Review: Man-Bat #1
Man-Bat isn’t a character I know a lot about beyond the basics. I understand the concept of a scientist whose formula goes astray and turns him into a giant bat. There are some altruistic motivations as to why the formula was created, but it goes wrong. Instead, the scientist becomes addicted to their formula. It’s a concept played out over and over. I wasn’t sure what could be told that’d stand out, but Man-Bat #1 delivers an intriguing debut to the series that delivers a lot of potential.
Written by Dave Wielgosz, Man-Bat #1 delivers a comic that acts as a solid introduction to the character as well as the next chapter for long-time fans. Kirk Langstrom is still obsessed in his quest to perfect his formula with hopes of helping those who are hard of hearing. But, that formula still has its issues, as it has turned Langstrom into Man-Bat in the past. His obsession and focus has destroyed his relationship with Francine who is tired of watching Kirk love the formula more than her.
In the opening of Man-Bat #1 we’re hit hard with witnessing a man whose obsession has destroyed his life. This is addiction front and center creating a comic that’s an interesting allegory for those experiences. After a solid action sequence we get to the meat of the story, that after years of abuse, Langstrom is dying due to the formula. Man-Bat, his inner demon, is killing him. There’s little he can do beyond a miracle which opens up the question if he should accept his fate, fight to prevent it, or go out high… literally.
Man-Bat #1 is a not so thin look at drug addiction with the main character struggling to get literally high. We even get an enabler to the addiction in Batman who comes to a decision to no longer help Kirk in his spiral. No more excuses, Batman needs to act. It’s an interesting twist to Batman. While we often think of his role in putting individuals behind bars, here he treats Langstrom as a drug addict who should seek treatment instead of time behind bars. But, his actions have crossed a line reflecting a real-world debate between rehabilitation and incarceration.
Sumit Kumar‘s art is fantastic. Joined by Romulo Fajardo, Jr. on color and Tom Napolitano on lettering, the comic balances action and emotional moments. The opening is a solid drama, focused on the emotional fallout between characters. Something we experience later with Batman delivering the news to Langstrom and Kirk realizing his fate. Mixed in between is action as Man-Bat attempts to prove he can do good like Batman himself. There’s some great mimicry in images between the two characters as well enhancing the reflection of them.
Each character has an obsession, an addiction, as they pursue their goals. Batman and Man-Bat are similar in many ways. As the comic highlights, one is going down a monster driven dark path. The other journeys down a dark path full of monsters. Man-Bat #1 is a solid debut with an interesting underlying aspect to it about drug addiction. There’s a lot there and hopefully we get more of the thinly veiled story, it creates an interesting twist to the character.
Story: Dave Wielgosz Art: Sumit Kumar
Color: Romulo Fajardo, Jr. Letterer: Tom Napolitano
Story: 8.75 Art: 8.7 Overall: 8.75 Recommendation: Buy
DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review