Tripwire’s contributing writer Laurence Boyce takes a look at DC’s Batman: The Imposter out now in hardcover…
Batman – The Imposter
Writer: Mattson Tomlin
Artist: Andrea Sorrentino
Colours: Jordie Bellaire
Letters: Andrea Sorrentino
Published by DC Comics
While modern-day interpretations of Batman have always favoured a certain amount of gritty realism, Batman – The Imposter is maybe one of the most darkly grounded interpretations of The Dark Knight. Compared to this, Christopher Nolan’s take on The Batman might as well be dancing the Watusi and punching bad guys with an accompanying sound effect. Stripping away much of the mythology surrounding Bruce Wayne and his alter ego this DC Black Label story (i.e. out of continuity) is a gritty and disturbing examination of the consequences of both grief and rage all wrapped up within the genre conventions of a thriller.
Batman has been fighting crime in Gotham City for a little over a year. His presence still divides people. For some, he’s a hero who is helping keep crime under control in the cesspool that is Gotham City. For others he’s an unwanted vigilante, undeservedly taking the law into his own hands.
One of the people who believe the latter is Leslie Thompkins, who discovers a gravely injured Batman. While toying with revealing his identity, she decides she’ll keep his secret – on the proviso that he takes part on regular therapy sessions with her.
As Bruce Wayne begins to reveal the depths of his rage and pain in these sessions, he also begins to deal with an imposter Batman who is killing off criminals. But unable to prove his innocence whilst hidden behind a mask, can he continue to let the world think the worst of him. And does it matter anyway? When Detective Blair Wong – who has last her parents in a similar way to Wayne’s – comes onto the scene to investigate, Wayne senses she can help him find the identity of his mysterious doppelganger. How much of his interactions with her will be manipulation and how much genuine feeling will there be. Perhaps not even Bruce Wayne knows.
There’s a myriad of influences here. With writer Mattson Tomlin serving as an (uncredited) writer on Matt Reeves’ recent film it’s unsurprising that there is a certain amount of resonance with the noir tone of the movie. And there’s more than a passing resemblance between the Batman here and Robert Pattison. Classic alternate takes on Batman also loom large with the likes of Batman: Earth One, Batman: Year One and the work of Lee Bermejo all providing a certain amount of inspiration in how the character would work within a real world scenario.
The realism here offers a few intriguing narrative points. Batman’s almost supernatural ability to glide around the city is attributed to a series of zip-lines he’s painstakingly set-up. He has a number of souped-up motorcycles stashed around the city. This deconstruction of The Dark Knight by placing him in the realms of the plausible (if still wildly improbable) makes The Imposter a clever examination of the character as a whole. Here, he’s a rage filled loner (Alfred is shown to have quit many years ago, after a young Bruce has another anger filled ‘episode’. “I’m only a bloody butler,” he states with despair) whose morality seems shady at best. It certainly gives an alternative to the ultimately upstanding hero that Wayne is usually portrayed as.
The thriller plot holds the interest, with the identity of the Imposter and its investigation bringing many intriguing elements for the comic to explore: rich elites, vigilante justice and notions of a broken police force are all touched upon. There are a few nods to other parts of the Batman mythos – it’s nice to see both The Ratcatcher and Arnold Wesker from Alan Grant, John Wagner and Norm Breyfogle’s legendary run part of proceedings, albeit interpreted in a ‘realistic’ way – but this is mostly a fresh look. New character Blair Wong provides a perfect foil for Wayne and their complicated and manipulative relationship provides a twisted heart to the entire story. But there’s little room for levity here. This is a raw and dour piece of work whose fascinations are in the edges of human behaviour and the power of despair.
Sorrentino’s art exudes a certain photo realism amongst the characters but there’s also a sense of abstraction and stylisation here. Unsurprisingly, the colours are dark and muted while it eschews overt and elaborate splash panels. Instead scenes and panels are often broken up throughout a page, with a jagged and collage like feeling – this slightly ramshackle and fragmentary feeling reflecting the uneasiness of the world and the state of mind of our characters.
Sometimes the grim tone of The Imposter is a little overwhelming, and it’s dourness may have some retreating for a dose of 60s and 70s Batman campiness. But those who a prepared to stay the course will find this as a compelling and dark take of Batman that you can find.
Batman The Imposter is available now in hardback published by DC Comics
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Copybat Killings Tripwire’s contributing writer Laurence Boyce takes a look at DC’s Batman: The Imposter out now in hardcover… Batman – The Imposter Writer: Mattson Tomlin Artist: Andrea Sorrentino Colours: Jordie Bellaire Letters: Andrea Sorrentino Published by DC Comics While modern-day interpretations of Batman have always favoured a certain amount of gritty realism, Batman –
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