1/12/2010. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: DC Comics. 274 page softcover graphic novel. Price: $19.99 (US), $22.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-56389-917-1.
check out website: www.dccomics.com
With the first volume of ‘Batman Black And White’, I thought it took a little while to get going. In comparison, the reprints from Gotham Knights # 1-16, start running with an Alex Ross illustrated story, ‘Case Study’, written by Paul Dini, examining the Joker’s level of sanity. In fact, compared to volume one, there is a greater focus on the Batman’s rogues gallery. Then, in sharp contrast to this, the next story, ‘Bats Man’ written by Ty Templeton is a wonderful spoof illustrated by Marie Severin. In fact, one of the surprises from this book was how many Marvel Comics artists but only one writer as far as I can see who have never worked or done much work to my knowledge at DC, contributing work which should give you some insight as to how they would adjust to a different universe. ‘A Matter Of Trust’ is written by Chris Claremont and illustrated by Steve Rude and Mark Buckingham having Bruce Wayne acting as a babysitter for an own friend from school with more than humorous results. Are they trying to point out that the Dark Knight is a little too grim? ‘Fortunes’ written by Steven Seagle and illustrated by Daniel Torres moves back into a more chiaroscuro effect but the story pulls it together as Batman has to work with a Middle East detective to solve a murder.
For sheer mood, ‘Blackout’, written by Howard Chaykin (a shame he didn’t do the art for at least one story here) and illustrated by Jorn Bernet is outstanding, simply because of the opening panel of the Batman crouching on a ledge looking down on Gotham City. Oddly, the rest of the story seems practically well-lit in comparison.
‘Guardian’, written by Alan Brennert and illustrated by José Garcĭa-López, has it for story quality bringing in the original Green Lantern in to lighten the Batman’s mood. Indeed, that could be said for a lot of the stories here.
‘The Black And White Bandit’ by Dave Gibbons introduces a new villain to the Batman rogue’s gallery. It would be interesting to see him and his MO turn up in a colour comic just to see how he could be used there.
‘Funny Money’, written by Harlan Ellison and drawn by Gene Ha, who has the habit of making the Batman’s ears look a tad mouse-like, makes up for it in the amount of detail he supplies to his illustrations.
I was in two minds as to whether or not to include ‘The Bet’, written by Paul Dini and illustrated by Ronnie Del Carmen, as a favourite one mostly because of the more cartoon-like art but the plot based around Harley Quinn and a surrogate Joker is priceless.
‘Stormy Nether’ is written by Tom Meyer but it is the classic team of Gene Colan and Tom Palmer that makes it reek of class and you always have to admire the latter’s inking technique in feathering all those lines.
As you can tell by now, I’m kind of impressed by this volume. With twenty-one stories here, I think it won’t be a question of which are the diamonds. Most of them are.
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Stephen Hunt's novels - USA