Overview

Batman: Gotham After Midnight #2

Review

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Batman: Gotham After Midnight #2

Credits

  • Words: Steve Niles
  • Art: Kelley Jones
  • Inks: Kelley Jones
  • Colors: Michelle Madsen
  • Story Title: Batman: May He Lye Still
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Jun 25, 2008

Classic foes have been changing their modus operandi and Batman seeks to find out why. A sinister criminal mastermind tries to rule the darkness in Batman: Gotham After Midnight.

After a very strong introductory issue, Steve Niles and Kelley Jones’ Batman epic starts to drag a little in the second. Following the stylistic format of The Long Halloween, Batman: Gotham After Midnight is a 12 issue maxi-series with a new villain in each chapter. Man-Bat is the culprit this time, and he has set about to steal an artifact from the Gotham Historical Society. As with the Scarecrow and Axe-Man in issue #1, Man-Bat's style and approach suggest to the Dark Knight that someone or something else is pulling the strings. We, of course, know that he is correct, as we are treated to another brief appearance by Midnight. I was hoping to learn more about his mysterious motives, but we are treated only to his malevolence as he dispatches one of his henchmen.

This episode was very frustrating, because it did not seem to advance the story beyond what we were introduced to in the opening issue. The basic plot and mystery remain the same, and the subplot with Detective Clarkson is advanced, but only marginally. Niles excels at the action/horror genre with linear plots, and he struggles a bit here with the mystery genre. It lacks a sprawling cast of suspects and web of subplots necessary to hold the readers’ interest for an entire year's worth of comics.

The creative team succeeds in creating a darker vision of Gotham City. Heavy blacks and deep shadows typify the highly stylized pages. As with last issue’s rendering of the Batmobile as a 1930s race-car, much of Jones' Gotham City feels "out of time," with steam engine trains, and creepy stone buildings reminiscent of Dickens' London. Michelle Madsen uses a surprisingly bright palette, with huge splashes of solid color to embellish the artwork. It yields a larger than life effect, transporting us into a sort of fantasy world where reds are bloodier, greens more lush, and bright purple night skies seem perfectly normal. It is within this world that Kelley Jones' interpretation of the Batman, with a greatly exaggerated muscle structure and a cape that takes on a life of its own, can move with the ferocity of a demon from hell.

My expectations for this series were very high after reading the first issue. Steve Niles created the proper atmosphere and laid a strong foundation for an epic Dark Knight Detective case with supernatural overtones. The second issue stumbles because it adds little to the mystery, and merely reiterates what we already got in the opening stanza. I hope the story unfolds more forcefully in coming issues because the concept and setting of the story are compelling and beautifully envisioned by the art team.

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