REVIEW: Damon Lindelof & Jeff Lemire’s BATMAN: LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT: “THE BUTLER DID IT”

Cover by Ethan Van Sciver & Brian Miller

Batman: The Butler Did It

Written by Damon Lindelof
Art by Jeff Lemire
Color by Jose Villarrubia
Letter by Saida Temofonte
Cover by Ethan Van Sciver & Brian Miller of Hi-Fi Colour Design

$0.99 / 10 pages / Digital

Published by DC Comics

 

Over the next five weeks, DC Comics is releasing five chapters in a digital anthology called Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight. Exclusive to Comixology, this series of ten-page stories includes three one-shots, each by a different creative team, as well as a three-part serial by B. Clay Moore and Ben Templesmith.

Today we’re looking at “The Butler Did It,” by Damon Lindelof (Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk, Prometheus) and artist Jeff Lemire (Sweet Tooth, Essex County). That cover to the left is by Ethan Van Sciver, but the guts and the glory go to Lemire, whose signature rustic style is free to flourish. Would that this were a full-length graphic novel printed on heavy artisan paper as a testament to the man’s sublime cartooning, but no need to assess the gift horse’s gum. Instead, let’s celebrate this dark horse candidate in its stride to colt classic status.

[REDACTED: Another Paragraph of equestrian wordplay. What a night-mare.]

As ten-pagers go, “The Butler Did It” is a dandy proof of concept for grander projects from either artist, or, hopefully, some future collaborations from the same. Lindelof revisits the dark knight’s roots, luring Batman over the rooftops to a winged-rat’s-eye-view of the alley that bore him those many moonless nights ago. We can all set that classic scene. The damp pavement. The gun. The pearls. The downcast face of an anguished son, crystalized forever in a pool of street-light amber. But neither we nor Batman have to furnish the tableau, because it’s recreated for us in flesh and fabric and stone down in that very same alley. It’s not Thomas and Martha and Bruce and Chill, but an eerily similar configuration, replete with brandished pistol. As you can probably guess, Bruce doesn’t take this very well.

*process for a page from "The Butler Did It" drawn by Leff Lemire (Note: Finished pages appear in color)

It’s unfortunate that the title is more than a nod toward this fable’s resolution, so I won’t contribute any further spoilers. It’s a simple conceit that a few readers might find too simple for satisfaction’s sake. It’s also somewhat reminiscent of a section from Neil Gaiman’s decidedly polarizing Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader (a part and whole I very much enjoyed). But we do receive a complete story appropriate to its ten page scope, with wonderfully executed pages. Lindelof delights in writing Batman’s narrative boxes, smartly leaning to character study rather than puzzle box plot. For his part, Lemire delivers a bleak and rain-soaked Gotham and a young Batman, spry as he is grim and determined. It’s always refreshing to return to this nimble yet bull-headed Batman, afflicted with a youthful crusader’s hubris, much more human than the demigod he plays in the Watchtowers and vanguards of the Justice League. This was a special time in the dark knight’s career and were we able to shelve this story alongside Year One, that’d be the perfect place for it.

Pick up Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #1 “The Butler Did It” on Comixology.

*Process pages courtesy of Jeff Lemire’s Blog.

Story: 3.5 / Art: 4.5 / Overall: 4

(Out of 5 Stars)

 

Here’s the full schedule of digital Batman adventures from special guest Gothamists:

June 7 – “The Butler Did It” written by Damon Lindelof with artwork by Jeff Lemire
June 14 – “All of the Above” written by Jonathan Larsen with artwork by JG Jones
June 21– “The Crime Never Committed” written by Tom Taylor with artwork by Nicola Scott and Wayne Faucher
June 28 – “Crisis of Identity” Part 1 written by B. Clay Moore with artwork by Ben Templesmith
July 5 – “Crisis of Identity” Part 2 written by B. Clay Moore with artwork by Ben Templesmith
July 12 – “Crisis of Identity” Part 3 written by B. Clay Moore with artwork by Ben Templesmith

Comments

  1. Is there any information when it will be available to be purchased in my comic shop? I’m not against Digital, I just don’t own a fancy do-dad, and want to read this.

    • You can read it on a computer via the digital store.

    • I don’t think there are any plans for a print version at present. Often things like this will get a print release if they are popular enough (eg, the recent Beyond stuff,) but presumably this won’t unless it sells well in digital.

    • What Flan said. Its what i did until i invested in a fancy do-dad. I adore my Fire. It’s my exclusive Comixology reader.

    • Paul Montgomery Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

      I read it on a laptop.

    • Get a comfy chair and park it right in front of your pc or laptop, the whole experience is worth it. And I don’t think I’m alone in saying that some books (like Bachalo’s Wolverine and The X-men work) look even BETTER on a computer screen.

