Writer: Kurt Busiek / Artist: John Paul Leon / DC Comics
I do not give out this kind of praise lightly but reading this comic was the best kind of experience. I heard the title and knew not what the comic book gods had bestowed on me. “A Batman one-shot or mini-series, whatever”, I naively thought. I saw an extra copy at my comic book store and saw the name. Kurt Busiek. I don’t know if you’re reading Astro City but if you aren’t I advise you to treat yourself. “Creature of the Night” highlights the best of Busiek. He is amazing at telling relatively isolated stories without the extensive context we come to expect in our standard comic books.
Within a short period of time, you are emotionally invested in these characters. The story focuses on a young child who loves Batman and the boy’s uncle who loves him. We are taken through the child’s heart-wrenching story from both his and the uncle’s perspective. Much of the book is narrated from their perspectives. This brings me to the next impressive creative choice made in this book. Todd Klein is the letterer and deserves heavy props for it. The two narrating characters are made distinct by the lettering in their respective boxes. The move is equal parts artistically and practically impressive.
Creatures Come Out at Night and They Are Drawn Wonderfully
There is no confusion as to whose perspective is being told when the older character speaks in stylistic cursive and the younger in juvenile, simplistic text. As a segue into how aesthetically pleasing this book is, the text accents the phenomenal artwork of John Paul Leon. I do not exaggerate when I say that Leon is a master of his craft as the sole artist on the book. The book plays with light and detail in a manner rare in comics today. When it serves a scene well a page will be brightly lit, showing the detailed architecture of the building. When appropriate a page will be heavily shadowed and dark.
This doesn’t, though, take away from Leon’s meticulous attention to detail. His skills shine equally bright through his decisions to use fewer details. Whether it be jet black shading in place of eyes or faceless crowds in the background Leon uses these choices as tools to accent other parts of the page or to create a particular tone.
This creative team of Kurt Busiek, John Paul Leon, and Todd Klein put together a hauntingly beautiful comic about trauma and wonder, connecting on a visceral level to the comic book fan. This comic could very well have been a one-shot and I would be satiated. Our cup runneth over, though, as this creative team will bless us with a full miniseries. A comic like this is pure perfection and the standard by which I hold all others.
10 Tragic Backstories out of 10
Reading Batman? Find BNP’s other reviews of the series here.