Legends of The Dark Knight with Kate (and Dan)

As some of you may know, this last weekend we celebrated the 50th issue of Crimespree Magazine. To celebrate, the Crimespree Wrecking Crew traveled north and descended on our home in the frozen wastelands of Minnesota. A land solely inhabited by mystery lovers, hockey fans, and the mythical Yeti. You know, like the one that attacked Luke Skywalker in EMPIRE STRIKES BACK? Anyway, the celebration gave us the rare opportunity to be in the same place at the same time, which is something that doesn’t happen enough. After an all too short weekend, the Crimespree Crew all climbed into their individual one-man rocket sleds and went back home.

Everyone except Crimespree reporter Jo…

Jo: ::jumps out from behind a curtain:: Hey guys!

Kate & Dan: ::together:: HOLY CRAP!!

K: We thought you joined the Crimespree Caravan back to Milwaukee. Why are you hiding behind our curtains?

J: I wasn’t ready to go home so I thought you’d be cool with me sticking around a few extra days. I won’t be a bother, really! I can sleep in the bottom dresser drawer. I live mostly on string cheese and Mountain Dew. So what do you say?

D: ::looks down at hand holding the last string cheese, frowns:: Sure…anything for the Crimespree Family….

K: If you’re going to stick around then you need to earn your keep. Tacos for dinner don’t just fall out of the sky, ya’ know. This is our week to write the comics blog, so you have to help us do the review of LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT. You read it, right?

J: Josh Fialkov and Phil Hester? Sure did. DC took a different route with this book. This series is bunch of one-and-done stories that are set outside the regular continuity. “Let’s let creators do whatever they want with Batman and his universe.”

K: So that’s why it doesn’t say “THE NEW 52!” across the top of the book?

J: Right. Anyone can pick up an issue and not worry about what happened last month or what’s up in any of the other billion Bat-books. Not only that, but these stories were published online first.

D: Really? That’s pretty cool. And if they’ve got quality creators on the book like these gentlemen, then this is a great way to get standalone books in the hands of casual readers who may not be interested in superhero continuity. These books should be carried at other stores besides bookstores. It’s a great way to get new readers!

K: So let’s check out the book already!

J: Already read it. It’s such a great title, LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT. Like literally a great title! It invokes such prestige. ::opens fridge:: Hey, you’re out of string cheese!

D: ::glares::

K: Boys, boys. No need to fight about cheese. What did you guys think about the adventures of Slam Bradley in LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT?

D: It’s the classic “Wrong place at the wrong time” story. Ex-cop turned PI Slam Bradley is investigating a no-good husband and witnesses a murder. He ends up getting messed up with one of Gotham’s crime bosses, Black Mask, and things take a turn for the worse for our two-fisted hero.

K: He ends up being accused of arson and two separate murders. Then Batman tosses Bradley out of window…

J: ::slamming a Mountain Dew:: Batman’s so cool.

D: Yes he is. Bradley has a rule to “stay away from capes and tights”, but he has to break it when Batman has to help him stop Black Mask and his gang from getting away with the arson and murders. The old, grizzled ex-cop realizes that sometimes he needs the capes and tights help him get the bad guys.

J: ::climbs on top of entertainment center, slams second Mountain Dew:: You know it’s kind of dusty up here? The scene where Batman and Bradley fight the bad guys in the bar is amazing!

K: Er… yes it is amazing, but we were talking about the plot, Jo. And please climb down from there. You’re leaving Mountain Dew cans everywhere! What did you think about the story of Slam Bradley?

J: ::climbs down from entertainment center, starts getting jittery from all the Mountain Dew:: Slam Bradley is amazing! He is the old Gotham guard that worked in the police department before Gordon was the commissioner. He’s been there done that. Now, he’s parted ways with Gotham PD and he’s just trying to earn enough scratch for a cup of coffee and a slice of pie.

D: “Earn enough scratch”? Does Mountain Dew make you talk like a hard-boiled reporter?

J: ::jumps on the end table, juggles lamps:: No, the cheese does!

K: ::mumbles to Dan:: He’s going to break something.

D: ::mumbles to Kate:: I know. Hey, Jo, how’s about you not jump on the furniture, buddy? Ok, so we know Fialkov has written a lean story that serves as a nice “hat tip” to the old pulp PI stories. The story moves at a fast pace, with enough quips to make you grin, but enough danger and violence to keep you interested. But how about the art? How great was it to see Hester on penciling duties?

K: So great. For those of you following along at home, Phil Hester was one of the first interviews to appear in the Kate (and Dan) Reads… column. Not only is he a pro’s pro, but also he’s a hell of a nice guy to boot.

D: Phil has a distinctive, heavy shading style that fits Gotham City to a “T”. From now on when I’m reading a story about an old broken-down PI, I will see Hester’s version of Slam. Just perfect. But what really impressed me about this issue were the extra bits of detail that I found on the second reading.

K: Yeah?

D: Yeah. Like the scene when Slam is on surveillance with his binoculars? Look closely at the lenses. Great detail. Also, after the bloodbath in the jail? Check out the shadows on the floor. So cool. Also, also? The use of negative space used to outline various figures conveys the “noir” vibe so well. Great stuff.

K: I’m all about the Batman swinging on his batarang, leaving Slam in the dumpster. The layout has the batarang at the top right of the page, and Batman at the bottom left. Tons of energy and movement here.

J: ::doing back flips up and down the staircase, stopping to shotgun more Mountain Dew:: SO AMAZING!

K: This issue really has it all: A self-contained falsely-accused PI/superhero mash-up written and drawn by top-notch professionals.

D: If I had a stack of these, I’d leave them on my desk at work and hand them out to strangers.

D: A perfect comic book story.

J: I loved it, too! And you dorks are out of Mountain Dew.