REVIEW: ‘Batman,’ Annual #4

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Batman Annual #4

Batman Annual #4 published by DC Comics, is written by Tom King, with art by Jorge Fornes and Mike Norton, colors by Dave Stewart, and letters by Clayton Cowles. The annual is a stand-alone story based around the diary of Alfred Pennyworth, detailing multiple instances of Batman’s bravery and heroic deeds with added notes from the butler himself. 

The annual is written entirely from the perspective of Alfred with the events taking place over two months. Alfred’s diary delves into a multitude of the tasks that Batman deals with as he protects his city – which includes defeating a crime syndicate, solving a murder and fighting a massive dragon. Alongside these various adventures, Alfred adds a little more insight into the man behind the mask while adding in his thoughts and conclusions.

This issue ranks very high in terms of King’s work with the character of Batman, giving readers a highly entertaining book which sums up why the character is such an icon after all these years. Much like Grant Morrison’s run, King isn’t afraid to acknowledge and reintroduce the bizarre and more “comic-book” elements to the Batman story. It doesn’t matter whether Batman is in a dark and moody detective case or working his way through a multi-dimensional realm. It all feels like Batman.

Batman Annual #4

The issue also shares traits with the latest Jimmy Olsen mini-series, another DC property which has decided to forgo the ‘modern, gritty’ rebooted aspects of comics and reminded itself that it’s purely a fun romp. This is a world where men can fly using a magic ring, or travel back in time using their speed treadmill; these books are allowed to be exercising imagination.

King does a great job at finding Alfred’s voice, with lines such as “this is, obviously, not Batman’s first dragon” being a highlight. As a character, Alfred has known Bruce the longest and can provide perhaps the best insight into his point of view, so it’s interesting to see that even he doesn’t exactly know all the answers to Bruce’s psyche. The format of the book is fantastic, with Cowles’ lettering altering depending on the type of story being told panel-to-to panel. The dating of events excluding years also helps to reiterate the timelessness of the character and his role in pop culture. It’s also a fun exercise in utilizing all of Bruce’s detective mind, arsenal (bat-skis included), strength, kindness and heart – all of which are on display here.

Batman Annual #4

Of course, the highlight of the book has to be Jorge Fornes and Mike Norton’s artwork which is nothing more than superb. Fornes, in particular, manages to have a depict Batman in Mazzucchelli-like manner which feels right. While a lot of fans were frustrated about the reintroduction of the ‘Bat-Trunks’, it’s art like this that reminds you why the classic design works so well. It’s brilliant. Norton also provides excellent artwork which contrasts from Fornes while continuing to cement the timeless nature of the story.

Stewart’s colors help to highlight every aspect of the story. Whether it’s a Gotham night or a bright page with vibrant colors, everything fits perfectly. Notably, a panel which features the Joker being whacked by Batman with highlighted purple, reds and greens, which seems like a ludicrous thing to point out, but this is how the Joker should look!

Batman Annual #4 is a perfect standalone Batman book that is a joy to read, visually stunning, and a reminder of why comics are such a brilliant medium.

Batman Annual #4 is available now wherever comics are sold.

Batman Annual #4
5

TL;DR

Batman Annual #4 is a perfect standalone Batman book that is a joy to read, visually stunning, and a reminder of why comics are such a brilliant medium.