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.
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