Book Review: Batman, Black and White, Vol 1

I have to say that I was underwhelmed with the first Batman: Black and White collection as a whole. Maybe if I read each of them with time between them I’d appreciate them more. Generally, I really enjoy and appreciate vignettes, but I think that the stark contrast between each of the stories’ artwork just made everything all muddled. I’ll say that I skimmed and looked at ones by artists I knew or that grabbed me in the first few panels.

That being said, there were a few stories which I appreciated and really enjoyed:

“Two of a Kind” by the memorable Bruce Timm (Batman, the Animated Series) about Two-Face.

“The Devil’s Trumpet” by Jose Munoz and Archie Goodwin, which doesn’t even have an actual picture of Batman in the story, but is a lot about legends and curses, hinting at Batman’s potential demon-status.

“A Black and White World” by Neil Gaiman and Simon Bisley is somewhat of an Elseworlds tale, as it posits Batman and Joker as hired actors to star in a comic strip. I loved this and thought it was a brilliant take on a Truman Show type of concept. Excellent.

“Legend” by Walter Simonson transcends Batman’s time and has a Batman who exists in “the far future.” He still has the same legendary status, despite the year–more than that, he has reached the status of myth with hope attached to a hero long gone. It’s really very good.

“Good Evening, Midnight” by Klaus Janson is also very poignant–ironic and, I believe, rare for a Batman graphic novel. Janson is one of the minds behind the iconic The Dark Knight Returns, and I’d say he really understands Batman’s universe and Alfred’s care for Bruce Wayne. I feel like that’s a relationship often undervalued.

This collection was seriously hit or miss, and I either really loved a story or I hated it.


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