MAN-BATMAN #4 Review

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SYNOPSIS: It’s Batman versus Man-Bat round two! After a disastrous encounter with the Suicide Squad, a therapy session with Harley Quinn and (yet another) failed attempt to cure himself, Langston has been located at last by the Dark Knight! The only problem? Scarecrow got there first! What does the master of fear plan to do with a serum that literally creates monsters? We’ll give you one guess…

Dave Wielgosz’s Man-Bat has been quite the sleeper title for DC comics. This book needs to get more love on social media, a lot more.  Four issues in and readers are thrown into this insane non-stop comic book extravaganza!  Man-Bat, Batman, crime scenes, the Suicide Squad, and now the Scarecrow, things are starting to heat up. Wielgosz has found the perfect balance of personal, emotionally driven moments with no holds barred action.  Man-Bat is a must for your pull list!

While Man-Bat as a title is emotionally driven, one could make the case that issue four takes the deepest dive.  Scarecrow has kidnapped both Langstroms to do his dirty work and manipulates them in his own sick and twisted version of Big Brother.  Seeing the Langstroms go through this cycle of work, love, hate, and repeat is sad to witness and is heavy on the hearts.  Wielgosz takes the reader on this emotional roller coaster ride from Langstrom’s POV. There are moments of what seems to be domestic bliss to just outright rage. There is almost this Beauty and the Beast vibe you get from the couple in this book.  Wielgosz does a fantastic job with pacing and direction. From Scarecrow’s master plan to the Langstrom’s ups and downs to Batman and Alfred, Wielgosz does a great job of being straightforward with motives while driving the story into its final issue.

Wielgosz’s Scarecrow seems almost silver age with just the right hint of B:TAS.  The “dollhouse” gimmick seems like a throwback nod to capers of an era past. At the same time, his genius in chemistry and fear are still intact and on full display.  This version of Scarecrow seems to enjoy playing with the mind even when not using a fear toxin.   The character moments with Batman are engaging, with two vintage interactions in the book. One Batman/Alfred moment screams early career, and the other is a stunning Batman interrogation scene that will leave all Batfans grinning ear to ear.

Sumit Kumar once again graces the pages as our artist. Kumar does an excellent job thought out the book creating an evil look for Crane and Scarecrow.  For Kumar is all about that smirk. It doesn’t matter if it’s Crane or the cut pattern on the mask; Kumar has a knack for making this traditional looking Scarecrow a force of fear.  Kumar has two Batman panels dying to be posterized. One is in an alley, Batman hovering over his prey with a 20-foot shadow, beautifully intimidating. The other a splash page of Batman departing the Batwing. Cape spread on a red backdrop just perfect.

Kumar did some impressive things in the book: he introduces the reader to Scarecrow’s “dollhouse” playground while creating that emotional drive for the Langstrom’s.  Kumar takes the reader on the up and down journey the Langstroms deal with daily. The team of Wielgosz and Kumar excel at this montage moment twice in the book.  They never once seem to step on each other toes.

I can’t stress enough how you all need to be reading this book. A five-issue miniseries of this quality is something DC fans should be talking about on social media.  Each issue does a magnificent job setting up the next, and we are set for a grand finale, Batman vs. Man-Bat.  This miniseries has not gone one way I thought it would, and I, for one, can not wait to see how it finishes! With only one more issue to go, how excited are you to see what is in store for us! – Peter Verra

GRADE: B+

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Senior BOF contributor covering the Bat-beat since January 2017. Co-host of the "Straight Outta Gotham Podcast." Peter has covered the red carpet premiers of BATMAN: NINJA and REIGN OF THE SUPERMEN. Peter has interviewed various titans the industry such as producer Michael Uslan, producer James Tucker, stuntman Richard Cetrone, Kevin Conroy, Tara Strong, Loren Lester, Tony Todd, Will Friedle, Marie Avgeropoulos and Cress Williams just to name a few! Contact Peter on all social media platforms @PeteIllustrated!