Art by: Mathew Dow Smith and Jordie Bellaire
Cover Price: $0.99
Release Date: July 2, 2015
I usually start out my reviews by telling y'all my general feelings about the book and a little recap of the last issue. It feels a bit odd to do both here since I reviewed the last issue yesterday. That usually means that I was lazy and waited a month or so to review the last issue and finally got it done in the eleventh hour, but not this time. Nope, this book is being released daily. I guess weekly books weren't good enough for DC, huh? I joke because I care...care about the DC Digital First line of books which is partly why I'm reviewing this book in the first place. Someone has to spread the word, but it makes it so much easier (and pleasurable) when a book is as good as this one. While last issue was mostly setup, I liked everything that J.M. DeMatteis gave us and along with Mathew Dow Smith's excellent artwork, this book went from not being on my radar (thanks mainly to DC's lack of support) to being a must read. I know that's a lot of praise to heap on one digital issue, but I really liked it. Is the second issue as good or better? Let's find out...
Last issue ended with Kirk Langstrom taking on the mantle of the Batman. Well, he didn't really have the name yet, but this issue opens with a great couple of pages that show how he got it. Through newspaper headlines and Kirk's own narration we learn that he's been pretty busy since we last saw him. He's left a trail of bodies in his wake, but in a "Dexter" move, only kills the scumbags who deserve it. He's been using the criminals of Gotham as appetizers, but now he's ready for the main course...Crime Lord, Lew Moxon.
J.M. DeMatteis continues giving readers what is essentially a horror comic. It's dark and bloody and scratches an itch that I didn't really know I had. If you have listened to our podcast (that is a hint to go HERE), you will already know that I really don't like horror comics. I guess I'll have to include "until now" in that sentence from now on because I'm enjoying the hell out of this.
Before Moxon gets what is coming to him, J.M. DeMatteis has to show us how bad a guy he is and believe me, you find out he is a real scumbag. In a good move, we also see that everyone around him is just as bad. Enter Batman to "clean up" and we have ourselves a fun albeit by-the-numbers issue, right? Wrong.
While most writers would be fine just ending the issue here, DeMatteis keeps going by showing the ramifications of Langstrom's actions. It actually seems that he does this more for Langstrom than for the reader, if that makes any sense. All this time, Kirk has been convincing himself that what he is doing is right, that nothing good could come from these scumbags he's been killing. Then he sees Moxon's family and it throws his excuse out the window. I don't want to spoil too much, but believe me when I tell you that it's a great bit of philosophical storytelling that caught me by surprise.
Of course, we need a good cliffhanger to get us to come back for the next issue and we get a doozy. It involves an awesome guest star and if you didn't believe me that this is a horror comic, you will now. If I were Kirk, I'd be very afraid for my family right now.
I'm sure it's obvious, but I love this comic. It is so different from anything that DC is putting out right now. If you are looking for a dark, mature horror comic that happens to have batman as the lead, this book is for you.
Whoever picked Mathew Dow Smith to do the art in this book should get a raise. His style is perfect for this type of story and this one in particular. Like DeMatteis' script, nothing is held back and because of that, we get a bloody great looking comic.
Bits and Pieces:
I really liked the first issue in this three part story, but this issue was even better. Kirk Langstrom is not the typical hero, but this is not a typical story. It's a dark and bloody horror comic that has me questioning why I never liked these kind of comics in the past. Damn you, DeMatteis. Damn you and Mathew Dow Smith for making such a great comic. Damn you and thank you. i can't wait for the finale!