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Review: BATMAN: BLACK AND WHITE #1 Ends with a Bang

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Batman: Black and White #1 is DC Comics’ celebration of one of their biggest characters. It features stories full of ninjas, bats, and pearls. All the ingredients for a good Batman story. While some of these stories struggle to stand out from DC Comics’ other celebrations of the character, one story in particular shines.

“The Demon’s Fist”

  • Overall: 3.7/5
  • Writing: 3.5/5
  • Art: 4/5
  • Lettering: 3.5/5

James Tynion IV writes “The Demon’s Fist,” with Tradd Moore on art and Clayton Cowles on letters. Tynion’s stories are typically chock full of exposition. Characters in his scripts tell the readers exactly how they feel, with little room for interpretation. But “The Demon’s Fist” is different. Not only does Tynion dodge over-explaining, he completely removes all dialogue. Relying heavily on Moore’s dynamic, intricate art pages, Tynion allows the art to do the talking. It’s a great example of a writer trusting his collaborators. And Moore’s art really is spectacular. Cowles pushes every text box to the corners and edges of the page to give as much room as possible to Moore’s detailed fight scenes.

“Weight”

  • Overall: 3.8/5
  • Writing: 2.5/5
  • Art: 5/5
  • Lettering: 4/5

JH Williams III writes and draws “Weight,” with Todd Klein lettering. The script is simple and a little on the nose. But the script isn’t the point. This story could almost exist without any of the words. It’s a tour of Batman’s career, with gorgeous splash pages showing all the characters we know and love. Williams blends his own art style with those of Batman manga or Batman: The Animated Series. Klein uses every blank space on the page. Often, Klein’s lettering sticks close to Batman himself. It reminds us that Batman is an action hero whose inner monologue is constantly blaring inside his own head.

“First Flight”

  • Overall: 3.7/5
  • Writing: 2/5
  • Art: 4.5/5
  • Lettering: 4.5/5

Paul Dini writes “First Flight,” with Andy Kubert on art and Rob Leigh lettering. Dini, usually a master of stories big and small, stumbles in this short story. The story itself draws from the mythology of Grant Morrison’s run on Batman. And so Dini becomes a slave to showing readers how his story ties in. Dini unfortunately spends the whole time tying this story to someone else’s, instead of telling his own story. Kubert’s art also already did all that work for Dini. It’s so reminiscent of Morrison’s era, as Kubert was one of the major artists throughout that period, that it immediately acts as a window into the past. Kubert puts these characters in stances and positions we’ve seen before, to send us back. Leigh’s lettering is brilliantly “comicbooky.” His small variations in dialogue make each line jump of the page. And Leigh’s simple choice to give caption boxes teared edges sends us back to the days of Batman and the Black Journal.

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Batman Wilson DC Comics

“Sisyphus”

  • Overall: 3.8/5
  • Writing: 3.5/5
  • Art: 4/5
  • Lettering: 4/5

Emma Rios writes and draws “Sisyphus,” with Steve Wands lettering. Rios doesn’t try and make logical sense in this story. It’s not even fully clear which character(s) the story is talking about. But Rios is deliberately shirking off the idea of a “Batman situation” being her short story. She’s not just going to write Batman in a typical Batman-type scene. No, Rios wants to talk about what makes the character the character. Wands mimics Rios’ own logic and flow by twirling the lettering through the pages. It’s through Wands that we see how Rios wants us to see her work. Wands sets the road, we follow it through the images that blend together into intricate splash pages.

“Metamorphosis”

  • Overall: 5/5
  • Writing: 5/5
  • Art: 5/5
  • Lettering: 5/5

G. Willow Wilson writes “Metamorphosis,” with Greg Smallwood illustrating and Clem Robins lettering. “Metamorphosis” is, hands down, the highlight of Batman: Black and White #1. Wilson also fights the expectation to just “set Batman up in a Batman-type scene,” but she does so in a wildly different way. She takes a typical Batman scene and flips it on its head. Smallwood’s art is mesmerizing. His brilliant attention to detail, the tiny changes in a character’s expression from one panel to the next, speaks volumes. Robins has just as much a stake in making this story beautiful. Whether it’s the lyrics to a song on the radio curling down the hallways, or the “SLAM” of a head through a wall, Robins makes every moment count. “Metamorphosis” is one of the strongest Batman short stories I’ve ever read, though it’s charmingly unassuming about its own brilliance.

Batman Wilson DC Comics


DC Comics’ Batman: Black and White #1 is fun. If you like Batman, you’ll definitely like this issue. If you want a reason to pick this issue up, “Metamorphosis” is that reason. The other stories do a wonderful job of peeling back the layers of what makes the Bat. But “Metamorphosis” is a surgical knife, applying dangerous amounts of pressure to Bruce Wayne’s heart. Pick up Batman: Black and White #1, out from DC Comics December 8th, at a comic shop near you!

 

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Zac Owens
A world traveler and all-round nerdy guy, Zac is a DC fan and aspiring comic book writer. When he's not writing for Monkeys Fighting Robots he's carefully fitting more books onto his already-dangerously-overstuffed bookshelf. He lives in Halifax, NS for the moment, that is until his Green Lantern ring comes in...