Kurt Busiek has been telling a Batman story that does something completely different. It puts the hero into a real world scenario where everyone knows he’s just a comic book character, but for a select kid it’s very real. It’s a reimagining that ties well into the dark place people are taken when they lose family tragically. The third extra-sized chapter is out today and it finally gives us some explanation for the Batman visage that has been tearing up Boston.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Bruce Wainwright isn’t a child anymore–but the trauma that shaped him, and the monster he created, is still with him! Has Bruce grown enough to deal with the shock when he learns that one of his most closely held beliefs was a lie?
Why does this matter?
John Paul Leon is drawing some of the most moody and atmospheric Batman stuff ever. It’s incredibly noir in its realism and darkness; it also draws you into the reality of the story grounding it thoroughly.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Busiek gives us a pretty definitive answer as to how Bruce is controlling a nightmare-like Batman. It’s not a 100% certainty, but so much time is spent talking about the reality of ghosts and how they work it’d be a huge disappointment if this was all a red herring. This issue also does a good job following Bruce and Batman’s continued desire to clean up the streets of Boston. That includes a major reveal in regards to corruption and goes a long way to show even though Bruce isn’t really Batman he’s doing good work for the city.
The art by John Paul Leon continues to unnerve in the best of ways. This nightmare Batman is truly haunting at times as it doesn’t hold back when it beats the living crap out of bad guys. He also gives it a chance to articulate itself a bit more this issue which further reveals it’s a thinking entity and one that’s basic in its existence. Truth be told, Batman isn’t in the issue all that much, but the casual look of people and their clothing is done so well you’ll forget this is drawn and ease into the realistic look of the book. The use of color is quite good too, with purples, reds, and greens subtly adding a atmospheric dimension to scenes that help convey the deeper meaning. It’s excellent work all around and one that’ll be well worth purchasing the collection for.
The throwback art is exceptional.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The pace of this issue is a bit slow hovering over who the Batman character is and how it connects to Bruce. Aside from that this issue juggles a big corruption scandal, but not much more. Bruce’s uncle mostly narrates with a brief scene, but gets very little development. The issue is good by all means, but it leaves you wanting and it doesn’t push the needle far enough to make it truly great. The final two or so pages do push the plot forward in regards to the possibilities of the Batman nightmare, but it’s too little too late.
Is It Good?
This is another good issue, but not as great as the previous chapters. The story narrows in on explaining the apparition that is Batman, but does it so slowly you’ll be surprised it’s over. That said, this is an excellent alternate take on one of the greatest heroes ever created.
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