REVIEW: ‘Man-Bat,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Man-Bat #1

Man-Bat #1 is a comic by DC Comics. Written by Dave Wielgosz with art by Sumit Kumar. Colors by Romulo Fajardo Jr and letters by Tom Napolitano.

Man-Bat, or Kirk Langstrom, is a biologist who was enacting research to help the hearing impaired. His research went awry, however, when he created a serum. Upon ingesting the serum, it turns him into a giant bat, losing much of his intelligence and reason. Throughout his appearances, he has been a hero and a villain, battling Batman on numerous occasions.

This issue starts with Francine, Langstroms’ wife, leaving for the final time after Kirk has become too obsessed with the serum. He takes the serum, transforming into his alternate form and taking to the skies of Gotham.

Man-Bat witnesses a robbery by a gang in a van, so he decides to give chase. His violent attempts to apprehend the criminals are interfered with when Batman arrives on the scene…

The first issue has a fantastic plot and structure. It has a linear narrative and a quick pace, with Man-Bat taking to the air very early in the comic. Chasing after the robbery and the ensuing three-way tussle between Man-Bat, Batman, and the criminals is an extended sequence full of energy and exciting fights. The result of this is a huge, surprising event, and only halfway through the issue. The aftermath of the event has several reveals that may only make things worse. The final page has a character reveal that was absolutely unexpected and is sure to throw the series into chaos. 

Langstrom is an interesting character to star in his own series, possessing the classic Jekyll and Hyde archetype, but he isn’t exactly likable in his human form. This appears to be an intentional tactic by the writer. His longing for the serum has made him single-minded, ignoring anything and anyone else. Man-Bat #1 seems to take place at the end of a long road for him, where he has forgotten the initial goal. Like Francine and Batman, those around him have started to grow tired of the damage he does in his furry form, unable to think of ways to help him. But the reader may also feel sympathetic towards him. The revelation regarding him later in the issue will change his relationship with the serum even further.

The scenes where he is Man-Bat are when he might actually be more appealing as a being. He still speaks during these parts but much less, considering he is a huge noctilionine by then. When engaging enemies, he is averse to killing as any hero. But people can still get hurt when he’s around because of his impulsive nature. But this restraint may be put to the test as more parties join the mission to stop him.

Batman is a fun aspect to the comic because he serves as a supporting character and partly a villain of the piece (in Man-Bat’s mind). The part where he joins the battle between the Blackout Gang and Man-Bat is a brilliantly written sequence. Wielgosz balances Batman trying to deal with the thieves while also stopping Langstrom from hurting anybody. He understands Kirk’s good intentions but is also aware of what can go wrong.

The art is fantastic and fits the tone of the book perfectly. Kumar’s art has a scratchy effect, with multiple lines etched right next to each other. This fits the horror-esqe genre of Man-Bat #1. While the comic isn’t particularly scary, the nature of Man-Bat’s appearance warrants the aesthetic. 

Both Bats within the issue look fantastic. Kumar captures Man-Bat’s monstrous attributes well whilst also being brilliant at showing emotion on the animalistic face. The artist frequently makes the movements and posture of his alternate form look like a bat. When he gets up after a heavy landing, his wings slump as he checks them for damage. Through images in the book, those glorious looking appendages have weight to them. Batman also looks brilliant, with emphasis placed on the pointier parts of his costume, such as the tips of his cape and ears. One of the comic’s subtler parts is pointing out the similarities of the two characters and that they are the antithesis of each other. Batman and Man-Bat’s poses mimic each other frequently within the issue.

The colors within the comic are stunning, perfectly suited to the world this issue is set in. The backgrounds usually have some unnatural color to them, but they are equally beautiful and striking. Blues, yellows, greens, and reds are all used as backdrops for the action. The “light” catches the lines of Kumar’s art well. Man-Bat’s fur has multiple shades of brown layered within it, helping to add texture to it. Batman is actually one of the brightest figures within the issue in regards to color. The grey within his costume has a blue tinge to it in certain lights, making him stand out. The palette Fajardo Jr. uses suggests that you don’t need to solely rely on shadows and darkness within a comic with this tone. 

The lettering is fantastic. Napolitano channels characters’ voices expertly through the different fonts used, particularly the rasp that comes from Man-Bat. The creature shouts with big, dynamic letters that accentuate his presence.

Man-Bat #1 is an amazing first issue for a character that has long been neglected. Man-Bat is a character that is awesome from a visual and story point of view. But instead of him being a side character or a villain, this is his book. And the issue does feel like it’s split evenly between the man and the bat. The art and colors are jaw-dropping and look different from any other comics out there, giving it a visual edge. Two different characters in one body that you can’t help but feel sorry for. It will be interesting to see how the story maintains this momentum.

Man-Bat #1 is available now wherever comics are sold.

 

Man-Bat #1
5

TL;DR

Man-Bat #1 is an amazing first issue for a character that has long been neglected. Man-Bat is a character that is awesome from a visual and story point of view. But instead of him being a side character or a villain, this is his book. And the issue does feel like it’s split evenly between the man and the bat. The art and colors are jaw-dropping and look different from any other comics out there, giving it a visual edge. Two different characters in one body that you can’t help but feel sorry for. It will be interesting to see how the story maintains this momentum.