REVIEW: ‘Batman: Urban Legends,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Batman Urban Legends #1

Batman: Urban Legends #1 is a new anthology series published by DC Comics. Unlike other Batman-themed anthologies such as Batman: Black & White or Future State: The Next BatmanUrban Legends places the spotlight on Batman’s allies and enemies-though the Dark Knight does make an appearance.

The first issue features four stories. “Cheer,” which focuses on Red Hood, is written by Chip Zdarsku, illustrated by Eddy Barrows & Eber Ferreira (with Marcus To illustrating flashback sequences), colored by Adriano Lucas, and lettered by Becca Carey. “New Roots,” centered on Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn’s relationship, is written by Stephanie Phillips, illustrated by Laura Braga, colored by Ivan Plascencia, and lettered by Deron Bennett. The Outsiders star in “The Caretaker,” written by Brandon Thomas, illustrated by Max Dunbar, colored by Luis Guerrero, and lettered by Steve Wands. Finally, Grifter takes center stage for “The Long Con,” written by Matthew Rosenberg, illustrated by Ryan Benjamin, colored by Antonio Fabele, and lettered by Saida Temofonte.

Of the four stories, “Cheer” hit the hardest emotionally. Zdarsky has previously written men grappling with moral issues, as seen in his work on Daredevil. Here he takes the same approach to Jason Todd, and it works for the best. Jason has often been pigeon-holed into the “bad boy” role for the Batman family, and people often forget that even though he was resurrected, he suffered an immense trauma. Zdarsky addresses this via the case Jason takes on, which finds him investigating a new drug on the streets-and running into a young boy around the way. Their interactions are heartwarming, especially considering that everyone else in Jason’s life either treats him as a lost cause or a murderous thug.

Artwise, Barrows Ferreria and To have a solid rapport, easily transporting from past to present. Barrows and Ferreria have a darker, harsher approach to their art, while To’s is softer and lighter, easily signifying the difference between Jason’s time as Robin and his present as the Red Hood. A large part of this is also due to Lucas’ colors, which are warmer in the flashback sequence and cast Jason in shadows for the present day.

The other standout story is “The Caretaker,” which paints an intriguing mystery. Thomas had previously written an Outsiders-themed story for Future State: The Next Batman, and here he returns to the team in the present day, writing an action-packed flashback that leads into a shocking twist. Dunbar, best known for providing art for Dungeons & Dragons, easily transitions into the superhero genre-and clearly has fun drawing Black Lightning using his electric powers. Given that Thomas has picked up plot points from Bryan Edward Hill’s run on the Outsiders in both of his stories—a run I especially enjoyed—I would love for DC to announce an Outsiders ongoing series with him on writing duties.

The other two stories are pretty solid and serve as lead-ins to other ongoing titles; Phillips will write the upcoming Harley Quinn series, while Grifter has featured heavily in James Tynion IV’s Batman run. Phillips and Braga’s is a heartwrenching tale of Harley and Ivy’s relationship, which will more than likely have readers shedding tears. Rosenberg and Benjamin continue to paint Grifter as a loveable rogue and has me hopeful for other Wilstorm characters to enter the DC Universe proper.

Batman: Urban Legends #1 is a solid chronicle of the Dark Knight’s friends and foes, featuring tales of triumph and heartbreak. If you’re a fan of Batman or a specific character within the Batman mythos, chances are there’s a story in here for you.

Batman: Urban Legends #1 is available now wherever comics are sold.

Batman: Urban Legends #1
4.5

TL;DR

Batman: Urban Legends #1 is a solid chronicle of the Dark Knight’s friends and foes, featuring tales of triumph and heartbreak. If you’re a fan of Batman or a specific character within the Batman mythos, chances are there’s a story in here for you.