Batman #659


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Batman #659


  • Words: John Ostrander
  • Art: Tom Mandrake
  • Inks: Tom Mandrake
  • Colors: Nathan Eyring
  • Story Title: Grotesk, Part 1
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Nov 29, 2006

A vicious vigilante stalks the streets of Gotham City lighting people on fire. Can Batman figure out who he is and why he does what he does?

Of course he can. He is the World’s Greatest Detective after all. Before this issue begins, two men have already been burned alive. Within the first few pages, a third falls to this gruesome fate. Batman uses disguises, forensics, and good old fashioned detective skills to get to the bottom of it. On top of that, he battles Russian gangsters outside of Leslie Thompkins’ clinic and faces a villain who, like most of Batman’s rogues gallery, has an appropriate name: Grotesk.

John Ostrander gives his readers a Batman who is the detective he is supposed to be. Using his investigation skills, his clue gathering, and his ability to piece together what are seemingly coincidences, Ostrander’s Batman proves that his analytical mind is still his greatest weapon. Additionally, the new villain, Grotesk, with his hunched over, gangly frame, scarred face, and wicked flame thrower hand is a villain just creepy enough to maybe find his way into a permanent slot in Batman’s rogues gallery. Not only is he horrifying, but the fact that he believes he is doing the right thing makes him all the more dangerous. Tie in the mysteries at the clinic and the burnt alive businessmen who were involved in creating a "cybernetic robotic interface" that could act as "a surgeon’s hands even if he were miles away" and you have a Batman story with a classic feel any fan can appreciate.

It is easier to appreciate, I must admit, with Tom Mandrake helming the art. His hard, dark, sometimes sketchy style is a good fit for Batman, particularly a story involving a villain as grotesque as Grotesk (come on, you knew I was going to go there). Mandrake’s ability to turn the negative space into art is also a plus. I am particularly impressed by the panel outlines, which must be attributed, I would assume, to Nathan Eyring’s coloring as well as Mandrake’s distinct, seemingly made to draw the Caped Crusader, art.

Yes, these two men are filling in for Grant Morrison and Andy Kubert, so you may be inclined to look the other way for a few issues. If you really like Batman however, I would suggest giving it a try. The story is interesting, the art is well done, and Grotesk might just be a long term player in the Batman mythos.

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