Bruce Wainwright has learned the truth of the old adage: Be careful what you wish for. Your Major Spoilers review of Batman: Creature Of The Night #4 awaits!
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: John Paul Leon
Colorist: John Paul Leon
Letterer: Todd Klein
Editor: Chris Conroy
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $5.99
Release Date: November 27, 2019
Previously in Batman: Creature Of The Night: Bruce Wainwright is not the man he believed himself to be. He never was. But when you’ve unleashed horror on the world… what can you do about it? Is Bruce human after all? Or has he become more than a man?
“IT’S ALL COMPLICATED…”
We open in Bruce Wainwright’s office which is a total wreck… but not for the usual crime-related reasons. Bruce has apparently been partying, leaving the place utterly trashed and his assistant Robin horrified. Of course, she’s already seen the most horrifying thing he can do, transforming into a bat-tulpa-creature that may or may not have the mind of his dead brother driving it. In fact, it’s such a terrifying visage that his Uncle Alfred suffered a heart attack at seeing him in action, leaving Bruce even more confused. Having “powers” should make things easier for him, after all. Every comic book says so. But every transformation leaves Bruce more and more lost and none of his efforts to fight crime or ave the day actually works, and his tendency to get drunk and pick fights leads only to jail-time. Bruce continues making mistakes trying to find the invisible hands behind all his woes, even hallucinating the comic book Bat-villains taunting him. He manages to visit a psychiatrist and get medication, but stops taking it, as he likens it to “killing” his “brother.” His anger builds into an unstoppable psychic storm that threatens to destroy Boston… and, frankly, Bruce doesn’t really want to stop it.
THE REASON BATMAN STORIES CAN’T HAVE A HAPPY ENDING
It’s been nearly two years since the first issue of this book (and more than fifteen since it was pitched, according to Busiek’s editorial in the back of this issue) and eight months since issue #3 and I have to say: I’m not at all upset about that wait. This book is beautifully rendered on every page, and the amount of emotion and range that Leon gives to his characters is incredible. The trippy scenes of Joker, Penguin and the other Arkham villains swirling around his head make it clear that Mister Wainwright is clearly suffering from mental illness, but also uses the existing visual language of comics to give it just the right edge of ambiguity. Busiek’s script plays with the notion of super-heroes in a real-world context in ways that most stories don’t, with Bruce’s search for an evil hand behind all his troubles being for naught and his attempts to “fight crime” failing. HIs vigilantism simply would not work in reality, which is why so many Bat-comics fall apart in their attempt to put in real-world issues into the books. Best of all, the ending is incredibly satisfying, proving that even if Tommy/Batman isn’t “real”, he is actually trying to keep his brother safe.
BOTTOM LINE: WORTH THE WAIT
As with so many stories that think outside the box, the delay in production is only an issue for those of us who tried to pick the book up off the stands, and not that the series and Batman: Creature of the Night #4 is complete, audiences will be able to read the whole collected story and see that it’s truly worthy of 5 out of 5 stars overall. If you’re a fan of Busiek’s work on ‘Astro City’, JP Leon’s complex, moody artwork or Batman stories that think outside the box of Joker/Harley/Ra’s Al Ghul, this book should be on your reading list. It’s a wonderful example of a realistic superhero comics that actually tackles reality as we know it.
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BATMAN: CREATURE OF THE NIGHT #4
This is a Batman done right, and should be as important as 'The Dark Knight Returns.'