The DC Giant Walmart exclusive books continue to impress — the last Tom King and Adam Kubert Superman Giant blew me away. This week, Brian Michael Bendis and Nick Derington deliver a Batman story. Not just any Batman story, mind you, but Bendis’ first — and quite honestly one of the best looking Batman books I’ve ever read.
So what’s it about?
The first installment in a new story arc by Bendis and Derington focuses on Batman taking on the Riddler. But there’s more going on than just riddles.
Why does this matter?
Bendis told me a little while ago about how nervous he was writing Batman, which shows you how seriously he’s taking this. This is also the start of a Riddler story that is a mystery of sorts, but when is Riddler ever a straight shooter? Note that this is a review of the Bendis/Derington story only.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This is quite a creative team with Bendis, Derington, the great Dave Stewart on colors, and Josh Reed on letters. A lot of thought clearly went into writing this story, which you can see with the creative layout designs and interesting take on the character right out of the bat. Opening with Batman in the Batmobile, we get a first-person perspective as Batman is attempting to cool Alfred’s jets, who is attempting to keep Bruce’s dinner party from falling apart. The book continues there with Batman scaling a building and then smashing you in the face with an impressive full-page splash that’s an impressive perspective looking up at Batman who falls down.
As the story progresses we learn The Riddler’s plan is more complicated than the usual caper. There’s plenty of fighting, a great 9-panel grid outlining various perspectives on what happened, and a scene with Commissioner Gordon that is a slightly different take on the character. Bendis is very good at instilling his style on these characters and you’ll notice from the very first panel.
The creative team is doing exceptional work that I’m sure will draw in readers new and old. The work Derington does on the mask gives it texture, yet it somehow stays smooth. And who doesn’t like a good amount of stubble on our favorite caped crusader? The action is intense and exciting with henchmen being beaten so badly their legs are flying into the air. Dave Stewart’s colors really pop too, with a great use of yellow to make the action even more splashy.
It can’t be perfect can it?
At only 12 pages, this story doesn’t quite get going by the end. We get a sense of where the detective work will be going, but for the most part, it’s a lot of action. It’s a gripe inherent of the format however and I suspect this will be an excellent series when read in one sitting.
Is it good?
An exceptional first issue in a new story from some of the best creators in comics today. The book is fresh and action-packed in a way that will have fans wondering where this Batman story has been their whole life.