This should more honestly be called “Blackest Night: Batman & Robin & Deadman” #1, but it’s understandable why DC went with the abbreviated title. Then again, if they don’t tap into that Boston Brand fanbase, does this comic have a chance to succeed in this tight-economy marketplace?
What’s that you say? The “Blackest Night” what now? Oh, right, the Geoff Johns-masterminded mega-event that’s sweeping the local comic shops like a zombie tsunami. Yeah, that’s what’s going to get readers to crack open this comic.
And what will they find? Just about what they might expect: black rings zooming around, reanimated bodies popping up from the ground, general concern building to extreme panic. Plus the new Batman and Robin dynamic with the cool and collected Dick Grayson contrasted with the snotty and defiant Damian. And a whole lot o’ Deadman, unadvertised on the cover. (Unless you get the symbolism of the skeletal version of Boston Brand piercing the spine of Batman to mean that Deadman’s going to hang out with the dynamic duo for most of the issue — then I guess you’ll just fold your arms and huff, “I knew it!”)
This issue isn’t perfect. The art seems pretty raw in places (the third page overall, a few panels of Batman’s face that look awkward elsewhere), but I’m not sure how much that’s Ardian Syaf’s pencils or the inks of John Dell and Vicente Cifuentes. The pages look better as you get deeper into the issue, so maybe it took a while for Syaf to get comfortable with the characters. Or maybe one of the inkers just does a better job then the other. I don’t know, and it doesn’t really matter who gets the blame. The issue looks sloppy at times, and at other times it looks highly illustrative. Nei Ruffino uses too many highlights — too many bright colors in general — for the skin tones, but the coloring is a suitable, sickly hue overall. That’s probably a good choice for a comic about characters like Magpie and the Ventriloquist coming back from the dead as Black Lanterns.
This is a first issue of a three-part story, and there’s not much here beyond the set up. Dead rise. The three heroes get drawn into the badness. And we can only imagine it’s going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better.
“Blackest Night: Batman” isn’t as strong as Peter Tomasi’s other “Blackest Night” crossover this week (“Green Lantern Corps” #39), but it’s a fine supplement to the big Geoff Johns event. It’s Black. It’s Night. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it takes the storyline seriously. It works. But it’s nothing special.