I am not sure why Batman works so well for me when presented sans color, but it does and so I was very excited when DC announced that Batman: Black and White would be returning after a nearly 25-year absence from comic shop shelves.
Of course, with any classic title returning after a lengthy absence there were doubts that perhaps it would not live up to the lofty expectations of its predecessor, particularly for an six-issue prestige anthology series. I was relieved to discover that for the most part, the first issue could only be considered a success with even the worst story of the bunch giving something interesting for the reader to enjoy.
The highlight for me, and I am sure for many others as well, was the story by Paul Dini and Andy Kubert titled “First Flight”. The artwork is absolutely lush and without colors splashed all over the art, almost pops off of the page. This story alone was worth the price of admission but there were five other stories to enjoy as well, some stronger than others but all using the colorless format to their advantage.
“The Demon’s Fist” highlights some incredibly smooth and fluid artwork by Tradd Moore that looks like classic trippy Ditko cranked up to 11. J.H. Williams gives us “Weight” and is the one story this issue that begs to be seen in the printed comic where the two-page spreads can really be enjoyed by the reader.
“Metamorphosis” by G. Willow Wilson and Greg Smallwood is the closest to what can be considered a ‘standard’ Batman story plot-wise with a somewhat straightforward tale but the way Greg draws Batman really tickles my fancy. He goes old-school with his appearance and, combined with the lack of color, gives this a grounded old school feel that was appreciated among the somewhat wilder style of the other stories.
Overall Batman: Black and White #1 can only be considered a success with its excellent artwork and production values, this is not a book to pick up for the stories (sorry writers) but for the amazing art. The fact that some of the stories are rather good is only icing on the cake and you can be sure I will be in for all six issues of this series and hope DC doesn’t wait another 25 years to give us more.
Batman: Black and White #1 of 6
DC Comics – $5.99