Batman Legends of Gotham #1
Criminals have hacked Batman's list of superhero weaknesses and are auctioning the information to the highest bidder. Can Katana, Red Hood, and Black Lightning usurp the list before every world power is brought down?
Andy Diggle uses this one shot to walk the tightrope slung between introspective character work and high-octane action, and although there are a few clunky bits of dialogue jangling here or there, he largely succeeds. This is a writer who understands exactly who Red Hood is, what he wants, and what his motivations are — even when the people who ought to be closest to him so often do not — and that’s a trait that would make this story compelling reading all by itself.
This one shot appears to be intended to set up a new series. It introduces an interesting team (of morally ambiguous characters who hate each other to greater or lesser degrees), provides them with a goal that can extend beyond the boundaries of the book, and introduces a new, powerful villain designed to occupy the place recently vacated by Tom Taylor’s Bendix. But the story can and does function as a totally self-contained story on its own merit. Personally, I hope that there’s more, but if there isn’t, what we have is forty-odd pages of fun, well-plotted action.
The pacing of this story was masterfully done. We flow organically from the Bat Cave to an underground criminal auction. After the auction, we have a chase scene, a space station fight, and a strong conclusion. A lesser writer would have stumbled, either rushing to the conclusion or drowning in either character or exposition, but Diggle manages to create a story that reads as cleanly as a full arc but which occupies half the space.
There was some fun (spot-on) digs at end-stage capitalism embedded in the flesh of this story that really elevated the writing for me, specifically the language the giant evil corporation computer used to talk to the soon-to-be vaporized human henchmen. That was the perfect blend of nihilistic fun for this variety of story.
Karl Mostert’s art is clean and perfectly suited for the story it’s telling. His action scenes are narratively clear and well structured, and his characters act naturally in ways that inform the viewer of their inner lives. Romulo Fajardo Jr’s colors contribute a great deal to the lucidity of the story. It’s difficult to use a dark palette without generating a panel that’s too muddy to read, but Fajardo Jr manages it. The art in this story is strikingly good.
This is a well-paced one shot, packed with action, introspection, and a compelling plot. I hope that there's much more to come.
Batman Legends of Gotham #1: Red Robin
- Writing - 9/109/10
- Storyline - 9/109/10
- Art - 9.5/109.5/10
- Color - 9.5/109.5/10
- Cover Art - 9.5/109.5/10
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