Writer: Tom King/Artists: Jorge Fornes, Mike Norton & Dave Stewart/DC Comics
Batman annuals are like the NBA All-Star game.
You get to see all of your favorite players (characters/creators), moves and team-ups, but without the restrictions of the usual routine. Batman Annual #4 continues the tradition of Eisner-award-worthy content as Tom King teams up with Jorge Fornes, Mike Norton and Dave Stewart for a look into the day-to-day life of Bruce Wayne.
The creative crew behind this issue really came out to shine with this one. With 38 pages of content to tell one story, you’ve got to earn every bit of extra real estate. Otherwise, you risk adding fluff for the sake of doing so. This issue doesn’t suffer from that, even as it shows us some obscene images like Batman hunting vampires or running the football up the middle of the field as if he’s the Gotham Knights’ new halfback. Oh, and let’s not forget the Kaiju and dragon battles.
A few key thoughts came to mind while reading this issue. The most prominent was that you should put this issue in the hands of anyone who doesn’t think that Batman is a superhero simply because he has no superpowers. As this issue shows, he does super things on a daily basis — with no days off — with no special abilities.
Secondly, this issue was an inspiration as it showed what Batman does for Gotham City. In a typical run, we’ll get a handful of stories stretched out over multiple issues. In this annual, we got 40-plus stories that each could be their own issue/run in chronological order just to show how batsh*t crazy Batman’s life is. Seriously, he went to space, rode dinosaurs, wrestled alligators and found a cure to the Joker’s toxin.
One thing became clear – this is why the people of Gotham City love and adore Batman. Now the only thing that’s not clear is why the hell anyone would willingly live in Gotham City if they have to deal with all of this.
Without the restrictions of a long-form story, King was able to reach deep into his bag and take us back into Batman’s psyche, which has historically been what his best writing on this series has showcased. And the insane backdrops gave all of the artists something to play with as they’d go from drawing a horde of mummies on one page to Batman crossing the street with an elderly woman on the next. Talk about variety.
10 top tier Batman stories out of 10
Reading Batman? Find BNP’s other reviews of the Dark Knight’s adventures here.