"Batman #38" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by DC Comics
Written by Tom King
Illustrated by Travis Moore
Colored by Giulia Brusco
2017, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on January 3rd, 2018
It's easy to imagine a little kid wanting to grow up to be Batman. He's got all kinds of cool gadgets, a sweet car, and an awesome cave that has, among other things, a big dinosaur and a giant penny. But what if a child didn't long to become the Dark Knight and instead wanted to become his alter ego, Bruce Wayne? Sure, he lives in the lap of luxury, but there's tragedy in his past with the death of his parents. Little Mattie finds himself going through the same hard times that Bruce did as a child, although his life takes a very different turn.
You might ask yourself why I'm writing about a Batman comic her on HorrorTalk. It's because this is not your average Caped Crusader story. It's very much a horror story. That becomes evident the farther you get into this standalone tale, culminating in a horrifying finale that creates a new and twisted potential villain in Batman's ever-expanding rogues gallery.
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Batman #38 flows like a good murder mystery. The reader is figuring things out at the same pace as Batman, slowly putting the pieces together to figure out who is responsible for the death of Mattie's parents. At first, it looks like it was Zsasz, the murderer who cuts himself with every new kill, then it looks like it could have been Two-Face. The Caped Crusader is quick to hunt down the clues and look for answers in a way that only he can.
This is a dark book, not just due to Giulia Brusco's colors, which give the comic a moody, shadow-filled tone. There are multiple horrific murders, each more unsettling than the last. Artist Travis Moore drives home the cold, emotionless acts of violence perpetrated here. The victims' vacant eyes stare upward as if searching for any glimmer of hope before they shuffle off this mortal coil.
The issue moves at a brisk pace, as writer Tom King drops these clues quickly and efficiently. We move along as Batman puts the puzzle together until revealing the actual culprit in such a fantastic yet disturbing move. I don't want to spoil any of it here because it's just too good, especially for horror fans. Suffice it to say, it is something that will stick with you for some time. It shows how Batman can affect people both in and out of costume and do so both positively and negatively. This is an example of that effect in the worst possible outcome.
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As with most of King's books, there's a great flow to the dialogue. You can get lost in the speech as it effortlessly guides you through the story. It works like a great conversation, pulling you in and keeping your attention with every sentence. Every word serves to move the plot forward, even little details like Batman assembling the clues in his mind.
Batman already has one of, if not the best rogues galleries in comics. This issue adds another potential villain to the mix that is more chilling than most of the bad guys in that lineup. And yes, I understand that there's a guy in there literally called Mr. Freeze. You know I didn't mean chilling in that sense. Anyway, this is something that could give Batman pause, forcing him to rethink his actions both as a crime-fighting vigilante and as a billionaire playboy.