Batman: Black & White is a DC Comics tradition delivering anthology tales highlighting great art and clever short stories. The series has given some of the best comic book industry talents a chance to tell a mini-tale, and this week’s fifth issue is no different. That includes three stories by creators traditionally only drawn and not writing, a story from the main Detective Comics writer, and a story from the creative team of The Wicked + The Divine. There’s a lot here for comics superfans and thus, it literally can’t disappoint.
This issue opens with a story by Jorge Jimenez with letters by Rob Leigh. Titled “A Father and Son Outing” it features Bruce and Damian staking out a mob trade. The story is gorgeous, with great use of white to convey the streaking sun of the day and the lighting of the street lights by night. It’s a great example of how Batman as a father works so well, especially when Damian can barely play by his own rules. Jimenez plays around with how Bruce sees himself as Batman which is a nice way of showing the dark fear he instills in others. Meanwhile, his son dresses him down with how he thinks they should take out the mobsters. It’s clever, cute, and a great way to start the book.
Next is “Signals” by Lee Weeks and Clayton Cowles, which is Commissioner Gordon-centric. There’s a dark noir edge to the story that suits Gordon’s rough detective vibe. He wants to make something right and knows he could use Batman, but ultimately he must do it alone. Though Batman isn’t the center focus, it’s nice to see how he respects Gordon’s choice to do this himself even when it’s dangerous.
“Blue” by Mariko Tamaki and Emanuela Lupacchino and Wade Von Grawbadger, with letters by Ariana Maher, is a Two-Face story. It heavily focuses on Two-Face’s wedding day before he was turned into a villain. Tamaki plays around with the idea that maybe Harvey wasn’t a pure good guy to start. It also builds towards an interesting character reveal that may be used elsewhere. Lupacchino’s art is curvy and pleasing to the eye, not unlike Yanick Paquette’s. It suits the wholesomeness of the wedding and the more clean-cut look of the characters in its story.
Ridler fans should check out “The Riddle” by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie with letters by Cowles. McKelvie is clearly using Batman: The Animated Series designs for a few of the villains that pop up in a clever choose-your-own-adventure story. Given the nature of the story and the throwback look to the villains, there’s a nostalgic vibe here. This tale also highlights how Batman always finds a way no matter the new threats he faces which plays off the choose your own adventure theme well.
The last story is “The Man Who Flies” by Jamal Campbell and letters by Deron Bennett. This is a hopeful but realistic look at Nightwing and the family and bonds he’s made along the way. The story is gorgeously rendered and acts as a love letter to Nightwing. It’s a must-buy for anyone who enjoys the character.
Yet another great collection in an anthology series that blows you away with its art, clever tales, and great writing. Every story is incredible in its own way and the only downfall of this issue might be how many stories aren’t focused on Batman. Batman: Black & White is five issues in though, so it gets a pass on focusing on other characters like Nightwing or Commissioner Gordon.
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