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Batman (DC Comics, 1940; #582-586)

It’s actually impossible to go so long without talking about a Batman comic. Dude’s in a bunch of books. But this time, Ed Brubaker is behind the script.

When a friend dies while working on a caper that the Penguin helped to facilitate, Bruce Wayne and Batman declare war on Oswald Cobblepot. Batman goes after all Penguin’s operations, no matter how small; Bruce buys the Penguin’s newly renovated headquarters to evict him. It’s not only about fighting crime: it’s personal vengeance.

Brubaker’s take on Batman stands in stark contrast with today’s iteration of the character. If anything, he nods to the Animated Series’s Batman. His Caped Crusader is not the loner who pushes his allies away when things get dangerous. He doesn’t simply wear Bruce Wayne as a facade. And he isn’t calm, cool, and collected. Not only does his vendetta go far enough to merit an eventual scolding from Jim Gordon, but it serves as an overreaction to his own failure. He blames himself for not saving his friend. Brubaker is not explicit about this, but his talent for monologue and character voice make the case without having to say it outright.

Reinforcing the book’s animated influences, Scott McDaniel and Karl Story’s chunky, stylized line work brings a cartoony quality to the table. The art doesn’t ape the look of the Animated Series, but the exaggerated action and expressions do. As does Roberta Tewes’s saturated color palette.

It’s easy to read this arc of Batman with the cartoon’s voices in mind. I like that, because it makes a new story instantly familiar. But instead of relying on that familiarity, Brubaker writes a Batman who is more complex—and more fallible. His own humanity is the focus of this story, and as a result he’s strangely sympathetic. I don’t think this is what someone might expect from a writer who is typically so dark writing a character who lives in the shadows, but this book is better for that subversion. I definitely think it’s worth a read.

Collected in

  • Batman by Ed Brubaker, Vol. 1 (#582-586, 591-597, Batman: Our Worlds at War #1)


Writer: Ed Brubaker | Penciller: Scott McDaniel | Inker: Karl Story with John Lowe (586) | Letterer: John Costanza | Colorist: Roberta Tewes | Separations: Wildstorm FX | Assistant Editors: Frank Berrios, Joseph Illidge, Michael Wright | Editor: Bob Schreck

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