What’s up everyone! Welcome to Beyond The Panel. Coming at you today with the debut of Man-Bat #1! This mini right here I couldn’t help but look forward to jump into. Ever since the Man-Bat became part of the Justice League Dark team, I found myself caring about this character in a way that I was never able to before. Though of course with that said, this isn’t the same Man-Bat. This one hadn’t gone through the full transformation, found that balance between the man and the bat, or found his calling in doing some good for the world. So with that said, I wanted to see what my interest would have been like just seeing the Man-Bat outside of that book.
The great thing about this book is the fact that the creative team seems to acknowledge the fact that despite Man-Bat being a well-known villain in the Batman books, this didn’t make him a character who you would assume everyone knows the story of. This guy certainly didn’t. So there was appreciation towards the approach they took to introduce us to both Kirk Langstrom and the Man-Bat. If all you knew was the struggle Kirk endured with his monstrous alter ego, Man-Bat, this was that time to understand the details of that situation. To see exactly what rock bottom looks like for someone like Kirk, and where that could become more of a problem for him than anything else he has done in his past. Just that argument he had with his ex-wife said more than any flashback would have. They dropped us off at just the right spot where everything wrong with this guy was laid on the table and confronted.
This brought us to the kind of problem Man-Bat brought to Gotham. Up to this point I actually assumed he was more of the mad scientist cliche. That he was just another experiment gone wrong and chose to indulge in the madness he could create. Part of that is still true to Kirk, but this story opened us up to the reasoning for his madness. They made sense of it all which is all you can really ask for when it comes to any Gotham villain.
It was also very intriguing to see that there are two different personalities to Kirk Langstrom and the Man-Bat. This was something I definitely did not see in Justice League Dark, or was even aware was a thing for this character. So it quickly became a point of interest to follow the conversation that took place in Kirk’s head. It made it much easier to understand what exactly drives this guy to believe that he can do good, and believe that some of the choices he makes are right. One could simply leave this up to the consequences of becoming addicted to a drug, though it creates much more depth to give readers more than that as an explanation.
That brings us to the artwork for this mini. Being a mini, and being focused on a character like Man-Bat, my expectations were pretty low for how the quality of the interior work would turn out. So by the end of the issue I found myself impressed with the kind of work produced by both the penciler and colorist. This in particular was my first exposure to Sumit Kumar’s work as a penciler, and he did such a wonderful job here. Very detailed in his renderings, and seemed very comfortable with the kind of world he was creating in Gotham. Knew the right kind of atmosphere to create as well through the balancing of scratched lines and bolder shadings. It felt like that standard story you would step into when dealing with a monster in the city at night. It helped that there was at the same time a seasoned colorist working on this like Romulo Fajardo Jr. who is no stranger with the kind of palette you expect to set the tone for a story like this. In fact, I admired his color choice more for the fact that there was more range to it than you are used to. And what made it all so excitable in the end was the distinctive styling of the lettering from Tom Napolitano.
Overall, Man-Bat #1 was worth the read, and worth taking the chance on. You would think that Man-Bat wouldn’t be the most compelling character to produce a comic about, but it really does come down to having the right creative team on it, and this was the right team for the way that this story kicked off.