Batman: Creature of the Night #3 – Kurt Busiek, Writer; John Paul Leon, Artist
Ray – 10/10
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: After an almost four-month wait since the second issue of this Elseworlds miniseries, Batman: Creature of the Night #3 finally arrives to continue the story and it doesn’t miss a beat in what’s becoming one of the all-time best stand-alone comics DC has put out. When we last left off, Bruce Wainwright’s strange symbiotic relationship with the supernatural Batman had begun to attract the attention of the police as the vigilante tore its way through the city’s criminal element. Even Officer Gordon, a friend of Bruce’s since he was a boy, is beginning to suspect him. The issue is narrated alternately by Bruce’s Uncle Alfred, fellow crime victim Robin, and Bruce himself, as it covers the decline of crime in the city and Bruce’s slowly unraveling mental state. The Batman seems to become less controllable, and more feral. However, Bruce starts to notice that even as he removes certain criminal elements from the table, things don’t necessarily get better.
One frequent theme in this series is that life is not a comic book, and solutions that work there, and seem like they’ll work to a child, can often have terrible consequences in the real world. However, the issue also starts to explore the question of what Batman actually is, as Bruce discovers a secret from his family’s distant past – one that could shed light on who and what Batman actually is. This is ultimately a “Boy and his guardian monster” story that continues once the boy grows up, with disturbing consequences. An investigation into political corruption leads Bruce and Batman down multiple paths before it exposes a shocking betrayal that shatters most of Bruce’s faith in the system and leads him to lose control of Batman, to the point where the dark protector doesn’t even trust those closest to Bruce. The final issue (and hopefully it’ll be sooner in coming than this one) has a lot to resolve, but if it sticks the landing, it’ll be an evergreen classic that DC will sell for years to come.
Corrina: This is how you know a writer is brilliant. When you do not see a character or plot moment coming at all, and then when you reflect, you realize you should have seen it coming after all.
That’s what reading this story is like. It uses familiar elements of the Batman mythos but puts them together in unexpected ways, but ways that always make sense for the character and the story Busiek and Leon are telling. The inclusion of the lost twin, Thomas Wayne, as a partial explanation for Batman (maybe?) is perfect, as is Bruce’s quest into the supernatural to sort out why he’s being haunted/helped by the Batman creature.
And, then, just as it looks like Bruce is coming to terms with his rage and growing out of his obsession, the betrayal happens and it all goes dark again, especially with Alfred’s collapse. I desperately want this lost boy and the people who care about him to have a good ending but I fear that may not happen.
And the images! The way Leon creates and dissolves the Batman, the way the panels are broken down to show Bruce’s slow loss of hope at the end….
You must read this.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.