SYNOPSIS: The brutal and action-packed Batman tale “Back to Year One” by Guillem March takes a shocking turn! Plus, Matthew Rosenberg and Matteo Scalera bring their incredible talent to Batman Black & White!
That didn’t go as I expected!
Writer and artist Guillem March continues part 2 of “Pygmalion” this issue, giving the story a few twists and turns. I really enjoy the characterization he gives to “Batman” in this. The way he thinks everything through, trying to rationalize and deduce what has happened and what should happen gives credence to the thought that this is an amnesiac Bruce Wayne who has lost his way. But is he?
Catwoman’s appearance is a welcome one, not only for how she inadvertently moves the plot along, but for how she tests and challenges “Batman” as well. Should he continue to heed the siren song of the Bat-Signal, or stay more on the “ground level” of Gotham, helping those less fortunate than the people in their downtown penthouses? It’s an interesting question regarding his effectiveness.
The plot really thickens when “Batman” meets Batman in a beautiful splash page! March’s art makes it easy to distinguish between the two as they come into conflict. His visuals sell the characters’ emotions as well, equally matching the words that go with it. It feels like March captures the balance of story and art, something I have seen artists struggle with when they make the leap to writing. Everything is well-paced and rings true, except possibly for one caveat, but that would be spoiling things.
“The Wager” is the Batman: Black and White entry, brought to stark and spooky life by Matthew Rosenberg (The Joker: The Man Who Stopped Laughing) and Matteo Scalera (Batman: White Knight Presents: Harley Quinn). A manhunt for a vicious criminal leads Batman into a competition with Etrigan the Demon as to who can capture him first! From the jump, Scalera draws the reader in with his snow-covered cityscapes, with its Dark Knight a mere speck looking after it all. Rosenberg’s terse narration sets the stakes, as Batman outlines why he’s after this particular mobster.
When The Batman finally corners his prey, we as readers get treated to a dramatic splash page of The Demon confronting the Caped Crusader that brilliantly uses the black and white format to create an inky darkness emanating from the shadows. Scalera’s work here is breathtaking, possibly the best of his I’ve seen. The blacks in particular are reminiscent of Miller’s work in Sin City, adding depth and dimension to the visuals. Rosenberg’s story is effective and he is perfectly partnered here with Scalera to bring this little corner of hell and damnation to Gotham. The ambiguity of the wager’s outcome is much appreciated as well.
Once again, as far as the Batman content is concerned, The Brave & The Bold is a thrilling book. March’s story is intriguing, brought to life through his unique visual flair and who doesn’t love a standalone Black & White story told with aplomb? I continue to love these Batman stories month in and month out! – Javier E. Trujillo