SYNOPSIS: While investigating a string of bloody gangland murders, Batman comes face-to-face with the newest member of his rogues gallery–the brutal Mr. Baseball! Dennis Culver and Otto Schmidt tell a gripping, violent tale of the Dark Knight! And this issue’s Batman: Black & White tale by Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing and Jorge Molina takes us to a different Gotham City, where Batman is a young, arrogant monster hunter about to be humbled by a legion of bats!
I was so excited to crack open the latest issue of The Brave and The Bold and see what King and Gerads had in store for us this time!
And then I saw the credits…
What the hell is “Mr. Baseball”????!!?!??!!?
As it turns out, TB&TB is flipping issues when it comes to the main Batman story, so King and Co should be returning next time. Readers will now find writer Dennis Culver and artist Otto Schmidt introducing a new member to the Rogues Gallery, but will he be more Two-Face or Crazy Quilt?
I think the answer might be a bit of both.
Writer Culver does an excellent job setting up the back story for his new villain, a man obsessed with baseball and the idea of money-balling the perfect crew to pull off a heist. When he gets in trouble with the mob, they take his passion for baseball and use it against him, disfiguring his face to resemble the ball from his favorite pastime.
To add to the narrative, Culver provides a new wrinkle to young Bruce Wayne’s backstory, an element that reverberates into his present, both as Batman and Matches Malone. This is really Mr. Baseball’s story, but by adding a personal connection for Bruce, Batman becomes an important part of the narrative as well, adding a resonance to his involvement.
The story actually feels like it could be a classic episode of Batman: The Animated Series. The way that it introduces a new villain helps you understand their pathology and it’s a gimmick that is both unnerving and slightly silly. Make no mistake, Mr. Baseball is a threat, though.
Otto Schimdt’s distinct art has a kinetic flair to it. I’ve been a fan of his since he was on Green Arrow and with the aid of colors by Pierluigi Casolino his work is a treat to look at in this issue. Our first look at Mr. Baseball is excellently laid out and the coloring on the flashbacks makes them glow with the warmth of a cherished memory. It all makes for a fun read, but I wish we got more of his Batman. There wasn’t any Batman-centric panel that stood out like some of Gerads’. Like I said, this Mr. Baseball’s show.
“All Things Considered” is the Batman: Black & White entry, by writers Kelly and Lanzing, with Jorge Molina on art. Molina recently contributed to “Abyss” in Batman #118-121 and I loved his work there and that carries over to this. Once again, a story in this issue feels like Batman:TAS, but in this case, more like a Dark Multiverse version of the pilot, “On Leather Wings”. Like that episode, the spotlight falls on Kirk Langstrom, the Man-Bat. However, in this reality, he has taken over Gotham and rules it with a legion of vampires. Only Bruce Wayne can transform himself into the hero Gotham needs to retake the city. It’s breathtaking work, leaving me wanting to see more of this universe beyond the brief glimpse of what lies ahead in this Batman’s future.
While I started off reading this issue dismayed that it wasn’t what I expected, I actually found myself enjoying it quite a bit. Both stories were compelling and had fantastic art. From a Batman perspective, The Brave & The Bold has been pretty much knocking it out of the park! – Javier E. Trujillo