If you’re deciding on which of the (what seems like) hundreds of Batman-centric titles to pick up from the stand this week, I can assure you Batman: Urban Legends is never one to miss. Continuing the new wave of stories in the anthology series, Batman: Urban Legends #9 delivers in all of its stories which feature Batwoman, Tweedledee and Tweedledum, Azrael, and the Outsiders.
The last of two parts of the Batwoman story “Disinformation Campaign” sees Beth Kane attempt to use her past villainous identity Red Alice to take down the ubiquitous anti-Oracle that’s been plaguing much of the Bat-team. While serving as a Fear State tie-in, the story also proves itself as a nice look into character. It gives Beth/Red Alice dimension and a new autonomy that complements the larger happenings with Fear State, as writer Alyssa Wong told AIPT was her intention with this story.
The lettering for the anti-Oracle’s holographic speeches is also a pleasant standout. Becca Carey brings dimension to the new character with the completely different digitized font and bubbles. Vasco Georgiev’s art overall is engaging and the stunning panelling and page layouts are reminiscent of the early New 52 Batwoman days. A staple of a good Batwoman comic is balancing the vibrant red of Kate/Batwoman with everything else, and colorist Rain Beredo does just that.
Wonderland themes continue with a new story “Down the Rabbit Hole” exploring former Mad Hatter henchmen Tweedledee and Tweedledum. The first of three micro-stories aiming to rectify their previous lack of depth opens with Tweedledum struggling to take care of an ailing Tweedledee while staying on the side of the law. Typically, stories for side characters tend to just scratch the surface, but writer Sam Johns goes deeper with a look at medical marginalization in America and the unconditional bond between two brothers. Along with Karl Mostert’s excellent facial expressions and David Baron’s classic fairytale-type color scheme, this story has a promising beginning.
Azrael’s story “Dark Knight of the Soul” picks up with Jean-Paul Valley continuing his investigation into Gotham’s reanimated dead bodies, and his faith. Writer Dan Watters explores the idea of how to believe in something when it’s no longer forced on you through Jean-Paul’s crisis of faith. The events in this issue are more of a setup for the climactic last part but it still packs a punch with this exploration and Nikola Čižmešija’s textured art. Ariana Maher’s lettering of Azrael’s thought boxes and speech bubbles bring to life his mind space. Vibrant colors from Ivan Plascencia also aren’t afraid to illuminate this darker story.
The Outsiders in “The Fearful,” the last of two parts of the Fear State tie-in, is a refreshing ending for the go-back-in-time-to-your-younger-self-to-save-the-world trope. Writer Brandon Thomas puts a spotlight on Duke Thomas aka The Signal and proves he’s capable in the past and future all while calling to other points of his story for a fantastic showcase of character. The story was packed with plot and could have been better as a whole six-issue arc, but it did just as much in two.
Cian Tormey’s pencils and Raul Fernandez’s inks are a dynamic spectacle. The art is quite stunning overall, especially the color scheme used by Alejandro Sánchez which is a melodious blend of yellows and blues. A page that uses negative space page to show how Duke sees electric outlines in the dark is also quite stunning. Steve Wands’ dynamic lettering that takes into account speech volume tops off the electrifying art.
Batman: Urban Legends #9, like nearly every issue before it, is a fantastic feature of talent that picks up the corners of the Batman universe and makes them shine.
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