The anthology format has been a huge success for DC over the past few years, and with Batman: Urban Legends, the publisher is taking the concept even further. It’s an ongoing series collecting four stories of varying lengths that star characters who on their own may not be able to carry a solo series. It’s more akin to a Weekly Shonen Jump or 2000 AD where stories and creators rotate in any given issue. It’s a novel concept for DC, and hopefully its malleability will allow for more creative risks to be taken and great stories to be told in the process.
This issue’s Red Hood digs a little bit deeper into Jason’s actions from the previous issue, their consequences and the anxiety surrounding the entire situation. Similar to his current run on Daredevil, Chip Zdarsky is interested in exploring the fallout of what happens when a superhero makes a mistake. Jason Todd takes the opposite approach that Matt Murdock does, and attempts to convince himself what he did was not a mistake at all.
Zdarsky’s captions betray the anxiety and angst seen on the page in Eddy Barrows’ art. Jason is visibly distraught, even taking moments to himself to sit and ponder the ramifications of his killing, and not just the one he had just done at the end of issue #1. Flashbacks, with art by Marcus To, add pathos to Jason’s childhood by showing us what is most likely his first kill and the justification behind it.
It’s a tense story. Zdarsky, Barrows, To and inkers Eber Ferreira and Julio Ferreira lean into the darkness of it. Literal darkness drowns the pages, seemingly endless and inescapable. Finally, Red Hood is confronted by Batman. The ease with which Batman takes him down is genuinely upsetting. Jason was already in a tough spot and now he’s held down even lower than before. Shout out to the entire creative team for what is already the Feel-Bad Comic of the Year.
Next up is a one-off Oracle story by Batgirl writer Cecil Castellucci and Marguerite Sauvage. When an extremely effective virus takes over Gotham’s infrastructure, Oracle decides it’s time for some remote work. She makes herself a high-tech, cozy new fit that takes full advantage of Sauvage’s fashion sense.
It’s a low-stakes but timely story about how a virus (computer or otherwise) has ripple effects throughout communities and the city as a whole. And it’s great to see Castellucci back writing for Barbara, especially within the new Gotham status quo where she’s playing support in multiple series that aren’t her own. Here’s to hoping there’s more of Oracle and the Batgirls in the future.
In Outsiders, Black Lightning and Metamorpho are one step closer to tracking down Katana. Meanwhile, Katana is facing off against a whole squadron of demon samurai belonging to a certain someone who adds a new wrinkle into the drama of this series.
Fresh off of Future State: Aquaman and Future State: Outsiders, writer Brandon Thomas continues an impressive streak of titles. He balances characters and drama brilliantly with inventive action scenes, drawn by Max Dunbar and colors by Luis Guerrero. The team truly impresses in one panel where Metamorpho molds himself into a butterfly-like glider strapped to the back of a lightning-propelled Black Lightning. Outsiders is just plain fun, and still manages to have real stakes for the cast.
Finally, we continue Grifter’s origin story courtesy of Matthew Rosenberg and Ryan Benjamin. Future State: Grifters was one of my favorite stories coming out of the event back in January — its over-the-top, non-stop action was a huge draw. The time period and artist may have changed, but that doesn’t stop this Grifter from being just as pulse-pounding.
Cole Cash has a knack for getting out of trouble by the skin of his teeth. Car crashes, hand-to-hand fights, gun play, motorcycles, crashing through an ambulance windshield, he can truly do it all! And while all of those action sequences are fun, the dramatic tension of the series so far comes out of its unpredictability. There’s another threat always just around the corner for Cole, and finding out who or what it is can be quite exciting.
Rosenberg does a great job of keeping things light amidst the action. Cole’s dynamic as “the new guy” in Gotham is a great twist that allows him to go against the grain when the Bat-family is involved.
Batman: Urban Legends #2 continues pushing the anthology series into must-read territory, with talented creative teams giving truly great, fun work.
Like what we do here at AIPT? Consider supporting us and independent comics journalism by becoming a patron today! In addition to our sincere thanks, you can browse AIPT ad-free, gain access to our vibrant Discord community of patrons and staff members, get trade paperbacks sent to your house every month, and a lot more. Click the button below to get started!