Reviews | Written by Joel Harley 08/04/2021

BATMAN: LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT #1

FORMAT: SINGLE ISSUE | RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW

DC’s Legends of the Dark Knight once brought readers some of the greatest Batman stories ever told. A collection of shorter tales, largely unconcerned with continuity, from a rotating roster of writers and artists. These stories tended to be darker, odder, and more artsy than the main Bat-books - angling for an adult audience, following the success of Year One. Who can forget the disturbing one-two punch of Prey and Terror? The Freaks riff Faces? The curiously odd Shaman? Or the frankly horrifying Mask?

The title has been resurrected as a DC Digital First release, with Darick Robertson handling the book’s debut arc. This first issue finds Batman investigating a new villain on the streets of Gotham, trading in a deadly chemical weapon. But Robertson seems less interested in new threats than old; his first big Batman story reads like his excuse to write and draw the rogues gallery. And who can blame him for wanting to show off? His character work is tremendously done, featuring imposing takes on Mister Freeze, the Penguin, Riddler and… of course, the Joker.

With the emphasis on action over atmosphere, it struggles to achieve that lurid Legends of the Dark Knight feeling. As with any anthology, the series always was a bit of a mixed bag – especially given how long it ran for – but it’s a shame that the reboot should kick off with such gimmickry. With the A-listers all fighting among themselves, it’s hard to care about Roberson’s mysterious new villain, nor his low-level machinations. This is not a bad story, by any means – not with that artwork – but it’s disappointingly vacuous. But then, who said that all legends had to be… legendary?

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