DC’s been putting out an anthology miniseries as of late, the revival of the old Batman Black and White series. What this series does is collect a series of short original stories from very talented creators that focus on, well, primarily Batman. I will be reviewing each separate story as a singular entity rather than all of them at once as a whole product. I will say this though: this is probably the first issue of the six-issue miniseries that has been extremely solid all around, as opposed to a mixed bag of stories that feel either rushed or like labors of love.
Rule Number One by Lee Bermejo
Lee Bermejo writes and illustrates this tale of Dick Grayson’s training as Robin, yet also focuses on the underlying subtext of the rules of the vigilante business. Bermejo’s art is steeped in hyper-detailed realism that almost looks like marble figures and his writing isn’t half bad either as he captures the voices of the characters displayed extremely well. It’s fast-paced, humorous, and keeps the tradition of early years-Batman tales being the best Batman tales. 4.5/5
Hall of Mirrors by Damion Scott
Damion Scott writes and also illustrates this story, which has Batman going through a hall of mirrors reflecting on his life as a vigilante and the villains he’s created and his sense of justice. It’s an interesting tale that purveys the grey areas of the vigilante business, and how justice isn’t always so black and white. It’s not the deepest story but it takes a strong approach towards exploring the reflections of Batman upon his world. Scott’s art is arguably the stronger part of the story, evoking Darwyn Cooke with a fractured, twisted kind of element added to it. The art even dips into some surrealist aspects too. 4/5
An Innocent Man by Marv Wolfman and Riccardo Burchielli
Marv Wolfman’s story is another Batman/Joker tale but it’s one that really threw me for a loop. The whole setup is that Joker’s been playing this game with Batman for five years and I won’t delve any further into spoiler-territory but it was absolutely nuts. After a couple of weak villains-month issues, Wolfman is back in top form, delivering a real twister of a tale that goes off the curve. Wolfman really captures the core fundamentals of Batman and the Joker, and why they do what they do. The art by Burchielli is jagged and raw and has a gritty, noir-type atmosphere. 4.5/5
Namtab: Babel Comes to Gotham by Rian Hughes
This is the story that ties for absolute best of the issue along with Paul Dini’s story. Rian Hughes writes and illustrates this with wit, verve and imagination, harkening back to the silver age of comics to tell an outlandish science fiction tale whilst taking notes from Morrison and Waid and breaking not just the story, but even the writing down to its basest of elements. The artwork is a mishmash of decade’s worth of material, combining the stylization of Cooke with the experimental qualities of the silver age and the eerie tones of an old sci-fi story. Absolutely perfect. 5/5
Role Models by Paul Dini and Stéphane Roux
I love Batman: the Animated Series. It’s my absolute favorite Batman-centric cartoon and one of my top five cartoons in general. So every time I see Paul Dini’s name on a comic book, I get excited, because I know it’s going to end up being really freaking good. And Role Models was exactly that: really freaking good. Paul Dini captures the essence and voice of each of the three featured characters perfectly. His banter between Harley, Ivy and Bats is absolutely wonderful and the man knows how to write a Batman story. It essentially plays out like a darker episode of BTAS. StéphaneRoux’s art almost encapsulates the look of the series as well but has its own unique tone to keep things fresh. Yet another perfect Paul Dini Batman story. 5/5
As a collection/anthology of stories from various mainstream and non-mainstream creators, Batman Black and White #3 is a refresher course on the brand of Batman, providing a unique, outsider perspective you most likely wouldn’t see from the ongoing titles.