Batman: Gotham After Midnight is a twelve issue mini series that was marketed as a frightful, scary, dark Batman adventure.

For the most part, the marketing was dead on.

Brief plot synopsis:

While Gotham after dark is dangerous, Gotham after midnight is ‘Hell on Earth.’ The Scarecrow has broken out of Arkham Asylum and has become obsessed with stealing a rare artifact. When The Batman arrives on the scene and tangles with his old foe, he realizes that petty theft isn’t the typical M.O. of The Scarecrow. He draws the logical conclusion; someone (or something) far more sinister must be behind this scheme…

Some thoughts on the issue:

-Writer Steve Niles spins an enveloping detective story, and is careful to refer to the title character as ‘The’ Batman, which I’m a fan of. The scene I enjoyed the most was probably the least action packed; The Batman’s rooftop meeting with Police Commissioner James Gordon. Typically these late night get togethers are a copout way to deliver the exposition (no pun intended). But for the first time in recent memory the rooftop scene, while delivering the necessary expo, flowed with the rest of the plot and didn’t feel forced in delivery. Bravo.

-While the writing is nothing to sneer at, Kelley Jones’ pencils without a doubt make this book. He reverts to the old-time Detective Comics Batman look complete with a flowing cape and long eared cowl. The Batman’s sharp, hawklike features make his appearance far more menacing than the Batman we have grown accustomed to in recent comic book pages. I dig Jones’ use of The Batman’s cape, as it seems to have a mind of its own. We often see it sprawling all over the place, and is very ‘Spawn’ looking in nature. My only qualm with Jones’ work is that in some panels The Batman is drawn awkwardly. Certain body parts aren’t in proportion to others, and at times his body contorts in ways that defy the laws of physics. Still, Jones’ art is perfect for this title and is beautiful to look at.

-Michelle Madsen does a great job with the colors, only complimenting the dark, after midnight mood of the book.

-The Chapter 2 introduction shot of Batman holding a sledgehammer looks… out of place and a little silly.

-Some one liners:

“I’m going to have to have a word with Jeremiah Arkham and maybe Bruce Wayne about donating to Arkham’s security.” – The Batman

“I see. Are you expecting Godzilla to attack Gotham then?” – Alfred

“The best preparation is a full stomach, Master Bruce. Imagine if your stomach were to growl at the wrong time.” -Alfred

-A full page spread gives a unique, intruiging view of the Batcave. It’s very cool looking, as is the one man Batmobile complete with side jets!

The final word:

While more fitting for an October release as opposed to mid summer, overall this issue is a great read. Pick it up if for no other reason than Jones’ art work as it’s definitely worth a look. For the first issue in a 12 issue mini, Batman: Gotham After Midnight can only get darker…

3/5 stars

Batman: Gotham After Midnight #1