Writer: John Ridley
Artist: Laura Braga
Publisher: DC Comics
I am pleased to report that issue #2 seems to have right the wrongs of the debut issue in virtually every way. It opens up like something you would expect from a “Year One” or “Year Two” graphic novel. Batman is investigating the scene of a murder and he must use his detective skills to bring the perpetrator(s) to justice. However, this isn’t our Batman, it’s the Next Batman; which gives a nice insight into how this caped crusader thinks and operates. This is in no small part helped tremendously by the introspective monologues peppered throughout. We also finally get a tease into Tim’s motivation to be Batman.
The art this time around, courtesy of Laura Braga, is more striking and appropriately atmospheric, like if I’m actually watching a Batman movie. The comic manages to be visually bright and captivating. There is a small detail of one guy’s absolutely terrified expression through his thick goggles that says it all. As trivial as that was, it was greatly appreciated and accentuated the action to follow when Batman takes out pursuing armed cops. As mentioned before, it’s pretty reminiscent of that scene in Year One.
A segment is devoted to Ms. Fox’s scheme of using her legal prowess to help the Magistrate take down this new Batman and spree of masked thugs without much political backlash or legal scrutiny. It’s always been intriguing to see superheroes (especially vigilantes) actually go up against the legal system or see it twisted against them. However, her vehement vindictive vendetta against “masks” is borderline manic. I can see what Ridley is going with here, in that she will have to choose between her deeply entrenched grievances and the fact her family actively (at one point or another) had a hand in the Batman “problem”. Nevertheless, her goals and motivations are understandable and believable.
The issue wraps up nicely with Batman confronting the sympathetic assailants adding a nice shade of grey to the matter; a much better executed moral quandary (and darker plot) than the premiere issue had with the wannabe “Bane” kids. But that will have to wait as the manhunt for the Batman has come to a head again.
I’ll reiterate it again here, “The Next Batman” #2 feels like the pedigree this imprint deserves in every way; from art, execution, and story. So much so, I would recommend skipping the otherwise superfluous #1 issue entirely and starting here. I can only hope it keeps this momentum in #3.
Hailing from the eastern-most Caribbean island of Barbados, Fabian Wood has long since been fascinated by the power of storytelling to inspire and invoke emotions – whether in film, comics, or videogames. No longer content to be just an avid comic book reader and videogamer, he’s eager to exercise his literary acumen as an aspiring writer and reviewer.