Batman: Gotham County Line (3 stars)

Steve Niles, Scott Hampton & Jose Villarrubia

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(DC/Titan)

SUPERHERO

Location. Location. Location. Or how to bring a neat twist to Batman by sending him to the ‘burbs. Asked to investigate a spate of mysterious killings in Gotham City’s suburbs by a retired Commissioner Gordon, the story shifts from Manhunter-esque serial killer plot to a journey into the world of the undead.

Niles’ zombies-with-a-grudge is an appealing concept but Hampton’s artwork and Villarrubia’s colouring is the real star of this graphic novel. Bold and bloody it draws a fine line between conveying the horror of the zombies (and handful of murders, actually) without descending into gore.

There are some nice touches at play: new transport for our hero, the return of some old friends and a strong motivation for the zombie’s hatred of ol’ Bats. But you can’t help but feel that the book’s conclusion is compromised by Niles’ efforts to justify it all without disrupting continuity. Interesting but not essential.

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