Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Batman: Creature of the Night #4 Review

More Than Human

Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: John Paul Leon and Todd Klein
Cover Price: $5.99
Release Date: November 27, 2019

I really liked the first three issues of this book, but after such a long delay, I was worried it may not have that magical spark that it did for me when it began.  I really didn't expect this day to actually come, but let's jump in a see what Bruce Wainwright has been up to.

The issue opens with Bruce recovering from what appears to be a crazy office party and the reader finding out two years have passed since issue #3.  Whether that was originally planned or thrown in after the delay (which was closer to a year and a half), it felt like a sly wink and I liked it.  We then get a bit of recap of the last issue's ending that leads into Bruce's full disclosure to Alfred and Robin.  

We continue by seeing that while Bruce is out being Batman, he's also turned into a bit a slimy jerk who is just looking for a fight 24/7.  The big thing being pushed is that anything Bruce does is eventually taken care of by Batman.

After crossing a line, Bruce agrees to see a doctor but the idea of taken anti-depressants throws him off because he's afraid that means no Batman.  Busiek has done a great job in getting the reader behind a guy who has gotten more unlikeable as the story has progressed and worse yet, I felt like a piece of crap not really wanting him to get better since that would mean he wouldn't be Batman.  I'm not even sure that is the intention here, but it makes complete sense.  We all want Bruce to get over his parents' deaths and be happy...but we don't want to give Batman up as a result.

Moving on, we see that Bruce isn't thrilled with things as much as he is letting on and soon, Batman returns.  Batman returns and he brings some big-time paranoia with him.  It only gets worse as his life falls apart and he tries to unravel the case in his head before he unravels himself.  It is pretty damn tense and I actually couldn't decide if he was right or wrong and which one I was actually hoping for by the end.

As we get near the end, Busiek shows that Batman always needs a Robin and that Bruce Wayne can be saved by Batman as well.  It's a sad ending, even as we see that Bruce has gotten better by the end of the series.  Well, not really sad, but a bit bittersweet as we end the book with a hint that Batman is still watching over Bruce even as he struggles to keep him in check.

I really liked this issue, but more for the psych angle and what it says about being Batman.  While some rave that another writer has been giving us a human Batman, that one feels like a lame caricature of this one.  This Batman didn't have to face a naked Bane or a father from a dead timeline to be broken since we are all broken in one way or another, just more so than others.  While reading this issue and the entire series, the reader is put through the wringer of emotions and when we finally see a happy Bruce, we can almost let out a sigh of relief that nobody else will be hurt.  This story may have felt outlandish at times, but it ended up feeling real by the end.  As an aside, it almost felt like the delay made it all work better by the end.  Crazy, huh?

John Paul Leon's art really fit this story and I couldn't imagine this ending without him.  If you didn't know, the delays were due to Leon battling cancer and I sincerely hope he can kick it's ass and keep giving us art like this for years and years.  Yea, I am selfish like that!

Bits and Pieces:

This final issue of Batman: Creature of the Night was dark, heavy and really, really good.  If you expected a more upbeat ending, you haven't been paying attention, but if you really wanted to see the struggle of being Batman, this book is for you.  The story and art were great and I can't recommend it enough.


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