Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a massive fan of Batman: the Brave and the Bold-style team-up stories, so when I volunteered to pick up the rest of Urban Legends, I knew I was in for a good time. Though I missed out on the Batman/Question team-up that always lead to my favorite stories, there are some great ones in this issue that I can’t wait to talk about!
I will say that I have one pretty major problem with this series so far, and that is the lack of stand-alone stories. The multi-parters never feel like they have enough time per issue, and, as a result, they often feel either overcrowded or too empty. Ironically, the only one so far that has genuinely kept me hooked is “Hounded”, which has only been running for the past 5 issues. One or two multi-parters wouldn’t be so bad, but 3 out of 4 of these stories are episodic installments, and having to buy 6 issues for 1 issue’s worth of story just seems a bit much. I’m sure I’ll scream about this more than enough in issues to come, though, so without further ado, let’s jump right in!
Batman & Zatanna in “Bound to Our Will: Part 5”
Vita Ayala’s fifth installment in Batman’s magical adventure is a great penultimate episode. We finally start getting some answers about Bruce and Zatanna’s complicated history, and the nature of their pact. Overall, I haven’t been the biggest fan of this story, as it’s been a bit too complicated and messy for my taste. Overall, I’d say this story is the one that suffers the most from the problems I mentioned in the opening. There’s a ton of backstory, complicated relationships, and plot threads to follow, and this could have massively benefitted from being its own issue. It feels like a story that someone pitched to be its own book and got rejected, but it’s still an extremely fun romp that’s sure to satisfy fans of both Batman and Zatanna.
The art is really where this story shines. Nikola Čižmešija’s style is incredibly dynamic, and paired with Nick Filardi’s colors, it’s an incredibly exciting visual experience, and really captures the weird magic shenanigans going on. Steve Wands’ lettering skills are also on full display, and boy are they fun. The sound effects alone were enough to elicit the childlike joy that comes from reading a fun comic.
Batman and Plastic Man in “Bending the Rules”
Man, I love this story. Joey Esposito has brought us the perfect blend of serious, philosophical Batman musing and wacky, fun Plastic Man team-up! The story centers on Batman tracking down an old friend of Eel O’Brien’s in order to bring him to justice, having to deal with KGBeast along the way. The biggest obstacle, however, is Plastic Man reminding him that criminals can change. It’s a wonderful story focusing on a side of Batman we don’t see a lot in the public consciousness anymore: the redemptive, kind superhero that believes in people, and reaches out to the people behind his villains.
Jason Howard’s art does nothing but enhance the experience. The line work keeps things dynamic and interesting, and the more muted color palette keeps the story feeling grounded and serious. It’s always nice when the visuals of a story tie directly into the themes and vibe of the writing. Pat Brosseau’s letters were also fantastic. There are tons of fun word balloons and lettering choices that punctuate (heh) the story beats perfectly.
The Birds of Prey in “Memory Lane: Part 2”
Che Grayson’s story this issue tunes us back into the newly formed Birds of Prey as they grapple with the newly captured metahuman that threatens to end the group before it starts. Katana also deals with her reliance on a new app that lets you relive memories, using it to consult her dead husband. This subplot is turning out to be very interesting; I’m always a fan of weird memory stories, so I hope part 3 will be rife with virtual shenanigans.
Serg Acuña’s art is also perfect for this story and, when coupled with personal favorite Ivan Plascencia’s colors, this story is an absolute treat to look at. The action scenes feel really fluid and explosive, and the calmer moments are charged with emotion and gravitas. There’s also some immaculate panel work in this story, just a lot of fun all-around.
Ace the Bat-Hound in “Hounded: Part 5: Bear Witness”
I love this story. Of the multi-parters, this will forever be my favorite one. Is it because it starts Ace the Bat-Hound as he assembles a team of misfit animals to rescue Batman from being auctioned off to the highest evil bidder? Yes. Is it because a major antagonist is Licks Luthor, Lex’s evil dog? Absolutely. But most of all, I love it because it’s fun. My favorite comics are always fun. Mark Russell has crafted one of my favorite short stories in a while with this one, and I think the pacing is a lot better than the other multi-part stories we’ve seen.
The art is absolutely adorable, by the way. Karl Mostert draws Ace and the gang in the best, most cutest, adorable, aaaaaaaaaaaaa, kinda way. I have no other way to describe it. It’s the best. I even cried a little this issue, purely because of the art of these little animals. Impeccable. Trish Mulvihill’s colors add to the art, elevating “Hounded” into a true peak of comic book storytelling. It doesn’t get any better than this. I am definitely not biased towards cute animal stories. Not one bit.
Score: 1000000000000000/10 (it’s actually a 9/10)
- You enjoy short stories and fun Bat team-ups.
- You enjoy only getting a couple pages of said fun Bat team-ups.
- Cute animals.
As fun as some of these stories are, I don’t really know how worth it the individual issues of Batman: Urban Legends are right now. You’re essentially getting a fraction of multiple stories, and maybe a complete one-shot if you’re lucky. It’s a weird choice to make, to recommend this or not, but I think I might just say wait for the trade on this one.
Final Score: 7/10 (if you’re okay with incomplete stories)
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.