Batman: Creature of the Night #2
Written by: Kurt Busiek
Art, Colors and Cover by: John Paul Leon
What a wonderful mini-series Creature of the Night is turning out to be. When the 1st issue came out there was not a lot of hype behind it, but it has been slowly building through online word of mouth. The boys over at WeirdScienceDC have proclaimed it their favorite book right now and many are hoping DC will extend it from 4 to possibly 6 issues. WeirdScienceDC’s praise of this book made me give it a try, and I am so glad I took their advice.
If you have no idea what happened in Issue #1, here’s a brief rundown of this new Elseworlds series. Huge Batman comic fan Bruce Wainwright loses his parents at a very young age to a house invasion and then must endure a difficult childhood as an orphan. Adding salt to the wound is that his only remaining family, his uncle Alfred, won’t even take him in. Bruce tries to solve his parent’s death by investigating it with the reluctant assistance of officer Gordon Hoover, but the investigation goes nowhere fast. Bruce becomes more tortured as time goes by and one night his unrelenting anger manifests a powerful supernatural bat creature into creation, who seemingly does his bidding and ends up catching his parent’s killers for him. After this success, Bruce decides to help solve other crimes and help bring other criminals to justice all over Boston. Yes, Boston – go with it.
Issue #2 picks up with Bruce becoming a financial and vigilante success as we watch him grow up and graduate from university and solve more crimes. Philanthropy becomes the next feather he wants to put in his cap and he begins to help other children who have been affected by crime through his company. When financial assistance is not enough in his own mind, he decides that these children who have been wronged, also need their own personal justice to feel whole again. Something is not right though, and unsettling details start to emerge in police discovery. It appears that not all of the criminals being brought to justice by Bruce and his supernatural bat are actually guilty and are the victims of bad circumstances, or even worse – being framed.
Kurt Busiek’s writing on both issues so far has been masterful with Issue #2 losing none of the momentum he built up in #Issue 1. Busiek has effortlessly built this Elseworlds Gotham-like reality in the dark corners of inner city Boston as he takes us on this familial journey. Busiek hints at the true antagonist very subtly, and while you may see what’s coming before it’s actually revealed, it does not diminish the conclusion of Issue #2. The motivation for why becomes the vehicle for those who have already guessed and Busiek hopes that the reader will be primed for Issue #3 – this reader definitely was. I seemed to breeze through the 60 pages much like I would binge a Netflix season of my favorite show and in this author’s mind that means the writer has done their job – they have pulled you in completely.
While I have waxed lyrical about the writing, the brilliance of this book is equally shared by the art. If Busiek’s writing pulled me in, John Paul Leon’s pencils made sure I never wanted to leave. His inks are a throwback to the golden age of comics, there is so much beautiful color. Leon’s use of shading and flat pastel inks are truly gorgeous and are complimented so well in this prestige glossy format. I was figuratively hypnotized.
If you were hesitant to pick up this book because you were put off by the cover price, don’t be – It’s 60 pages of sheer beauty and child like wonder.
With the very small exception of the narrated calligraphy, this book is such an effortless read but Todd Klein did such a wonderful job with the rest of the lettering I feel ashamed for even having mentioned it.
Batman: Creature of the Night is one of those books that you could easily dismiss and ignore in your local comic store and you would never know what you actually missed out on. A true diamond in the rough.