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Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #176

Posted: Friday, February 13, 2004
By: Ray Tate



"Testament": Shadow War

Writer: John Wagner
Artists: Chris Brunner, James Sinclair(c)
Publisher: DC

Chris Brunner's artwork in Legends of the Dark Knight noticeably in terms of character falters. Batman's ears are so small that you really would not know that Batman was in your presence until you saw the symbol on his chest. It almost appears that he wears a leather skullcap rather than an eared cowl. Batman's face also looks too broad in some panels, and the curvature of his skull to his neck is sometimes drastically sharp in contrast.

In terms of direction, Mr. Brunner stages an exciting final encounter between Batman and Rough Justice that has the look and feel of a storyboard for a high budget action film. Mr. Wagner's orchestration and choice of setting for the climax are inspired. His partner Chris Brunner instills the panels with the illusion of movement.

Mr. Wagner during the climax brilliantly reveals his understanding for the hero. Moving away from the pack that believes Batman to be a psychotic, Mr. Wagner emphasizes what makes Batman different from the generic carbon copy anti-heroes cropping up during the nineties and a decade after is that he will not kill.

The original Bat-Man killed, but even he was so obviously separated from the chaff of sociopaths hearing voices in their heads. Batman will not kill, and he is not so wedded to his obsession that he is willing to chuck his principles. He is not a slave to his drives. He is in full control.

The final issue of Legends of the Dark Knight taking place in the hazy may have beens of Batman's early days reinforces the strength of the hero and his status as a force for good wrapped in the bluff of darkness. He may seem like a vigilante and use vigilante tactics, but he will be forever a hero.

Devin Grayson--she who had Bruce Wayne buy a gun "just to see what it feels like"--next drags Legends of the Dark Knight into whatever the hell DC calls continuity. Such a move means that the sobriquet Legends no longer applies. I suggest hardcore Batman fans run away as far and fast as they can.



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