Buckle up. This is a weird one.
When Batman blacks out for an hour and comes to holding a socialite at knife point, he turns to Deadman for answers. Those answers involve a deal with the devil; Deadman’s evil, clown counterpart; and—ready?—saving the soul of a man fated to be, “The Second Coming,” from being sent to hell as a sacrifice to the devil. This may be the strangest Batman story I have ever read.
First off, let’s be clear: this is a Batman story. Deadman serves more as a supporting character than star. The strongest storytelling in Death and Glory comes when Robinson writes in the moment—Batman’s reactions to finding himself in an alien situation, characters racing against time, standoffs between the Caped Crusader and Jim Gordon. The more exposition-laden moments are mixed for me: they give John Estes’s art space to shine and become more abstract and imagistic without having to stay in a given narrative moment, but flipping a page and seeing a dozen or more expositional text boxes when dialogue had been quick and to the point so far is a shock.
And Estes’s art does shine here. His painted pages are rich in texture and command light. When things get strange (and during flashbacks) he mixes things up stylistically. Sometimes that means more abstract visuals and layouts; others, panels shift from painted to violently sketched. The net effect is something fleeting and dreamlike.
Batman/Deadman: Death and Glory has a lot going for it. Robinson is a talented writer, and Estes’s art for is something special. Despite that, I would recommend this almost as a curiosity. It is a strange Batman tale that I suspect a lot of readers would bump their heads on. Both the premise of having to save a pre-incarnate savior and the ease with which Batman accepts could be difficult to swallow. But if you’re a fan of the creators involved and looking for a deeper dive, then check it out.
- Batman/Deadman: Death and Glory
Writer: James Robinson | Artist: John Estes | Letterer: Todd Klein