REVIEW: “Man-Bat,” Issue #2

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Man Bat #2 - But Why Tho?

Man-Bat #2 is published by DC Comics, written by Dave Wielgosz and art by Sumit Kumar. Colours by Romulo Fajardo Jr. The letterer is Tom Napolitano. Kirk Langstrom, aka Man-Bat, is at a low part of his life. His wife, tired of his obsession with his serum, walked out on him. Man-Bat then tried to stop a group of thieves from stealing a sonic cannon. Batman tried to prevent Langstrom from intervening, prompting a chaotic battle. In his rage, Man-Bat both broke and activated the cannon, causing severe damage and even removing the hearing from the civilians nearby.

Batman captured Langstrom, revoking his right to freedom. But before he does so, he tells the scientist that his exposure to the serum has mutated his cells irreversibly and Man-Bat will eventually overthrow him completely. Man-Bat escapes during the prison transfer. But it isn’t Batman tasked with bringing him in. Instead, that falls to Amanda Waller and the Suicide Squad.

This issue sees the Suicide Squad enact their plan to bring Langstrom in. He has taken shelter at his childhood home, working on ways to stop his death sentence. Deadshot attacks, spooking Langstrom and bringing out the bat inside. The Squad is ordered to not kill their target, with the intention to bring him in as a potential recruit. But as Man-Bat gets harder to handle, Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, and Killer Croc’s restraint begin to falter.

Most of the issue consists of action as the Squad attempts to take Langstrom down. The plot maintains a quick pace throughout the comic, although there is a slow start. The first scene is a flashback of Kirk and his wife inside the house he is currently hiding in. This is useful as it reminds the reader why the protagonist is in this current mindset. Even as we move to the present, Kirk is working on a way to cure himself. The mission for the Squad is laid out and then it erupts. The fight itself is energetic and fun to watch, with several twists within it. There are two reveals at the end of the comic. Both of them are huge surprises, with one in particular changing the course of the entire series. A clever technique that is utilised by Wielgosz is that he reveals a character that Man-Bat may be facing in the next issue. This results in more excitement as the current issue ends.

There is more character development within Man-Bat #2, but it doesn’t get in the way of the plot or the battle. Kirk is delusional, and this becomes clearer as the series progresses. He has awareness of what he has done, particularly with the sonic cannon incident. But he considers it his responsibility to fix it, sending him further into his obsession over the serum. In the flashback, it is shown that it was at a lesser extent when he first began finding a cure for his sister. But the early signs were there, starting to set within his soul.

In his human state, he understands what the Suicide Squad is wanting to do to him. He also knows who Deadshot and the other attackers are. As Man-Bat, his motivations become more animalistic. He wants to escape initially, fly out of the area without harming anyone. But the Suicide Squad prevents him from doing so. His rage gets fiercer, and with that comes a desire to be the monster they want him to be. 

Wielgosz’s writing of the Squad is fantastic, with each of them having a specific role within the story. Deadshot is there to spook Langstrom, but also serves as the constant counter-argument against the no-kill order. Rick Flag is the leader and commander, trying to keep the operation on track. Captain Boomerang is there to ground Man-Bat. But it is Killer Croc who is the perfect inclusion to the comic. He is similar in concept, a human turned into an animal. Except he is further down the road of accepting what he is. Croc is Man-Bat’s potential final future. As for Harley, her role is left until later. She is also a brilliant addition to this comic, having numerous connections to Man-Bat.

The dialogue is terrific; the script brilliantly managed. Each of the Squad feels unique and authentic to their characters. Man-Bat doesn’t talk much, so when he does speak it is usually important to pay attention. He isn’t stupid by any means, but he is scared and savage. Deadshot’s comments regarding their target details what sets him apart from other characters within this corner of the DC Universe. Langstrom isn’t like other victims of Gotham, he’s not a hard-edged killer. He’s a scientist whose ambition got the better of him.

The art remains superb. There is incredible detail given to each and every figure, from Croc’s scales to Deadshot’s armour. Kumar instils a change within both Kirk and Man-Bat. Man-Bat is getting more monstrous in appearance, his screaming face like that of a demon. And as Kirk, he is beginning to lose his humanity too. His face, scratchy with stubble, is starting to resemble a beast. 

The fight has brilliant and varied choreography. The artist shows Man-Bat’s movement and combat in away that denotes his personality. Even in his Chiropteran form, he isn’t a fighter. He lashes out, using his size and wings to knock enemies out of the way. Killer Croc is similar but is much more of a brute. Captain Boomerang and Deadshot look awesome in action as well.

The colours are stunning again, but there is a change. The first issue had shades of horror within it due to the shadows and darkness. Whilst Fajardo Jr. uses unnatural colours and different tones in his panels, there was still a creepiness to Gotham. The brawl in Man-Bat #2 takes place in the open and in the day, lifting the atmosphere slightly. It still looks gorgeous despite the added light. There are large amounts of detail found in the colours, right down to the yellowing grass beneath those fighting. Killer Croc’s skin isn’t just one shade of green, there’s a massive variation all over his body. The other uniforms, all different colours, are expertly rendered with textures.

The lettering is fantastic, with very specific care taken towards Man-Bat. His word-balloons are huge as he screeches, the lettering also matching the size. This makes them truly sound like screams of pain and rage. They are scratchy, like the art, fitting in wonderfully. Napolitano alters the caption boxes, showing that the thoughts are different as Langstrom transforms.

Man-Bat #2 continues to impress. This series shines a light on such a special character, providing insight into Man-Bat that we’ve rarely seen before. The art style suits the mood of the book perfectly. The action is exhilarating. Man-Bat is such an epic and unique-looking character, every movement he makes is so different from anyone else’s. The inclusion of the Suicide Squad hopefully encourages other fans to read this very niche comic while also grounding the book within the DC Universe. There’s a diversity regarding who is being used in the series, not just Batman, but multiple heroes and villains. But what happens next week may turn the comic upside down.

Man-Bat #2 is available where comics are sold.

Man-Bat #2
4

Summary

Man-Bat #2 continues to impress. This series shines a light on such a special character, providing insight into Man-Bat that we’ve rarely seen before. The art style suits the mood of the book perfectly. The action is exhilarating. Man-Bat is such an epic and unique-looking character, every movement he makes is so different from anyone else’s. The inclusion of the Suicide Squad hopefully encourages other fans to read this very niche comic while also grounding the book within the DC Universe. There’s a diversity regarding who is being used in the series, not just Batman, but multiple heroes and villains. But what happens next week may turn the comic upside down.