Overview

Batman: 80-Page Giant #1

Review

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Batman: 80-Page Giant #1

Credits

  • Words: Kevin Grevioux, David Tischman, Mike Raicht, Peter Calloway, Ivory Madison, Simon Spurrier, Kevin Shinick, Steve Niles
  • Art: Grey, Alex Konat, Clayton Henry, Marcus To, Kat Rocha, Josh Finney, Chris Samnee, Rafa Garres, Stephanie Buscema
  • Inks: Nelson Asencio, Ray McCarthy, Saleem Crawford
  • Colors: Wes Dzioba, JD Smith, John Kalisz, Rafa Garres
  • Story Title: "Gotham Freezes Over!"
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Price: $5.99
  • Release Date: Dec 14, 2009

A bargain at the $5.99 price point,  Batman: 80-Page Giant #1 collects eight different stories from a variety of writers and artists, giving fans brief glimpses into the lives of several denizens of Gotham City. Because there are so many stories in this issue—all of which take place during a blizzard—the creative forces behind it were challenged to tell brief, self-contained tales at about ten pages each. In fact, one of the stories plays out on a single page. But, as William Shakespeare once said, “Brevity is the soul of wit.”

As a whole, this book is a must-read for Batman fans. It starts out strong with “Fire & Ice,” starring Batman (Dick Grayson) and Robin (Damian Wayne). In this story, writer Kevin Grevioux pits the Dark Knight and the Boy Wonder against a desperate father who, in the middle of a blizzard, is going on a crime spree with his son. The boy questions his father’s behavior, but Dad shrugs off his son’s criticisms with a simple lesson, “No one is going to give you anything in this world.” Meanwhile, we see Dick questioning whether he can teach Damian as well as Bruce Wayne taught him. The father/son juxtaposition works really well here, even though Dick’s anxiety about taking up the cowl is a recurring theme across Batman titles these days.

“Pure as the Driven Snow” by David Tischman and penciller Alex Konat, features Alfred Pennyworth taking a prostitute under his wing and turning her life around. It’s genuinely funny and sweet when it isn’t borderline creepy. In “The Hero of Orphan Alley,” three friends decide to create their own masked vigilante after reasoning that Batman is actually multiple people working together. Unfortunately, the group isn’t all that successful, especially when two of them run into a bloodthirsty Killer Croc. Because this story revolves around characters we aren’t emotionally invested in, it comes across as needlessly violent and harsh but the message is crystal clear: being Batman ain’t easy.

The most satisfying story in this winter-centric issue is “What Falls Below,” and not just because it focuses on a Batman villain with an affinity for snow days. It stars Commissioner Gordon, who braves the cold to track down Mr. Freeze.  Escaping police custody en route to Arkham Asylum, the icy villain has abandoned his cryogenic suit—which he needs to survive—to enjoy the relative freedom the blizzard permits him. The confrontation between Gordon and Freeze is powerful stuff, with Freeze making an unorthodox proposal: if Gordon lets him walk the streets freely, he’ll turn himself in when the storm is over. Yeah right, the reader thinks. 

“The idea of one less crazy out there working against us for a few days,” Gordon says. “It actually makes my body tingle. Then I realize it’s just hypothermia setting in.”

Three of the stories—starring Poison Ivy, Catwoman, and relative newcomer Veil—fall a bit flat. Ivory Madison’s Catwoman’s tale, called “No Two Alike,” is especially disappointing given the phenomenal artwork by Kat Rocha and Josh Finney. This is the one story in this issue that made me feel like I was missing something on my initial read-through. Or perhaps it just isn’t that interesting.

The issue is capped off with the aforementioned one-pager, called “Snow Patrol,” which is actually the most charming of the bunch. Written by Steve Niles with some quirky stylized artwork by Stephanie Buscema, this story—essentially a Sunday morning comic strip—accomplishes a great deal in just five panels.

While some of its stories lack the narrative punch necessary in this shorter format, Batman: 80-Page Giant  #1 successfully and entertainingly explores a Gotham City huddled against the winter cold without its true Caped Crusader.

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