Batman: Urban Legends #13 – Vita Ayala, Ram V, Mohale Mashigo, Mark Russell, Writers; Nikola Cizmesija, Anand RK, Arist Deyn, Karl Mostert, Artists; Nick Filardi, John Pearson, Trish Mulvihill, Colorists
Ray – 8.5/10
Ray: This month, four stories continue—and two reach their dramatic conclusions.
First up is the halfway chapter of the Batman/Zatanna story written by Vita Ayala, which now has a new wrinkle in the mix—John Constantine. The caustic mage unbalances Zatanna and enrages Batman, but he may be their best chance to figure out the source of the magical disturbance they’ve spent years trying to lock down. The banter in this issue is a lot of fun, but there’s also a larger plot simmering behind the surface. The story of a possessed everyman turned massive threat is compelling, although the story gets a little too bogged down in mystical jargon at times and distracts from the excellent character work.
Next up is the finale of the Ram V/Anand RK Wight Witch story, picking up from her plot in Catwoman. This has been one of the best stories ever published in this anthology, and that continues in a big way in this last chapter. Rhea, the young soldier turned living weapon under the experiments of Simon Saint, has turned into a fantastic character and her surprising bond with Ghost-Maker adds a lot of layers to both of them. The final scenes here, as she finally breaks free of her programming and takes the fight back to where it started, deliver a massive gut punch and a brilliant final scene. Hopefully V will get to work with this character again.
The Mashigo/Deyn Eternity story has been the oddest fit in this book, a supernatural murder mystery starring a young crime scene investigator who can talk to the dead. This final chapter doesn’t really change that, as the mystery of the death of one of his neighbors takes several bizarre twists in only ten pages. The way he solves the mystery—or so it seems—is pretty clever, but one more reveal comes out of nowhere and ends the book on a very strange note. This feels more like an experiment than anything, but the creative team did a good job.
Finally, Russell and Mostert reunite to continue the tale of Ace the Bat-Hound and his surprisingly ruthless new super-team of animals. The villain Tarkov, a Soviet-era war criminal turned underworld magnate, has successfully captured Batman and plans to auction him off—amid some failed attempts to remove his mask. At the same time, Ace leads his motley crew of trained and altered animals on a mission to rescue him. This story could have easily been a one-note wacky animal story, but there’s a surprising amount of pathos and darkness in it. This could have easily been its own stand-alone series, and I hope it gets collected so more people can read one of DC’s oddest—and best—current stories.
Overall, a solid package and it’ll be interesting to see what two new stories join us next time.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.