  2. Jeff Reid Jeff Reid (@JeffRReid) says:

    I was wondering if I should pick this up. I’m interested in seeing Lemire do some superhero art. Nice review, Paul.

    It was probably for the best that your third paragraph was redacted.

    • It’s worth it if you like Lemire. If you’re expecting a great story from Lindelof, you might be a little disappointed. The story was kind of goofy (I won’t go into detail to avoid spoilers) but overall I’d recommend it.

    • The story is non-continuity, reminded me a little of ‘Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader’, its fun. I think Paul’s grade is correct. The story is ok. The art is great

  3. Paul, you’re really bucking the trend recently, jockeying for article placement on the main page. But, you’re no foal, are you?

  4. My brain must not be wired right – that Lemire art looks AMAZING, while I find Van Sciver pedestrian. Yet whose famous for their art?

    Hopefully once Sweet Tooth is done DC will let him draw more. I really liked his Jonah Hex. A Batman book, or better yet Animal Man book drawn by Lemire would be great.

    I’m off to download this, probably won’t get the others until Templesmith

    • Paul Montgomery Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

      I wish DC would take more artistic chances as well. House styles are boring, especially with so many great talents out there.

    • Phew – not just me

    • I’ve never understood the idea of a “house-style” really. I get it from a branding perspective, to a certain degree, but if someone doesn’t like the way one book is illustrated, then they will also not like the way all of the books look. While it may be jarring to go from Lee to Templesmith, at least it stimulates your brain to process images differently which hopefully would excite the reader to dig deeper into the book. Nothing wrong with a straightforward superhero Lee style, but to make all of your books fit that mold seems to strengthen the idea that comics are just a genre and not a medium.

    • I am really looking forward to Templesmith. I chuckled when I saw Lemire’s Joker, I think I’ll have a giggle fit if Templesmith draws him.

      Seriously the page were Lemire drew the Bat-rogues brought a huge smile to my face. Those are unique characters and deserve to be rendered in a unique art style.

      Or maybe I like it because it’s not the norm so it looks so other worldly

    • Damn, I think I love you guys! Definitely don’t understand the house style. Nothing turns me off of a book quicker than super beefcake characters. I have a hard time even reading a Jim Lee book, and I get raked over the coals for not being psyched about his stuff. I think Lemire’s style, and others who are a bit “wonky”, are what this industry needs more of. I absolutely loved this story. Give me this version of Batman any day over what’s going on in Detective or The Dark Knight right now.

      I’ll probably be getting all of these, but I am looking most forward to the Templesmith issues.

    • Agree with all you guys. Lemire doing a nice creepy Scott Snyder arc would be great.

      Also, this comic was nice, glad I got it, but change the title.

    • I know, the title ruins it. Batman is thinking “who could be responsible for this trap?”, but the reader is thinking “what did Alfred do?”, we’re not invested in the same mystery. As Batman’s mystery begins, ours has been solved.

      A Snyder scripted/Lemire drawn Batman story is now the holy grail.

  5. Can’t wait for those B Clay Moore/Templesmith ones!

  6. That was .99 well spent. I like drunk Batman. I often feel the same way when I’m that drunk.

  7. This is my Pick of the Week, but I don’t see it on the iFanboy list. Am I just missing it? Lemire is just incredible on this.

    • No your not missing it. iFanboy doesn’t put digital only comics on the comic list for some reason. It really stinks to be honest there have been a few here and there I would have made PoTW but alas I guess digital only isn’t cool enough to make the cut in the iFanboy comic list section every week.

    • Not sure if it would be my PotW or not as I’m not done reading my stack, but it would definitely be in the running.

  8. That was a fun little story but some seriously wonderful art. Thanks for the reminder and link Paul! I remember being excited about the announcement but have not been following it. DC owes you part of my $0.99. Hope this sees print sometime.

  9. Digital finally hooked me in with this series. Loved this issue. I’ll be looking out for a trade or hardcover later. You reading this DC? Do it.

  10. Thanks for drawing my attention to this, I hand’t realised it was being done by such interesting creators!

    Bought it and loved it. Just wish they had used a different title for the story.

    • Agreed. Lindelof is certainly clever enough to think of a better title than that. Even a suggestion rather than a statement would have been better.

  11. I will not participate in the destruction of comic book culture by buying digital.

  12. I really like Lindelof as a person (used to listen his podcast) and as a Writer (in Lost and Hulk/wolverine). I like his writing, probably because I read the ultimate hulk story as a trade. 🙂
    Templesmith for me is a must buy, so I probably will be loving this series of dolar comic experience. Strange. Marvel called this “INFINITE COMICS”. DC just does it. Funny how things turn out.