Comics legend Garth Ennis and heavyweight artist Liam Sharp return to Gotham with Batman: Reptilian #2. With letters from Rob Steen, this is an intensely fascinating chapter in this unique Batman tale. With a cutting script and fascinating visual work, this is shaping up to be the perfect diversion for Batman fans wanting something new – and bloody.
“Batman hits the streets in search of the creature terrorizing Gotham’s underworld—and hits them hard. First stop is the lair of the Penguin, but Oswald Cobblepot is at death’s door (which is better off than the beast left many of his cronies). The mangled rogue has no answers for Batman, but his blood—and the surprising secrets that it holds—will send the vigilante ever deeper into darkness…”
Writing & Plot
Garth Ennis’s script on Batman: Reptilian #2 is loaded with suspense and snark. Batman’s casual disregard for the dying criminals he finds is genuinely funny. Keep in mind, this is not the Batman of mainline DC. Ennis’s take on the Caped Crusader is much colder and more directly witty. This is to say he’s, well, British. This comic feels as though it were written by Conan Doyle at times. This take on the iconic character is sure to turn off some diehards. However those looking for a different approach to the character are likely to be intrigued by what Ennis is making here. His dialogue is clever and biting, and everyone in the cast has a unique voice.
I find the beast-hunt angle this comic takes very entertaining and unique for a Batman comic. The way the story is methodically progressing is reminiscent of a serial killer or monster mystery. Reptilian feels less like a Batman comic and more akin to a mixture between From Hell and Hellboy. Ennis also adds more of a personal arc between Bruce and Alfred. The kind of relationship they have here isn’t new, but Ennis still makes it feel refreshing.
Liam Sharp continues to make wildly impressive sequential art in Batman: Reptilian #2. In my review for issue #1, I noted just how McKean-esque Sharp’s painted work here is. With this issue however, he takes that influence and departs in his own direction. Sharp’s paints still depict a grimy, gothic, and blood-soaked nightmare version of Gotham. This is likely the most threatening depiction I’ve ever seen of the classic environment. Gotham feels like its own menacing character here, much like how Arkham Asylum feels in Morrison and McKean’s titular graphic novel. Sharp’s character drawings are full of life and great animation. His portrayals of emotion, from Batman’s intimidating visage to a goon’s absolute terror, and lifelike and spot-on.
Sharp’s take on Batman is obviously influenced by the darker comics of the late 80’s and early 90’s. The city and its inhabitants are always shrouded in mist and smog, as one would have it in Gotham city. The color palette in this comic is, of course, bathed in darkness and haze. Sharp is in the process of making a Batman horror comic here, and everything about the aesthetic displays his ability to partake in the genre. The lettering from Rob Steen is simplistic but effective. He uses a clean contemporary font with on the mark bolds and italics, and it sort of disappears into the reading experience. This is a phenomenal looking book, and undoubtedly one of the most unique comics on stands right now.
Batman: Reptilian #2 is a bitingly sharp, tension-filled, and gorgeous second chapter to this Black Label series. Garth Ennis’s sharp wit and desire to do something familiar yet different make for a winning formula here. Liam Sharp’s visuals are haunting and beautiful, making for a reading experience rarely seen in the medium. Be sure to grab this issue when it hits stands on 7/27!