Comic Review: Batman: Reptilian #1 (DC Comics)

Gotham City is known for housing a slew of criminals and monsters that strike fear in all who roam its streets. Batman has always been the bogeyman of these monsters, […]

Gotham City is known for housing a slew of criminals and monsters that strike fear in all who roam its streets.

Batman has always been the bogeyman of these monsters, but this time, something else has the criminal element in fear. Something is killing the Batman’s rogues gallery, and it’s only a matter of time until they’re all dead. Who is causing all of this and why? Can Batman solve this mystery before he becomes part of the menu?

Garth Ennis writing a Batman book is something not many would think could happen, especially after so many years since he last worked with DC on titles such as his iconic Hellblazer, Preacher, and Hitman titles. Whether you love or hate his work, his ability to write stories on characters with a unique perspective is a craft that can’t be ignored, and this book is no exception! As soon as the first page appears, Ennis goes right for the punch, literally. The story is a murder mystery drenched in bits of horror as Batman investigates the death of two rogues caused by an unknown assailant. It’s gripping, and atmospheric, where everything feels like it will fall apart at the drop of a dime. And given that this is a stand-alone story, this leaves room for Ennis to do whatever he likes for the sake of the story, which makes it all the more enjoyable. His take on Batman is interesting and is one that hasn’t been seen in a long time.

Batman is intimidating, never seen in a heroic light, always drenched in shadow, but has a sharp, witty sense of dry humor that gives him personality. It’s very much Batman, but more intimidating and eerie as this Batman isn’t opposed to striking fear in the heart of the criminal element any chance he can get. And no, this isn’t some edge lord take on Batman, thankfully. This is a Batman story that feels as though it could easily take place in the world of David Fincher’s Seven (1995). Ennis nails Batman’s mythic nature as a boogeyman to the criminal element while maintaining the fact that he’s just a man. Of the many characters that Ennis has written, this Batman might be the most interesting that he has ever graced his writing with.

Liam Sharp combines everything that he learned during his Green Lantern run with Grant Morrison and goes for an atmospheric style that can only be compared to the likes of Dave Mckean. He is a versatile artist, and even though this book is a standalone book, it feels like it could easily fit into the world of Morrison and Mckean’s Arkham Asylum. Gotham looks scummy, always in a foggy haze, and all of the characters and their designs range from terrifying to visually abstract in the best ways possible, that haven’t been seen since Arkham Asylum.

Seeing a book like this again reminds me of the late 80 to mid-90s, where artists such as Simon Bisley, Sam Keith, Kelley Jones, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Dave Mckean would break the rules of what comics should look like, giving readers a visual experience that made comics worthwhile as a medium. It harkens to a time where comics weren’t always beholden to the house style, where everything and any character can be depicted however the writer & artist deemed fit for the story that they’re aiming to tell.

Sharp really delivers in visually creating a world that feels mythic, and nightmarishly lived in, giving Gotham as much character as the players within it. His sequential work is well done and shows that Sharp has more to offer as a penciler and colorist than ever before. Rob Steen’s lettering is tight and seamlessly weaves the art and writing together, providing a great reading experience. If this is any indication, this is a great start to this six-issue mini-series and is a worthwhile book to pick up. It has two powerhouse talents, and a fantastic start to an interesting murder mystery that is worth adding to your pull list.

Anthony Andujar Jr.

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