Written by: Tom King, Scott Snyder, Ray Fawkes, Paul Dini, Steve Orlando, and Scott Wilson
Art by: David Finch, Declan Shalvey, Neal Adams, Riley Rossmo, and Bilquis Evely
Color by: Jordie Bellaire, Ivan Plascencia, Matheus Lopes, and Gabe Eltaeb
This year’s Batman Annual gives readers four Christmas themed tales just in time for the holiday season. The first story “Good Boy” is an Alfred-centric story centered around our favorite Gentleman’s Gentleman and his desire to rescue another broken soul. The script by Tom King conveys the silent dignity and intense loyalty that Mr. Pennyworth is known for while mixing in an effective dose of humor, while the art by David Finch is simple and evocative in its focus on the three main characters in the story.
The next story involves The Dark Knight finding a rare moment in the center of the storm that allows for a second of grace. In “Silent Night”, Batman is testing a new system he calls Bat Signal 2.0, which will bundle and relay relevant crime information directly to the Bat-Computer. On patrol, he stumbles upon a scene in the center of the city that allows him to take a quiet moment. Scott Snyder and Ray Fawkes expertly handle the dynamic between Batman and Alfred and Declan Shalvey’s art effectively conveys motion and fluidity along with Batman’s relationship to the city.
Comic icon Neal Adams and Emmy-Award winning writer Paul Dini come together for “The Not So Silent Night of Harley Quinn.” This tale brings the anti-hero back to Gotham and in direct conflict with Batman as she’s caught trying to break into the GCPD to spread some holiday cheer. The story actually conveys some camaraderie between the two characters as Batman attempts to escort Harley out of town and she tries to convince him that she’s changed. Adams’ art juxtaposes this dynamic by showing Harley’s influence on different people during that night. The story has the classic feel of an episode of Batman: The Animated Series and actually ends on a bit of a high note.
“Stag” finds Batman taking down an ice-themed villain named Minister Blizzard during an annual holiday dedication. After that, Bruce takes some quiet time to reflect on his legacy when compared to another prominent Gotham citizen. Steve Orlando pens a fairly straight-forward story of contemplation that has a rather brutal ending with the reveal of a new villain coming next year. Riley Rossmo’s art is fluid with a pseudo-anime style that works really well with the subject and characters.
“The Insecurity Diversion” written by Scott Bryan Wilson and drawn by Bilquis Evely shows Haunter escaping from Arkham as a fear gas attack grips the city during the holidays. The Dark Knight detective tracks her down and the end of the story is mildly amusing in how Batman berates the villain for the flaws in her plan while cleverly taking her and her accomplice down. The artwork is serviceable, if stilted and the details on the characters come out a little flat as the panels don’t really show much by way of contrast. The story seems a little too formulaic and paint by numbers in its beats, but some of the dialogue is effective in showing the intellect of Batman and his detective skills.
Batman Annual #1 has effective storytelling by everyone with stand-out segments by Tom King, Paul Dini and Steve Orlando. The artwork is really good, especially in the segments by Neal Adams, Riley Rossmo and Declan Shalvey. A good holiday read for fans of Batman and the city he protects.
Images via: CBR, 13th Dimension