Batman: Black and White #5 – Jorge Jimenez, Lee Weeks, Mariko Tamaki, Kieron Gillen, Jamal Campbell, Writers; Jorge Jimenez, Lee Weeks, Emanuela Lupacchino/Wade Von Grawbadger, Jamie McKelvie, Jamal Campbell, Artists
Ray – 9/10
Ray: For the fifth issue of this anthology, DC brings us a host of new talents, including three writer-artists—and one of the most legendary creative teams in modern comics.
First up is Jorge Jimenez, current Bat-artist making his solo writing debut on “A Father-Son Outing.” Set during happier times, it focuses on Bruce and Damian as they plan for an operation against a collection of Gotham mob bosses. While Batman has an elaborate plan to ambush them, Damian wants to know why they don’t just jump in and beat them up. This leads to a very effective description of how Batman’s methods work to create a long-lasting fear in Gotham’s crime scene—as well as a hilarious conclusion that shows how Damian has a long way to go.
Next up, frequent Tom King collaborator Lee Weeks—of the legendary Batman/Elmer Fudd crossover—tells a story focusing on Jim Gordon. It’s hard to tell a full mystery in less than ten pages, but Weeks is an old hand and he lets us do a lot of the work. The twisty tale centers around the Bat-signal, but also involves an aging Jim Gordon and a long-standing regret dealing with a thirty-year-old case. The ending comes a little abruptly, but the last scene between Gordon and Batman ends it on a good note.
Current ‘Tec writer Mariko Tamaki and veteran DC artist Emanuela Lupacchino team up next, on a surprising story focusing on a neglected character in DC history—Gilda Dent. She played a major role in the Loeb/Sale library, but since then she’s mostly been neglected. Tamaki gives her a starring role as the center of a revenge story and one that jumps back and forth between her life with Harvey pre-Two-Face and the current, impending wedding of a D-list villain. Lots of surprises here, and Lupacchino’s art looks amazing in black and white.
Next up are arguably the main attraction—Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, the creators of some of comics’ most iconic modern runs at the competition and Image. Naturally, they’re not going to have a standard story. Instead, we get a wild choose-your-own-adventure tale of Batman vs. the Riddler and Killer Croc. With a lot of dark humor as Batman meets his end in colorful (not literally) ways, it’s unlike anything else there’s been in this comic and a testament to the chaotic genius of these creators.
Finally, it’s Jamal Campbell’s turn to bring down the curtain on this issue, as the usually glossy Far Sector artist takes a shot at minimalism. But minimalism is a weird way to put it, as his art is still brilliantly detailed. The story is slight, but effective—a tale of Dick Grayson as Nightwing, soaring the Gotham skies and reminiscing on his strange, chaotic time since that night at the circus. With a powerful coda that comes full circle and shows the impact of the Bats, it proves you don’t need an ambitious concept for a story to deliver an emotional punch.
Once again, a near-perfect issue of excellent stand-alone tales.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.