Batman: Black and White #6 – Brandon Thomas, Pierre Colinet/Elsa Charretier, Nick Derington, John Arcudi, Scott Snyder, Writers; Khary Randolph, Elsa Charretier, Nick Derington, James Harren, John Romita Jr/Klaus Janson, Artists
Ray – 9.5/10
Ray: It’s the final installment of this Batman-centric anthology, and we’ve got five more stories from elite creative teams—including one of the biggest pairings yet.
First up, it’s Brandon Thomas and Khary Randolph on a tale that introduces a pair of promising new characters to Gotham—Nathan and Michael Rook. Two young African-American brothers from the Hill area of Gotham, they build a second Bat-signal to alert Batman to a crisis of kidnappings in their neighborhood—an area where Batman rarely patrols. It’s a strong Mad Hatter tale, but it’s also a good look at the blind spots of Batman’s mission and a nice follow-up to the classic Priest tale set in this neighborhood.
Next up are Pierre Colinet and Elsa Chattetier on a story told from the perspective of three citizens of Gotham. All three were saved by Batman, and all have very different perspectives of him—a hero, a maniac, and an inhuman monster. The art here really carries the story, showing these perspectives in vivid detail, and the manipulations of Hugo Strange are compelling and creepy. This is a good villain-centric story, because it shows us how these character work when they’re playing against more vulnerable targets than Batman.
Next up, Nick Derington returns to the world of Batman for a solo writer-artist showcase. This is fascinating, because it gives us virtually no context and just plunges us into a particularly terrifying night in Batman’s life. On the trail of a kidnapped boy, he must invade the lair of the Chessmen Blanc, a mysterious cult of Chess-themed warriors. As he fights his way through armies of themed warriors to the boy, the truth about the child’s identity is revealed with a dark twist. And Derington’s art is brilliantly detailed even in black and white.
The Rumble creative team of John Arcudi and James Harren reunites on the next story, and to no one’s surprise, it’s a creature-feature. It starts with a dark scene of girls being kidnapped off the streets of Gotham, but one of these girls is not like the other. The idea of Harren drawing a Clayface story is so perfect that I can’t believe I didn’t think of it until now. This version is a nice balance of Tynion’s more heroic Clayface and a Shakespearean madman, and the monster effects here are among the best art in the series.
Finally, it wouldn’t be a Batman spotlight without the return of Scott Snyder, and he partners with John Romita Jr on the grand finale. But surprisingly, there’s very little Batman in this story. Instead, it’s the poignant tale of an old man, a photographer who took photos of Batman for the GCPD and has been nicknamed “Shutterbat”. As he looks back on a long life, he wonders who the true Batman really is and seeks to meet him one last time. It reminds me a little of the classic book Marvels by Busiek and Ross, and it’s an exceptional finish to both this run and Snyder’s time on the Bat-books.
All in all, a near flawless issue and a phenomenal series destined to be a classic.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.