I’ve genuinely enjoyed this return to the iconic cinematic version of Batman and – though I don’t believe for one second that this would be the story we would have seen in a third Batman film, given some of the socially relevant themes in here that Burton’s style-over-substance movies aren’t exactly known for – the chance to see Billy Dee Williams finally become the Batman villain he was always meant to be is an irresistible concept on its own, let alone seeing the Damon Wayans Robin come to fruition.

With Harvey Dent’s downfall causing ripples of unrest throughout the poor Gotham district of Burnside, the police are dispatched and start to employ some very heavy handed tactics. Someone is on hand to assist the civilians, however – and Batman it ain’t. Meanwhile, Harvey Dent makes a break for it from his hospital bed, despite – or perhaps because of – his mental breakdown, and concerned Burnside resident Drake pays Bruce Wayne a visit, to confront him about a secret he believes he’s uncovered.

It’s all very intriguing stuff and refreshingly unpredictable too. The meshing of Burton’s distinctive 80s noir visual style with a more modern political undercurrent is really well done and the format of a six issue comic series, rather than a 90 minute, flashy blockbuster, gives the material a chance to breathe that it wouldn’t have got on a studio-mandated big screen production. Joe Quinones continues to turn in some stellar artwork and I’m even starting to warm to his Bruce Wayne, despite my initial frustration with it not particularly resembling Michael Keaton.

There’s a lot of great elements here, but it doesn’t feel messy or unfocused; the only complaint I have is with the cover; though it’s superb and showcases a brilliantly original design for the Caped Crusader’s sidekick, it’s an issue too early and just feels like a dishonest tease at best – and a real spoiler at worst. It’s not that we’re not expecting to see Drake suiting up as Robin given what we know (or his repeatedly Robin-coloured clothing choices), but to see the design so clearly on show prior to its unveiling in the story feels like a bit of a misstep.

Even so, that’s a minor complaint for what’s turned out to be a real highlight among 2021’s new comic series. Sure, it may have started out as an exercise in nostalgia for middle-aged guys like me who were obsessed with the Burton Batman movies when they originally released, but it’s become a genuinely satisfying series with great writing and art. It would have been easy for Sam Hamm to phone in his script – readers would have shown up anyway – but he’s clearly moving things on very satisfyingly and logically in the Batman universe he helped create. It’s a joy to go back to the spirit and aesthetic of those first two films, ignoring the campier tone and disastrously daft villains that the Schumacher sequels had.

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