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Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 341: Legends of the Dark Knight #70

Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. As it’s now December, I will be examining the LAST pages of random comics, so watch out for SPOILERS! Today’s page is from Legends of the Dark Knight #70, which was published by DC and is cover dated April 1995. Enjoy!

Purple prose FTW!

The second and final part of “Criminals,” from LotDK #69-70, ends with this dramatic page written by Steven Grant (who used to write very insightful columns for the Mothership) and drawn by Mike Zeck. It’s colored nicely by Digital Chameleon, and it’s lettered, as you probably can tell, by Willie Schubert. Oh, Willie Schubert – if my nightmares were lettered, they’d be lettered by you!

In this story, Batman infiltrates the prison (I guess it’s called Blackgate in this story, but I didn’t check issue #69 and it’s not mentioned in this issue) because a prisoner is somehow getting out to commit new crimes, and of course it turns out to be a whole ring with the warden calling the shots. Batman disguises himself as “Officer Stone” and figures shit out, because he’s the Batman! So now Zeck gets to draw a final splash page of Bats standing over the scene, feeling pretty fucking pleased with himself. Grant brings it home with some nice pulpy purple prose, as Bats thinks about Gordon’s world, which is one of “order and faith,” as opposed to his own, which is significantly bleaker. Grant does end with a nice summing-up: “In Gotham, the night has his face. Name the devil, in sound or silence, and the devil will answer. And the devil’s name is Batman.” Dum-dum-dummmmmmmm!!!!!

Zeck is a fine artist, and he designs the page well. The placement of the caption boxes lead us across the top of the page and then down the right side, as Batman forces us to read them that way. Batman provides a nice frame for the scene, and the final caption boxes are on “his side” – the dark side of the night, where the Batman rules. Zeck places the prison walls in opposition to Batman, creating a nice box for the scene on the ground but also showing the two forces that keep criminals in place – the walls and the Batman. Down on the ground, the police lead the prisoners out of Batman’s shadow – notice his cape obscures some of them – to the paddy wagon, which represents Gordon’s world of law and order. The lights on the police vans simply amplify this feeling – Batman always remains in the shadow, while Gordon tries to bring light to the world of the criminals. Zeck draws a nice Batman on this page – we can’t see his face, but his body is full of coiled violence, as if he’s holding himself back from leaping down and kicking even more ass than he already has. Nobody stands that way, with the cape bunched in clenched fists, if they’re relaxed. Batman can never relax. NEVER!

It’s always nice to get a well-designed page to end a story. This is good and dramatic, and both Grant and Zeck do a fine job creating a mood of triumph but also bitterness. Batman wins, but he can never win. Sucks to be him!

Next: It’s been quite a while since we saw this barbarian, but he’s back! Find his first appearance this year in the archives!

8 Comments

my god, you rule Burgas! It’s funny, because I don’t have many comic books about Batman. But of all comic books (70 years) you chose my favorite story! I don’t know what to say, but it’s funny coincidence. I never took as much thought as you did anyway!

ultron: That’s pretty neat. I’m surprised, because it’s not that well known a story. It is good, though.

Man, I like Schubert. And Klein, Constanza, Lappan, Robins and the Orz, but I can’t stand Starkings, Comicraft or Pinaha. Or digital lettering.
Noticed that unlike other reviews, where you give the benefit of the doubt to the letterer as to who set up the ballons and captions (artist or letterer), you just would not throw Schubie a bone.

Kabe: To be fair, I didn’t actually say Zeck placed the caption boxes, either! The way I wrote it, I just didn’t think to place a caveat in there that I wasn’t sure who was responsible for it. So yeah, Schubert probably did place them, and he did a good job.

His style still bugs me! :)

Waaaaaah!!! I want Mike Zeck to return to drawing comic books! I know that he is making more money doing licensing artwork, but I really miss him on actual comics. At least draw some covers, Mike. Pleeeeeease!?!?!

Holy cow, that’s Mike Zeck? I saw the page and thought it was someone like Kevin Nowlan.

And what is it that vexes you so much about Schubert, Greg? As he’s more modern I don’t know him compared to, say, Rosen, Orz, Workman, Oda. etc. Looks like he’s from the Costanza school of lettering which I thought would be agreeable.

Pete: I don’t like his capitals at the beginning of pages – the “G” in “Gordon” up there, for instance. They’re often hard to read. And I don’t like his italicization of the letters and the way he designs some of the letters – it often makes some of the letters difficult to read, and I actually have to stop and make sure the letter is the one I think it is. It’s annoying. He’s a bit like Costanza, I guess, but Costanza’s more rounded letters are easier for me to read. And it’s not even because I’m old and my eyes suck – I’ve never been a fan of Schubert’s lettering.

Hey man, don’t go dissin’ my man Willie Schubert. (or Bob Pinaha. Pinaha forever!)

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