REVIEW: ‘Batman Black and White,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Batman Black and White #1

Batman Black and White #1 is published by DC Comics, written by James Tynion IV, J.H Williams III, G.Willow Wilson, Emma Rios and Paul Dini, with art by Tradd Moore, J.H Willams III, Greg Smallwood, Emma Rios, Andy Kubert, Max Fiumara and Dexter Soy, with letters by Peach Momoko, Clayton Cowles, Todd Klein, Clem Robbins, Steve Wands and  Rob Leigh.

Collecting a series of stand-alone comics in crisp black and white art, this double-sized issue delivers a varied assortment of looks at the Dark Knight. With the assorted talent listed above, I think it would be difficult for someone to be unable to find at least one story that strikes true for them. And while there are a couple of stumbles for me, overall, Batman Black and White #1 was an interesting look at Batman, in mostly beautiful black and white.

As is often the case with the Caped Crusader, the two stories I found the most interesting in this anthology focus more on the villains of the story than Batman himself. With Tynion’s opening the comic with his story “The Demon’s Fist” we get a look at a run of the mill fight for Batman but through the eyes of a generic League of Assassins ninja.

This story delivers something rather unique. Seeing this one of a million fight scene through the eyes of the goon gives what would’ve been a filler encounter leading to bigger battles, and makes it a moment of profound importance. As we receive a running internal monologue from the assassin, we learn just how important this moment is to him. It is the culmination of his entire life. It is his chance to succeed and perhaps be recognized by those whose opinions he values. It takes the villains’ point of view and makes it feel akin to a child’s first piano recital. What may be forgotten by all others involved, will be a defining moment for him.

The other story that stood out to me is Wilson’s story “Metamorphosis”. In this tale, which features some gorgeous noir style art from Smallwood, we see Batman responding to a hostage situation involving one young woman being held hostage and one officer already down. But as soon as Batman begins to investigate he realizes something is not as it seems. Wilson puts a spin on what could have been an all too familiar villain brawl by injecting some uncomfortable truths about life, and what we are willing to look past when only one person is willing to show us kindness.

Beyond these two stories, the rest of Batman Black and White #1 delivers several other pieces that mostly land well. The only story I found a bit wanting is one in which Batman, while perched upon a grotesque overlooking Gotham, ponders the silent danger sweeping through the city streets. While it is never explicitly stated, it feels easy to conclude that Batman is referencing the Corona Virus, and thinking of Gotham’s healthcare workers who are battling to keep Gotham safe.

Doing a salute to real-world problems in a comic book is a fine thing to me, this story goes a bit astray for me however when Batman begins comparing the fear, and uncertainty the virus brings with it to his own fears and uncertainties in the wake of his parents’ death. Comparing a real world tragedy to the loss of a fictional character is, for me, not quite the way to go. I’d never say it’s to the point of being insulting, or offensive, it just doesn’t land the way I believe the author intended.

As with the various narratives present here, the art also delivers a solid showing. Lots of different styles and approaches are utilized to highlight many different versions of the timeless classic look of Batman.

The letter work present here does a strong job of delivering the varied stories in all cases save one. In this story, the letterer has omitted the standard box formatting for the words and allowed them to blend into the art itself. That, combined with the thin cursive font chosen, allows the text to blend in a little too well. Sometimes forcing me to re-read pages as I would discover lost text amongst the art.

When all is said and done, Batman Black and White #1 is a strong anthology book for anyone looking for a set of varied takes on the Dark Knight. Featuring strong performances from some industry powerhouses, the book is sure to have something for everyone.

Batman Black and White #1 is available on December 8th wherever comics are sold.

‘Batman Black and White,’ Issue #1
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TL;DR

When all is said and done, Batman Black and White #1 is a strong anthology book for anyone looking for a set of varied takes on the Dark Knight. Featuring strong performances from some industry powerhouses, the book is sure to have something for everyone.