Fans of short stories should prick up their ears as a new edition of Legends of the Dark Knight is out this week. So far, the series has been a delightful look at different aspects involving Batman and his friends, and in this week’s issue, Che Grayson focuses on a street gang while Yedoye Travis utilizes Scarecrow to explore Batman’s inner pain. They are complete stories that add a bit of color to Gotham making this an easy buy-in for casual readers.
The first story by Grayson is drawn by Belén Ortega and opens with the Ghost Dogs robbing a jewelry store. Wearing animal masks, we are told via captions the group is impossible to catch and they have a reputation. Soon though, Batman captures one and makes her talk. We soon learn a lot about the Ghost Dog, who goes by Ghost, and her tragic life.
This story works very well to show Batman has compassion for criminals. As he learns Ghost grew up poor and beaten on the left, Ortega shows us Bruce’s life juxtaposed on the right. Even with good intentions, the world shapes us and this story is a good reminder of that. The general design of Ghost is quite good as she looks accurate to her age with good details in her clothing. Meanwhile, Batman’s body language in response to her story and her toughness says everything you need to know.
By story’s end, Grayson makes it clear Batman has a compassionate heart, although one might ponder why he doesn’t use his money to help the Ghost Dogs. That said, the final twist of the story does seem to suggest Batman is listening and justice will be made. In fact, the moral of the story might be small justices can sometimes be ignored for larger ones.
Colors by Alejandro Sanchez are incredibly moody and atmospheric. Seeing the blues of the city lights flare out adds a bit of drama and coldness to Ghost’s walk home, for instance. Letters by Aditya Bidikar are certain and clean.
The second story of the book is written by Yedoye Travis with art by Nina Vakueva, and opens on a familiar-looking family exiting Zorro. They take their tragic turn down crime alley–cleverly, Travis has Mr. Wayne reflect on asking Alfred about the name–and Ivan Plascencia’s colors turn everything to blue. This is a key element that pays off by story’s end. Soon we see Batman take out these perpetrators, but his younger self screams for him to wake up.
It appears Batman is reliving the events in a dream and we are seeing what he’d do to the criminal that killed his parents. This is evident in a scene shift in Scarecrow’s office where he’s treating Batman.
Scarecrow is written very well here, as he’s smart, self-reflective, and actually pushing Batman in a way that is clever. He has a playfulness that’s unmistakable, which plays off Batman’s seriousness well. This leads to Batman forcing himself to confront his childhood trauma in a new way, but more importantly on his own terms. All in all, Travis and Vakueva tell an efficient and heartfelt story with a slight twist on Batman approaching his trauma in a different light.
Ariana Maher plays with word balloon shape well, especially in the Scarecrow scene. You can actually see the artistry in the letters when Batman and Scarecrow speak in the same panel. In another scene, a word balloon tail exits a panel and reenters another creating a seamless transition so that it’s clear one person is speaking.
Legends of the Dark Knight was the best Batman comic you aren’t reading all the way back in 2012, and that remains true almost nine years later. This issue is a great anthology with two stories that make points about pain, trauma, and the failings of society. It’s a good reminder comics can tell important stories no matter the length as these short-form stories pack a punch.
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