By Brian Buccellato, Ronan Cliquet, & Mat Lopes
One of the few series from Dynamite Entertainment that is consistently well-written, the Black Bat follows the story of a classic pulp-action hero. Considering how deeply previous issues have delved into the very concept of vigilantism and revenge compared to true heroism, the latest installment is relatively devoid of any such philosophy. However, this doesn’t necessarily imply that issue #5 isn’t a great read. In fact, the story is beginning to feel more and more reminiscent of classic dark-crusaders like everybody’s favorite: Batman.
Brian Buccellato has been pacing the saga of the Black Bat in typically masterful fashion, never revealing too much that the overall sense of mystery and intrigue is reduced, while simultaneously hooking readers into this interesting and not always typical tale of superheroism. Admittedly, the plot isn’t moved forward a great deal in #5, but the closing of the book reveals not only the apparent motivations for the recent string of police kidnappings, but also sets the stage for the major conflict which is to follow. There are also a number of more interesting and somewhat unique aspects beginning to be introduced to this story, including a greater emphasis on the fact that the Black Bat is not a lone ranger type vigilante, but instead works for others who have the ability to shut off the bionic implants of their agents, including the Bat himself. This aspect provides another interesting factor in what could otherwise have been a fairly typical story; the protagonist is out for justice, but he also has his actions directed by other individuals with their own agenda.
The artwork in this series showcases how great pulp-action should be presented. Overall, the book has a somewhat minimalist sensibility to the visuals, while at the same time there is a great degree of depth added by the fantastic shadowing throughout Black Bat #5. In particular, the thinner panels displaying the heroes in silhouette as they plow through hordes of henchmen have a terrifically noir feel to them. Furthermore, the colors in this series do such a great job of setting the tone of each scene. Where appropriate, the palette employed remains relatively restricted in terms of varying base-tones, and this really helps set the mood. Despite the excellent colors, it is the darker scenes that dominate the visual aesthetics of this book, with incredible use of shading and lighting effects.
Overall, the Black Bat may not appear to vastly differ from the many other pulp titles currently being produced. However, as always, it is best to follow the artists as opposed to the characters In this case, this philosophy has paid off given Buccellato’s excellent sense of pacing and overall story-telling. There are other books that may be somewhat similar in terms of background, but the creative team on Black Bat know how to make a pulp book that stands out. Although it would be great to see the story progress a bit more swiftly, each issue has something new to add to this character’s story.