By Mike Raicht (writer), David Yardin and Cliff Richards (art), Rodney Ramos (inks, pg. 21), Joe Villarrubia (colors), Patrick Brosseau (letters)

The Story: Another tale spun by the Clown Prince of Crime, this one dealing with Killer Croc’s escape from Arkham and his adoption by a severely dysfunctional criminal family.

What’s Good: Although I’m a pretty big Bat-fan, Killer Croc has never really been my favorite villain (aside from his very cool appearance in the Arkham Asylum video game.) I don’t dislike him, mind, I guess I just prefer seeing Batman take on the slightly more humanoid side of his rogue’s gallery. (Of course, since Batman is only peripheral in this book anyway, that’s not really an issue.)

Speaking of human, though, that’s one thing this book does quite well: humanizing the monster that is Killer Croc. He’s still not as sympathetic as his Marvel counterpart, the Lizard, but this story goes a long way towards parting the curtain and letting us see a little bit of the man behind the beast. The whole “beauty and the beast” angle, while Raicht overplays it a bit for my taste, is still effective, and helps the story more than it hurts.

I particularly enjoyed the artwork in this book. It’s not overly photo referenced, but it doesn’t fall into the “cartoony” trap either; in other words, it fits my definition of a very well drawn comic. It’s not perfect—facial expressions get sloppy when they aren’t in the foreground, and the detailing of the scales on Croc’s skin tends to come and go—but overall, it’s very solid indeed.

What’s Not So Good: Well aside from the small glitches I mentioned in the artwork, I could have used a little more Killer Croc, what with this being a story about him and all. What character development he has is very good, but ultimately the book ends up being more about Edgar and Juliette than it is about Croc himself. True he’s not one for dialog, but watching him get played like this takes something away from his character. Granted, this depiction makes him seem very animalistic indeed (very much like the Lizard again). But even so…allowing himself to be so used not once, but twice, significantly diminishes him, at least for me. I think it’s not a terrible idea, but if they were going to go this direction, they needed far more than just a one-shot to do it with. I’m also not a big fan of the ending…it seems totally counter-intuitive (not to mention extraordinarily heavy-handed in its message.)

Conclusion: Not a great take on Killer Croc in my opinion, but there’s no denying that his characterization is solid, the story is decent, and the artwork is very good. Still, I enjoyed the story in spite of the complaints I have, and I’m not sorry I picked it up.

Grade: C+