REVIEW: ‘Batman vs Bigby: A Wolf in Gotham,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Batman vs Bigby A Wolf in Gotham #1 - But Why Tho

Batman vs Bigby: A Wolf in Gotham #1 is published by DC Comics, part of their Black Label imprint. Written by Bill Willingham. The penciler is Brian Level with inks by Joe Leisten. The colourist is Lee Loughridge. Letters are by Steve Wands. Batman vs Bigby #1 is a crossover between Batman and Bigby Wolf from the Vertigo series Fables.

Batman is on a case. Bodies have been popping up around Gotham with a strange cause of death. Large bite marks and fur being left behind point towards an animal. But that is not all that appears to be happening in the city, as people are appearing in places they shouldn’t be. As the mystery deepens, Bruce finds himself being tracked.

The most glaring aspect of the plot of this comic is that it appears to be a detective story first. With both characters in this series being detectives, this is not a surprise. Willingham introduces the story brilliantly, with a deep and interesting mystery. There is a darkness within the comic that is maintained throughout the entirety of the comic, leaning into the depths that the Black Label imprint allows. Much of this first chapter is to do with laying out the key players of the comic, with both good and evil sides included. A clever tactic by the writer is informing the reader of events that the characters are a long way from understanding themselves. This will influence the audience’s emotions if the heroes go in the wrong direction. The ending features some unexpected moments but is unlikely to be a massive surprise.

It should be noted that Batman vs Bigby #1 is that this first chapter is primarily focused on Batman. The likelihood is that the readers are more aware of Bruce Wayne and his world than they are Bigby, so it makes sense for this to occur. It is also the latter entering Batman’s world, the independent variable. Another interesting factor is that there are multiple Robins involved. It appears that Dick Grayson, Tim Drake, and Stephanie Brown are all featured in this first issue. Some variations in their personalities may be needed, as they appear slightly bland within their first few lines. There may be too much emphasis placed on exposition inside this issue, with the voices of the characters being lost to crime scene explanation and “what was this person doing there?” related questions.

The art can be considered great in certain instances but is very poor in others. A larger contributing factor to decide which side the art falls on is the inks. When the line weights are thin, Level and Leisten’s work is great. There are some awesome depictions of gruesome crime scenes, again using the opportunity a mature audience provides. The fight scene at the end has some awesome moves and epic choreography. But when there are close-ups on characters and the line weights thicken the art turns unpleasant. Figures look blotchy and lumpy, the implementation of shadows creating bizarre muscle definitions. In particular, those with capes come out the worst in these scenarios. The abundance of shadows causes capes to lose a shape or a sense of flow. Even the thinner lines are too squiggly and lead to awkward, bumpy outlines for the characters.

The colours are superb. Batman vs Bigby #1 is dark in tone, but the colours don’t always reflect this. The surfaces of Gotham are often covered in dark blues, which is frequently the case in Batman comics. But Loughridge does utilise some lighter tones for panels that are filled with light. Either from windows of the Bat-Signal, it casts away from the negative shadows. Even the sky is bathed in a deep red that provides a visual variety. 

The lettering is very good by Wands. With a lot of dialogue inside the comic, the reader needs to pay attention to the details of the detective story. But the word balloons and text inside are large and the font is easy to read.

Batman vs Bigby #1 features some impressive moments. The plot within the crossover is an ingenious method of fusing the two characters, placing them against each other in an authentic way. Whilst their first meeting may not be what is expected, it does suggest some fun and exciting exchanges of a violent and verbal manner between the two. The obstacle that stands in this comic’s way is the poor art, which may turn off readers before they wish to delve any deeper.

Batman vs Bigby: A Wolf in Gotham #1 is available where comics are sold.


3.5

TL;DR

Batman vs Bigby: A Wolf in Gotham #1 features some impressive moments. The plot within the crossover is an ingenious method of fusing the two characters, placing them against each other in an authentic way. Whilst their first meeting may not be what is expected, it does suggest some fun and exciting exchanges of a violent and verbal manner between the two. The obstacle that stands in this comic’s way is the poor art, which may turn off readers before they wish to delve any deeper.