Review – Batman: Urban Legends #18 – Tales of Gotham

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Batman: Urban Legends #18 variant cover, via DC Comics.

Batman: Urban Legends #18 – Brandon Thomas, Henry Barajas, Chris Burnham, Tini Howard/Blake M. Howard, Greg Hahn, Writers; Alberto Jimenez Albuquerque, Serg Acuna, Chris Burnham, Max Raynor, Mike Norton, Writers; John Kalisz, Dave McCaig, Nathan Fairbairn, Hi-Fi, Marissa Louise, Colorists

Ray – 9/10

Ray: Five new stories begin this month, focusing on an eclectic collection of heroes, villains, and supporting cast. So how do they shake out?

Credits. Via DC Comics.

First up is a return to Brandon Thomas’ Outsiders in “Signal and the Outsiders” with Alberto Jimenez Albuquerque on art. This is a full-length story, focusing on Duke’s new position with the Outsiders and a rotating hero—including Green Arrow and Mister Miracle this issue. But as Duke goes on one crazy mission after another, his obsession with finding and curing his mother starts to run him ragged as he becomes sleep-deprived and overly intense. Black Lightning and Batman step in for a mission that shows that despite his… lack of grace sometimes, Batman really does look out for his kids. It’s a strong follow-up to the excellent Bryan Hill series.

Return of the Outsiders. Via DC Comics.

“Blood in & Blood Out,” by Henry Barajas and Serg Acuna, is around ten pages and is a one-off fast-paced supernatural tale. When Bruce Wayne helps an archaeologist repatriate a sacred indigenous artifact back to Mexico after a brief Gotham exhibition, there’s just one problem—some of Etrigan’s old enemies show up to claim it first, and Batman and the Demon have to have a fiery team-up. This story calls in some old-school callbacks from Etrigan’s original series, and its main selling point is a constant barrage of over-the-top action.

Chris Burnham goes solo on an Alfred Pennyworth solo story that begins here, as Alfred goes antiquing and stumbles into a surprising conspiracy. When a bazaar owner is robbed of an artifact he didn’t even know was there, Alfred digs into the mystery and finds clues from an old woman, a violent collection of fishmongers, and everything in between. At some points it’s basically a classic Cozy Mystery, and other times it’s a no-holds-barred suspense thriller. Batman might not be wiling to be bothered, but this story makes me question who’s truly Gotham’s best detective.

“Night Terrors,” by the writing team of Tini and Blake Howard and artist Max Raynor, is a Tim Drake flashback story as the young Robin gets pulled into a creepy mission at Arkham Asylum. The villain of this done-in-one tale? None other than the infamous Dr. Destiny, who exploits Batman and Robin’s fears relentlessly. The story is maybe a bit rushed, but this tale takes place when the pain over Jason’s death is still raw, and it nicely addresses the way this must have loomed over Tim in the early years.

“Belle and Beau,” by Greg Hahn and Mike Norton, is the final tale and is the only one that doesn’t work for me. The story of two millennials working gig jobs that bring them into contact with supervillains, they scam them and rip them off in an elaborate Bonnie and Clyde pastiche. This done-in-one story really seems to be in the Mark Russell school of “Take that” and its obvious Martin Shkreli take-off is a little too on the nose to really work. There have been an odd number of comics lately with Batman deciding to let criminals go because he kind of agrees with their target.

Otherwise, though, we have four strong new stories in this issue, and one that might just be a masterpiece.

To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.

GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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