Steve Niles (writer), Kelley Jones (pencils), Michelle Madsen (colors), Pat Brosseau (letter)
Simply put: This book rules. Steve Niles’ take on Batman and his world is unique, and it really plays up on Batman’s boogeyman persona. In the comic, Batman investigates a series of occult-related crimes going on in Gotham. Scarecrow was in issue one, Manbat in issue two, and Clayface is set for issue three. Niles seems to be working with the horror section of Batman’s Rogues Gallery.
The writing highlight for me is definitely the fact that Niles gets Batman back to his roots. Unlike a lot of the recent DC appearances, Batman isn’t smiling or joking – he’s the dark character we’re all used to. Niles’ use of Batman’s narrative is fantastic as he could easily be talking to the audience or giving a seminar to heroes in training. It’s both bleak and informative. Every action he takes, is explained in a very simplistic way, it’s a “how-to” of kick ass and fear.
As great as Nile’s writing is in the book, Kelley Jones’ artwork is that much better. It’s incredibly rare to have an artist nail the tone of a book so hard. I’m usually a big fan of realistic looking artwork, but Jones is making me a believer for sure. Batman is drawn more like a monster than man, with his cape almost appearing to be alive in certain panels.
Chapter three is my favorite. When the light comes in through the blinds while Batman visits Detective Clarkson, he’s drawn with black and white stripes. It accomplishes a number of things. First, it makes Batman look huge and elemental. Second, it’s a good visual tool to show both Batman’s view of right and wrong and his relationship with the law.
Jones and Niles as a duo compliment each other better than most I’ve seen in a long while. I’m interested in seeing where this is all goes, as it has loads of potential. The run being 12 issues makes me a little nervous that it may start to drag, but if they can keep the pace of book two we’re in for a wild ride. Their dark and creepy take on The Dark Knight will definitely be a fun read. (Grade: B+)