Pick of the Week

Pick of the Week – 10.03.2012 – Legends of the Dark Knight #1

What did the
iFanboy
community think?

273
Pulls
Avg Rating: 4.6
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 21.1%
 
Users who pulled this comic:
Written by Damon Lindelof, Jonathan Larsen, & Tom Taylor
Art by Jeff Lemire, J.G. Jones, Nicola Scott, & Wayne Faucher
Cover by Ethan Van Sciver
Variant Cover by Stephen Platt

Size: 40 pages
Price: 3.99

From 1989 to 2007, DC Comics published Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, a series that consisted of mostly out-of-continuity story arcs written and drawn by creators both new and unknown and veteran and high profile. In 1996, DC Comics published Batman: Black and White, a four issue mini-series of stories featuring black and white art produced by some of the best and well-known creators in comics at that time. (Batman: Black and White lived on as back-up stories in the first forty-nine issues of Batman: Gotham Knights.)

Combine those two books and you’ve got the newest Batman series, Legends of the Dark Knight.

Legends of the Dark Knight #1 is the paper version that collects the entire first three stories that were first published digitally in short weekly chapters. And they’re all fantastic.

Kicking off the issue, and probably my favorite of the bunch, is a tale written by Damon Lindelof with art by Jeff Lemire. Entitled “The Butler Did It,” the first story is a fun little tale about a young Bruce Wayne (only three months into his career as Batman) testing the limits of his endurance and vulnerability. In only 10 pages it manages to pack in laughs (drunk Bruce is very funny), thrills, and some heart ache. Short stories are difficult and Lindelof, who is famous for Lost and the new Star Trek movies, can flat out craft a story. You know who else can flat out craft a story? Jeff Lemire. Though these days he’s probably most well known as the writer of such DC books as Animal Man and Justice League Dark, Lemire is also one of he finest and most evocative artists in comics as shown in DC’s Sweet Tooth and his fine indie work like The Essex County Trilogy and The Underwater Welder. Though Lemire was able to draw an issue of Jonah Hex a few years ago, I never though I’d see his art capture any DC superheroes because DC doesn’t tend to allow much experimentation in the art for their superhero stories. I guess that Legends of the Dark Knight is enough of a boutique book to allow Lemire to draw Batman and the world is better for it.

Next up in “All of the Above,” Batman is just minding his own business on the Justice League satellite, enjoying a nice cup of… coffee? tea? hot coco? when Amazo attacks. In this 10 page story, Batman decides not to activate his Justice League signal device to call for help and instead uses his wits to defeat the unstoppable cyborg programmed with the combined powers of his fellow heroes. “All of the Above” is written by newcomer Jonathan Larson and features some of the best art I’ve seen in a while from J.G. Jones. It’s a story that features a classic structure: show the hero in seemingly insurmountable peril, flashback to the before the trouble, and then show him outwit the bad guy. In that sense, it’s a quintessential Batman in the context of the Justice League story where is often physically over-matched, facing off against villains who might trade punches with Superman, and therefore must uses his brains as much as his brawn to not end up a floating and frozen corpse in space. Now here’s the most interesting thing about Legends of the Dark Knight, and it’s something that I did not realize until I was most of the way through reading “All of the Above.” This series takes place in the old DC Universe. That’s right—everyone who misses the old DCU take note: this series takes place in the land where it’s okay for superheroes to wear their underwear on the outside. And this was point was driven home by…

The third and final story, “The Crime Never Committed” is a wonderful little ten page morality tale by writer Tom Taylor (Wait, isn’t he the main character in The Unwritten?) and featuring art by the always excellent Nicola Scott. Here Batman and Robin put the old saw that says an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure to the test when they— waitaminute. That Robin is not Damian Wayne. That’s Tim Drake in his first Robin costume! More on that in a minute. In this story, Batman analyzes some peculiar purchases made on the credit card of a newly fired employee of the Gotham City Aquarium to suss out that a robbery is about to go down. (Remember kids, Big Brother Batman is ALWAYS WATCHING.) Batman and Robin confront the neophyte criminal the night before he plans to bring a shotgun and a ski mask to his old job and lay out for him all the ways in which trying to rob his old job is a bad idea. I liked seeing the softer side of Batman and Robin here. This guy isn’t a criminal, he’s just desperate after having lost his job, and instead of punching him into submission, the Dynamic Duo decides that it’s more prudent to engage in a bit of counseling to stop a life of crime before it starts. Anyone who reads Earth 2 knows just how fantastic Nicola Scott’s art is on that book and it’s no different here. She excels at making her characters distinctive and having them convey emotion through their facial expressions, and her Robin looks like a young teenager and not a tiny adult. I know from interviewing her that Scott likes drawing team books, because of the many interesting dynamics they provide, but if she ever wanted to spend some time drawing a Batman book that would be mighty fine with me.

