Dynamite continues to bring back old pulp heroes this month with The Black Bat #1. Having never heard of the Black Bat before, I was curious to see just what this character is all about. Is this issue a worthwhile introduction to The Black Bat? Major Spoilers finds out!
Previously in The Black Bat: This is an all-new introduction to the character, therefore we start with a clean slate.
I READ IT, THEN REREAD IT, THEN READ IT AGAIN
Black Bat #1 starts well enough, providing a nice, noir-like voice over accompanied by our hero fighting a gang of thugs. Unfortunately, the rest is a bit of a jumbled mess, jumping from the present to past and back, even changing narrators briefly, all without any reasoning or indication given. This is the beginning of an origin tale but it’s told with so little cohesion that I still don’t have a grasp on just who the Black Bat is and what his motivations are. Before writing a review, I’ll reread a book to make sure I have a good understanding of what occurred. With this issue, I not only reread it but also read it a third time as well, with the first two read-throughs requiring me to flip back pages to clarify what was happening. We learn that Tony was once a lawyer who had no problem defending criminals, had a noble father and at some point angered the wrong people, resulting in the loss of his eyes. At some point someone, and it’s not revealed whom, gave him a new set, black in color, allowing him to see in the dark. None of this is very clear as the story jumps from different points in time, multiple times. We know Tony narrates most of the issue because his dialogue boxes are black, but at one point they change to yellow, indicating a new narrator. Not only was it unclear who this new narrator was (until a second read-through), but also as to why the brief change. Near the end, when the story continues in the present, we’re given a caption: Now. The use of a similar caption earlier in the story, either stating past or giving a reference of time, would have helped clear matters up some.
Not everything is bad though. The tone is suitably dark for the kind of character Black Bat appears to be and the action is, for the most part, written well. It’s also pretty violent, if you’re into that sort of thing. I loved the part where Black Bat fights Brute in the dark, breaking the hulking man’s back and his description to a thug on the ease of scooping out an eye had me squirming. As a first issue though, it’s a poor introduction, leaving the uninitiated reader not with an understanding of the Black Bat, but rather questions as to why this character matters enough to have his own book.
ONE THING IS NOT LIKE THE OTHER
I believe Matthew has stated that books published by Dynamite Entertainment generally fall into the trap of having art that doesn’t match the quality of the cover. I purchased the J. Scott Campbell cover, unknowingly until I looked (I’m not used to him drawing something other than scantily clad women) and was given interior art that didn’t match. I don’t expect interior work to look exactly like the cover, but do want the quality to be on par. Ronan Cliquet’s work isn’t bad, it just didn’t have much appeal. He draws everything well enough, providing dark, moody atmosphere and well-choreographed action but none of it jumped of the page. Much of the coloring is drab and, while it’s use is understandable, unfortunately works against the art leaving it with a flat appearance. Again, fine work but it just didn’t grab me or leave a lasting impression.
BOTTOM LINE: FAULTY START
I was really looking forward to The Black Bat #1. The character looked cool and I’ve enjoyed most of the pulp characters Dynamite has been reintroducing. Unfortunately, The Black Bat is hampered by poor storytelling leaving more frustration than desire to read further. The artwork doesn’t help much, unable to hook the reader. I might check out the second issue just to see how he gets that cool costume and those guns but at $3.99, that’s a hard sell. Hopefully, this was just a faulty start. The Black Bat #1 earns 1.5 out of 5 stars.
DID YOU READ THIS ISSUE? RATE IT!