Batman Black & White Volume 3
Usually at home as a simple back-up slot in the monthly Batman: Gotham Knights, Batman Black & White has taken on a life of its own and has quickly become a jewel in the crown of DC’s myriad caped crusader titles. A creative playground for various artists and writers to muck around with the concept, its short format (stories run at eight pages) with no ties to continuity leads to an easy air of creative freedom. So we get broad comedy through to gritty urban noir, with just one proviso: the story needs to be in black and white. This leads to some leaps of imagination and often far more humour than the average Bat-book. The scattershot effect works perfectly; if one story sucks, simply move on to the next. And fortunately, as with the previous two compilations, the quality far outshines the dross.
Some of the biggest names in comics are onboard with many writers taking the b&w format as a jumping-off point to accentuate the darkness and moral judgements inherent in Batman’s world of crime and punishment. Kicked off by Frank Miller’s exemplary cover art, highlights include Mark Schultz’ tale of desperate last resorts (‘The Call’); the wham bam of Doug Alexander and Rob Haynes’ silent entry (‘Punchline’); a subtly uplifting story from Alex Garland and artist Sean Philips (‘Sunrise’); and a twisted study of addiction from Geoff Johns (‘Fear is the Key’). This volume is reassuringly entertaining, diverse and fast-paced.