Now let’s get back to the fact that these stories take place in the old DC Universe. Considering how committed DC Comics is to The New 52, I find that absolutely fascinating. Now, granted, one would assume that telling out-of-continuity stories means that they can take place in any time frame and anywhere. They could conceivably take place in The New 52 or the old DCU or in the Silver Age or, I dunno, in Victorian England. But in the past, books like Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight and Batman: Black and White told (mostly) out-of-continuity stories but, to the best of my recollection, they all took place in the DCU of that time. I’m not saying this means anything, I just find it interesting. Regardless of what it all means, or doesn’t mean, if you are the kind of person who misses the old DCU then you might want to check this book out. Sure, it’s mostly just Batman and Robin but there is a glimpse of the Justice League in the second story and maybe just seeing them all for a second will be like catching sight of an ex you still pine for across a crowded street.

Me? I just want good stories, no matter where they take place, and those in Legends of the Dark Knight #1 were some damn good short stories that featured some across the board fantastic art.

Conor Kilpatrick
More of this, please.
conor@ifanboy.com

Comments

  1. This book felt a lot like ‘Batman: Black and White’. Just a collection of great, short stories with some brilliant talent involved. I know this was all originally published online separately but it makes me wish we could have another go around with ‘Black and White’. Batman seems to be the best character to do short stories.

    This was almost my POTW but I made another Batman book that distinction with ‘Detective Comics’. Great first issue for Layman and Fabok and I think it could be the start for a great run on that sagging series.

    • Also, I think Damon Lindelof should get some slack as a comic writer. Yes, ‘Ultimate Hulk vs Wolverine’ was delayed on his watch. But that is a great mini when it was finished and his short stories on random projects have been outstanding. They usually outshine anything else involved in a single issue.

  2. Seconded on every point, Conor. I missed these digitally & I like the idea of getting them out there in floppies. And yessiree, Nicola Scott is da bomb. (btw, it’s “Tommy” Taylor in Unwritten 😉 )

  3. I’ve been buying these digitally and loving them. Just wait till you see the Ben Templesmith drawn arc by B. Clay Moore. It’s a wonderful little Batman story.

  4. I’ve been getting the series via digital download on my phone. The whole series has been incredibly strong, and totally worth the price.

  5. I didn’t grab this, but I have been reading them weekly on Comixology. This has been some great Batman. There are some fantastic stories coming up!

  6. Bought this because of the iFanboy “Light week?” recommendation. So good! Loved seeing Tim Drake as Robin again. More please.

  7. None of DC’s digital first series are set in the new 52. Smallville and Ame-comi are in there own universe as well. I really liked LODK #1. The big draw for me was Jeff Lemire. With the $3.99 price tag I was expecting to get 4-10 page stories though. Seeing as how they are $.99 a piece digitally.

  8. You guys missed the pick of the week which was the Parker / Hardman Batman mini comic two weeks ago! Insane art. Will these ever appear on pull lists in the comics section?

  9. I’m not sure how I missed this. Sounds fantastic.

  10. Parri (@pazzatron) says:

    This looks great.

    Anyone know if they’re going to release this collected edition/issue digitally? I’d like to catch up on these but nine mini issues at 69p each is much more than a single hit of £3.99.

    • This issue only has three stories (which are 99¢/69p each on the app), so if the print comic is £3.99, you can get the same content digitally for £2.07. That’s a pretty sweet deal, and you can get the stories that haven’t been printed yet!

    • Parri (@pazzatron) says:

      Thanks, Ken. Seeing in this review that it collects the first three “stories” I headed to Comixology to see issues 1, 2 & 3 with the same cover. From that I assumed each story was made of three issues and that this collection of three stories comprised of issues 1-9.

      If that’s not the case it looks like I’m off to get me a sweet deal…

    • Some of them are mini 3 ‘issue’ arcs, some are standalone tales. I think on the whole the stand alone ones have been by far the strongest and with the best art.

  11. I’m sorry do we really need a new Batman book wealready have six. Do a new Superman or a Robin series but not another Bats its starting to be like X men in the 90’s every month theres a new Bat title.

    • It’s not really a new Batman book it’s a digital series that they collect way after the fact that it has been published. And it’s totally outside continuity. No Owls!!! YES.

  12. I miss the old DCU – I am picking this up

  13. I’m surprised that this is the pick of the week. It was just okay for me. The first story was written alright but the art wasn’t very good. The second and third stories both had decent writing and good art. I’m not sure if I’ll be back for more issues of this.

  14. alright, you convinced me, I’m getting this digitally.

  15. Long time Batman fan. But new to digital comics. Question. Each story is said to be only 10 pages. Yet on comixology each story is listed as having 23 or 24 pages. Are the rest ads?

  16. This title has been so much fun. I read it weekly via its digital release and its some of the most fun Batman stories I have ever read. The fact that you don’t get bogged down with all the continuity gives the creators so much freedom to just entertain us.

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