The beauty of serial storytelling is how any new writer can breath new life into characters that have been around forever. Tom King is the latest writer to make Batman new again via thought-provoking narratives and interesting psychological drama. In the latest issue Batman, and the audience are thrown for a loop as we try to understand what the hell is going on.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
The Eisner-winning creative team behind MISTER MIRACLE is back together as artist Mitch Gerads rejoins the Bat team for a special issue! Professor Pyg is loose in Gotham, and you know that means things are going to get weird…and bloody!
Why does this matter?
Mitch Gerads joins Tom King on Batman after their excellent runs on Sheriff of Babylon and Mister Miracle. It’s an epic collaboration that’s must-read on sight.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Tom King utilizes repetition very well. Batman opens the issue upside down and disorientated. Via captions, we hear his inner thoughts and his confusion. King repeats certain reflections every few panels creating a loop of confusion and inner thought. This further puts you in his mindset and helps draw you into his predicament. Professor Pyg is the culprit which further creates a sense of chaos and unease. King does a great job making you as uncomfortable as Batman so that when the story does turn to some reflection and understanding it’s more profound.
Gerads draws a great issue that is a bit off from his usual work. The use of color is particularly wild with streaks of blood lining the walls and pools of blood (and the odd reflections in those pools) drawing your eye. There’s an acid trip of visuals going on that further disorientates the reader. It’s worth noting the entire issue takes place in one tiled room but you won’t notice it until you’re able to reflect on the issue later. That’s Gerads utilizing the camera very well to keep your interest on the characters and telling a visual story. It’s an example of how a story is told between the panels to connect them and make the story flow.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
This issue is probably too obtuse for its own good. I read it twice expecting some kind of explanation for the events but I couldn’t find it. The very last few panels reveal…something, but it’s not conclusive and it doesn’t make a lot of sense. There’s some connection made to the last issue’s cliffhanger, but again, not enough is given to make sense of things. One could harbor some guesses, maybe Batman is stressed and losing it, maybe he’s being tested, or maybe he’s coping. No matter what though it’s frustrating when you read the last page.
Is it good?
I liked this issue for what it’s doing creatively. The ending, and payoff, however, is so limited you’re going to feel a bit cheapened. It’s well crafted visually and the idea permeating the issue is great. You’ll want more, so if it’s about selling comics I suppose it did its job.