’s blues and reds make the action even more aggressive. And, of course, as we’ve seen in previous installments, these characters all look and behave realistically, like good actors in a movie. On top of that, we get some incredible splash pages and amazing backdrops and cityscapes. Even if you dislike the writing, this is a comic worth picking up for the art alone!
- You are a fan of dark storytelling in comics.
- You like elaborate, well-constructed fight scenes.
- You want to know who the Imposter is.
Overall: This is a very good, albeit dark, book. The mystery itself is a bit too obvious for me and the book isn’t consistent when it comes to the creative team’s realistic approach. But the writing is economic, which means that the wonderful artwork can breathe while visually telling this story. All things considered, this is definitely a book that’s worth picking up—recommended!
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.