Review: BATMAN #4


Written by Tom King
Art by David Finch, Sandra Hope, Matt Banning, Jordie Bellaire
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: August 3, 2016

Gotham’s filled with violence and death, with new heroes Gotham and Gotham Girl at the center of everything. Can they be trusted yet, or are they the most dangerous pair to enter Gotham City in a long time?

A similar eerie vibe to what King builds in Vision can be found in Batman #4, as the series takes a very dark turn. This issue is full of violence and darkness, with King showing he’s not going to shy away from the dark underbelly of Gotham. King’s got an interesting dynamic with Gotham and Gotham Girl, as he’s essentially got a rogue, unstable Superman rampaging through the streets trying to fix everything. There’s an inherent amount of danger in that Batman is outclassed from a power perspective and King does a solid job making sure there is an extreme amount of tension at all points in this issue. The tension is the strongest part of this comic, even though there are some uneven moments with Batman.

Batman has an interaction with a prominent DC character, for example, that is simultaneously very Batman, and not Batman at all. How the interaction comes to be is totally Batman and made me smile. Everything that occurred after that, the dialogue between the pair, was utterly vexing as a Batman interaction. At multiple points in this issue Batman appears as a spectator, and somewhat bewildered, compared to his usual calm and in control demeanor. King is a great writer and I’m sure what I’m perceiving is for a reason, but in this issue it comes across as inconsistent.

David Finch handles the dark tone of this issue nicely, and this is some of the best artwork I’ve seen from Finch in awhile. The inking by Hope and Banning suits the pencils well and softens some of what I often find harsh in Finch’s artwork. Bellaire’s colour work is rock solid, finishing the artwork off and setting the visual mood and tone of the issue nicely. The darkest moments of this comic hit the mark because of her work, and when you look at these pages you see a masterful colour artist at work.

The lettering in the issue threw me at points, and is something that has confused me since the first issue of this run. For every character in the book, the style used patterns itself like something a reader would typically see from the Joker or a deranged villain. The uneven letters and atypical spacing is unique, but does not fit each character well. I found throughout the issue the style and its poor fit for the actual text in the balloons disengaged me from the story. I’m all for some stylized lettering, it can be a powerful aspect of the storytelling, but in the case of Batman so far, it’s been a detractor from the tale being told.

Batman #4 isn’t the strongest issue of the series thus far, but if King, Finch, Hope, Banning and Bellaire stick the landing for the arc it will be a solid chapter in the story. The plot is interesting and the team executes the intensity and tension of the situation well, and if the inconsistencies in the characters are fixed this will be one hell of a series going forward. I’ll definitely be reading more Batman to see where this team takes this story and the Dark Knight.

The Verdict: 7.5/10


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