“The Black Bat” #1 from Brian Buccellato and Ronan Cliquet is a muddied start to an interesting character. The issue is chopped up with an uneasy origin mixed in with an opening case with a thin narrative. The creative team manages to slice it even thinner with jumbled moments and a lack of clarity, while major moments fall flat due to a lack of memorable characters surrounding the lead. However, the lead character is interesting and Ronan Cliquet’s art is very well suited to the mood of the piece.
This issue has some good moments but their impact is dulled through poor pacing. The opening five pages are mostly a wash as they present little character or narrative through a series of splashes and designed pages. These pages are pretty but they don’t kickstart the issue with the vigor they aim for. Once the issue does get rolling, much of the dialogue works hard to push plot points but none of it rolls off any tongues naturally. The issue is awkwardly fractured through time, which disjoints the reader and doesn’t allow for natural cohesion. The plot plods along and ends on a great beat in the last panel, but by then it might not be enough to save the issue.
Ronan Cliquet’s art is on par with some of the finer crime comics hitting stands today. He might not be on par with Tonci Zonjic or R.M. Guera, but it feels like he’s from a similar school. His characters are rough and sketchy in a way that makes you feel their presence. Many of his action sequences have a vitality on the page, though the page layouts sometimes rob this motion of its slickness. He delivers some fine moments centered around the lead’s eyes, which are pleasantly jarring.
“The Black Bat” #1 is a misfire of a start for this character and series. A pulp reboot of a character many will recognize as an antecedent for Daredevil should be a slam dunk, but this issue misses the hoop. Through disjointed storytelling, this issue loses a lot of its style and solid delivery. There is clearly a good idea buried underneath, and coupled with Cliquet’s art, it might be enough to lure people back, but it really should have hooked hard from the start instead.