“Corporate Raider” from writer Gregg Hurwtiz and artist Ethan Van Sciver hits “Batman: The Dark Knight” #28 and brings along a whole lot of Man-Bat. The catch here is that Kirk Langstrom claims the Man-Bat causing problems in Gotham City isn’t him, so who is it?
Hurwitz doesn’t string readers along, choosing instead to lay out all of the clues right from the start of this comic book. Just as readers have seen Thomas Wayne take a spin under Batman’s cowl, now Hurwitz and Van Sciver present a different Man-Bat with familial ties to Kirk Langstrom. The writer does spell out the connections for readers, but gives enough of a lead to piece things together before the big reveal. That doesn’t diminish the reveal in any capacity, as Hurwitz takes measures to ensure this new Man-Bat is every bit the threat he needs to be in order to challenge Batman.
Van Sciver pours excruciating detail into his interpretation of Man-Bat. Batman’s opposite number (as Alfred considers him) is hulking and hairy, grotesque and gruesome. This character is every bit the big screen scary monster he should be, thanks to Van Sciver. The artist doesn’t sacrifice any details or storytelling in any of the scenes where Man-Bat is present, choosing to detail the buildings and other scenery, which makes the threat that much more menacing. Van Sciver does, however, deliver some less dramatic panels elsewhere, however, like the entire page dedicated to Abraham Langstrom strutting through the halls of his office. Backgrounds in some other spots are left to Hi-Fi, who is more than up to the task to visually collaborate with Van Sciver. Dezi Sienty’s letters hit the mark nicely, sliding between situations and characters on demand. Man-Bat’s transformation affect the caption boxes surrounding his alter ego prior to the change and add an extra layer of creepy to an already unsettling opponent.
Alfred confesses to Batman that of all of his foes, Man-Bat terrifies Alfred the most. In that one conversation, Hurwitz delivers insight to the reader without hesitation or unnecessary filter. That bit of dialog, combined with the more ferocious and bloodthirsty nature of this new Man-Bat makes it quite clear the writer has plans to make this a memorable conflict between the two characters influenced by Chiroptera. As he has done all along, Hurwitz continues to deliver wonderfully succinct stories that don’t meander, choosing instead to deliver bang for the buck while treating readers to a wide array of Batman’s foes. “Batman: The Dark Knight” #28 may have flown under some readers’ radar, especially given that it isn’t part of a sprawling epic or crossover, but readers should seek this one out. This is a concise adventure that provides readers with an enjoyable battle between Batman and Man-Bat.