Twelve issues after their first encounter, Batman and Frankenstein come back together, this time on the edge of the former site of Nanda Parbat in “Batman and Frankenstein” #31 from writer Peter J. Tomasi and artist Doug Mahnke. Following their last meeting, Frankenstein has a bone to pick with Batman and does just that early on in this issue — and even Titus can’t stop him.
I’ve been enjoying the pseudo-“Brave and the Bold” revival that this series has delivered. “Batman and Frankenstein” #31 continues that streak, bringing an unusual team-up filled with opportunities for Tomasi to expose the personalities of both characters in a setting that doesn’t overwhelm the reader. Since this story is set in the Himalayas, Tomasi is able to continue the globetrotting adventures of the Dark Knight, taking Batman out of his element. That doesn’t quite elevate this issue to a Bob Haney-inspired session of oddities and excitement, but it does give Tomasi a chance to recap Batman’s journey thus far while Frankenstein acts as a seasoned sounding board. The duo have a chance to fight alongside each other following their initial scrap, and Tomasi gives readers a tasty sample of what two of DC’s most experienced warriors could do together.
If Pat Gleason can’t be onboard to draw Frankenstein, there is no other artist I’d rather see take that task than Doug Mahnke, the man responsible for Frankenstein’s current appearance in the DC Universe. Christian Alamy and Keith Champagne are as tight on the inks as they always are for Mahnke, giving “Batman and Frankenstein” #31 plenty of deep, rich blacks and texture over Mahnke’s line work. John Kalisz jumps all over the opportunity to color Frankenstein again and even tints the flesh around Frankenstein’s staples and sutures to indicate irritation and decay. Carlos M. Mangual’s lettering is crisp and well-placed, working in concert with Mahnke’s art. Mahnke masterfully constructs every panel to accommodate the letters and colors nicely, making this a full-fledged team effort. His range of expressions (or, rather, limited range) for Frankenstein transmits so much about the character while giving readers plenty to absorb.
Just when this issue really gets rolling, the Tomasi and Mahnke leave readers with a cliffhanger — albeit, a gorgeous looking page with great art from Mahnke, fine colors from Kalisz and subtly powerful lettering from Mangual — but it is a cliffhanger nonetheless. Batman’s quest to deliver Robin to his final resting place has been continuing on for quite some time. It looks like it has a few more steps to in its own journey. Apparently, Frankenstein will be joining him for at least part of one more issue. I just hope Tomasi remembers to invite Mahnke back for the adventure.