Batman: The Audio Adventures Special #1 – Dennis McNicholas, Bobby Moynihan, Heidi Gardner, Paul Scheer, Ike Barinholtz, Writers; Leonardo Romero/Rich Ellis, Anthony Marques/J.Bone, German Peralta, Emma Kubert/Roberto PGGIJon Mikel, Jacob Edgar, Juni Ba, Derec Donovan, Jesus Hervas, Artists; Mike Spicer, David Stewart, Kristian Rossi, Hi-Fi, Nick Filardi, Rex Lokus, David Baron, Colorists
Ray – 8.5/10
Ray: This is probably the most unusual giant-sized special out of DC yet, a tie-in to the podcast featuring Jeffrey Wright as the voice of Batman. I’ve never heard any of the podcast, so I’m coming in blind. How does this compare to other versions of Batman? All stories are written or co-written by series mastermind Dennis McNicholas, but with a variety of co-writers and artists. So let’s get into this!
The first story, featuring Leonardo Romero on art, is actually spread out through the entire book. It features news anchor Jack Ryder, one of Gotham’s more benevolent crazy residents, hosting a newscast as the criminal elements of Gotham keep pulling him into the action. It sets the tone nicely for the many stories to come.
“A Better Mousetrap,” with Anthony Marques on art, gives Batman the spotlight. As Batman chases the Blind Mice Gang, one of many original villains in this version of Gotham, he reflects on his decision to become a special consultant for the GCPD and give up his independence as a vigilante. It’s an interesting status quo for Gotham—deciding to work within the law to try to clean up the law, as we see him take on corrupt officers even before he’s official with the GCPD. This Batman seems familiar, but there are some fundamental differences here.
After another brief Ryder interlude, German Peralta takes over on art to introduce us to a new villain—King Scimitar. A humble Eastern European peasant who comes to Gotham dreaming of a life of crime and easy money, the brute soon finds out he’s henchman material at most—and he needs a gimmick. That comes back to him in the form of his traditional cultural sword—a brutish weapon that stands out for how simple and to the point it is. This is a pretty intriguing new villain who I wouldn’t mind seeing make the jump to the main books.
Emma Kubert pencils the next story, a Catwoman tale that pits her against the Blind Mice Gang in a unique caper. What starts as a standard heist turns into something very different when she discovers that a rival gangster’s daughter has been kidnapped by the Mice. She has to decide to do the right thing, to stick to the plan and leave the girl to her fate—or to take a third path? This is a very different world and a very different Catwoman, and while she’s still the most human of Gotham’s villains, things aren’t always so clear-cut.
Bobby Moynihan is the co-writer on the next story, drawn by Jon Mikel, and it’s an odd one. A popular musician named Stoveplate Sullivan is beginning a residency at the Iceberg Lounge, but he may have gotten more than he bargained for. The Penguin, here a deranged eccentric who has a little in common with the famous Burton/DeVito version, likes to make sure his talent knows who’s in charge and he has some dark leverage. This is a twisted story with a disturbing amount of animal abuse, and the new character of Sullivan isn’t really established well here.
Heidi Gardner co-writes and Jacob Edgar draws a Riddler story featuring another new character—Miss Tuesday, the Riddler’s right-hand-woman. Or rather, girl—apparently the only person Riddler listens to is a pre-teen snarker who admires his unique approach to crime and tries to keep him on the right track. It’s not going great, as the imprisoned Riddler has turned Arkham into a bizarre treasure hunt. The banter here is top-notch, and I love this new character and her oddball bond with one of Gotham’s smartest villains. I’d read a whole series of these two.
The Robin story features Paul Scheer as co-writer and Juni Ba on art, and this one packs a lot of story into ten pages. Dick and his friends (whose names are clever Easter eggs) are getting into some mischief, but when they encounter a bizarre biker who tries to get them hooked on some Halloween-themed pills, the story takes a serious turn. Given how prominent Scarecrow is right now, it’s good to see an old-school tale with him, and there are a few clever and surprising twists in this short, along with some creepy visuals.
Ike Barinholtz is on co-writer duty with Derec Donovan on art for a Two-Face story, and this one gets inside Harvey’s head and the way he makes decisions better than any I’ve seen in a while. Making him the POV character goes a long way towards humanizing him and driving home why Batman is never quite able to give up on him. The art is strong, and this errs on the less-grotesque side when depicting his deformity. I always appreciate having some more wild cards in Gotham, and this depiction as well as the Riddler one reminds me a lot of B:TAS.
One last Jack Ryder segment and a creepy two-page Joker segment with art by Jesus Hervas wrap this up, giving us an interesting look at a very different Gotham. Even now knowing much about this universe, I’m intrigued to learn more and this one-shot sold me.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.