Mini Reviews March 2022

Mar 31, 2022

BATMAN: KILLING TIME #1

BATMAN: KILLING TIME #1
Tom King, David Marquez, Alejandro Sanchez 
DC $4.99 (01/03/2022)

Matt: Tom King has been consistently producing fantastic miniseries featuring mostly less high profile characters over the last few years, but Batman is the big icon he can't let go of. Following on from a long run on the regular Batman title, which led (sort of) into the Batman/Catwoman series, with this new six-parter it feels like he's changing tack a bit. This opening chapter places the titular character in more of the blockbuster action thriller arena, centring around a bank heist that may not be all it first seems.

Jumping back and forth across hours, days, and, at one point, centuries, lends the narrative a sense of urgency, as the pieces of the puzzle begin to fit together to uncover at least some (but not all) of the mystery. David Marquez' artwork bolsters the intensity of the action with robust dynamism and uses single panel shots of various characters to emphasis the violence. And it is violent, with Catwoman in particular displaying a vicious sadistic streak that suggests this tale might sit well outside any sort of continuity.

At this early stage the focus is more on the villains that the Bat, but having seen King delve deeply into the psyche of Bruce Wayne in recent times, this feels like a refreshing change of pace in his dalliances with Dark Knight.

MANIAC OF NEW YORK: THE BRONX IS BURNING #4

MANIAC OF NEW YORK: THE BRONX IS BURNING #4
Elliott Kalan, Andrea Mutti
Aftershock $4.99 (23/03/2022)

Jo: It's the final instalment of Volume II of Kalan's story of Maniac Harry and those seeking to end his reign of gory terror over the citizens of the Big Apple, and it's everything I'd hoped for. The set up for this story way back at the start of the first volume had me immediately captivated: opening with the local TV 'Rail, road and maniac report', suggesting that the activities of said maniac had become so commonplace, so normalised, that they were reported on like a traffic jam or a minor derailment. Here, the story reaches its close - or does it? - and the wrap-up is satisfying in every way. 

Harry (Is that his name? Or just what he intones as he goes about his horrifying business?) was last seen departing the red-tape-wrapped (and now blood spattered) public school and heading for a packed Yankee Stadium on a match day, pursued by guilt-ridden and dangerously vengeful Gina Greene and Detective Zelda Pettibone. No prizes for guessing what begins to occur as he finds his way into the crowd, but it's Kalan's observations of reactions to the horror which I have found really interesting throughout; the utter self-centredness of a human being with adrenaline rushing through their veins, the blind faith in systems of support, even when their failure is far beyond doubt, the bizarre need to keep the camera phone running when there is another human in blazing agony on the other side of the lens. 

Mutti's art brought me to this book and it's outstanding here again: the altercation Greene has been waiting for since her partner became Harry's first victim is both artistic and realistic together, the guts and gore of his attacks served in such a way that they are affecting and dramatic without ever being silly.

Kalan's writing is credible and original throughout, this has been a fantastic ride and I hope that this won't be the last we see of this story. 

BATMAN: THE KNIGHT #3

BATMAN: THE KNIGHT #3
Chip Zdarsky, Carmine Di Giandomenico, Ivan Plascencia
DC $4.99 (15/03/2022)

Matt: It's clearly a great time to be a Batman fan. Robert Pattinson's turn as the Dark Knight in Matt Reeves' The Batman has been receiving richly deserved praise and the aforementioned Batman: Killing Time has seen writer Tom King show he's far from out of ideas when it comes this 80-plus year-character. And then there's this, a ten-part look at Bruce Wayne's pre-Batman days, and how he journeyed from angry young man to Caped Crusader.

You may ask, haven't we seen this era of Wayne's life covered enough times before and hasn't everything that could be said about this period already been said? Zdarsky answers those questions with an emphatic "No!". This is shaping up to be an excellent series, perhaps the definitive telling of the origin of Batman for the modern age. This issue has teenage Bruce in Paris, being reluctantly tutored by a legendary cat burglar, while a serial killer on the loose has the enigmatic Henri Ducard step into the proceedings, crossing paths with the youngster for the first time.

Carmine Di Giandomenico perhaps doesn't always get the praise he thoroughly deserves, and he brings real energy and emotion when bringing Zdarsky's script to life. And as for Zdarsky, on the basis of the first three issues of this series alone, his recent appointment as the new writer for the ongoing Batman appears to be an incredibly smart move by DC. 

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