Legends of the Dark Knight #1

Written by Damon Lindelof
Art by Jeff Lemire
20 screens, color
Published by DC Comics

DC Comics has been entering the digital comics realm more and more over the past year; with the arrival of their new digital series Legends of the Dark Knight, there’s now a new original digital comic available each weekday from the company. It’s been a nice surprise to see that these aren’t comics getting tossed out for the sake of having something in the digital realm, though. With this new Legends of the Dark Knight comic, the first installment is by Damon Lindelof and Jeff Lemire, two talents hardly worth sneezing at. And at 99 cents a comic, it feels like a steal.

Lindelof and Lemire take advantage of this new Legends of the Dark Knight‘s non-continuity, anything-goes remit to give us a story about Batman’s one weakness. It’s set early in Batman’s career; he’s feeling cocky and invulnerable, and has clearly yet to suffer any major defeat. Lindelof’s Batman feels in some ways to be crossed with Christopher Nolan’s take from his Batman Begins/The Dark Knight films; the line "there is only war" feels like it’s pulled right from those movies. Still, there’s a unique take on the character from Lindelof in Legends of the Dark Knight #1 too; I don’t recall a possibly-drunk Bruce Wayne taunting Alfred and making bets, for example, although Lindelof hedges his bets with the possibility that it’s an act. Alfred himself also comes across a little more forceful and with an edge than one might remember. If this was in one of the regular Batman titles I can just imagine readers screaming bloody murder, but serving as the first story in a non-continuity series, it’s a great choice. It lays down the groundwork that anything can happen here, then gives us a prime example of how a creator’s voice can be strong and present without worrying about an entire line of titles getting derailed. All in all, it’s a good, different take on the character.

What I found more compelling, though, was Lemire’s art. Lemire’s been getting more and more work from DC Comics these days—writing and drawing Sweet Tooth, and writing both Animal Man, Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E., and Justice League Dark—but seeing him drawing Batman is a surprising but pleasing turn of events. I love how Lemire’s ragged style fits Lindelof’s script; this is an early-days Batman, and the trademark cape looks as much like a series of tatters as it does a single unit. He’s a Batman without a massive support network, someone still learning the trade, and it shows in Lemire’s art. Even better, though, are a lot of the minor details; the treads on Batman’s boots, the streaks of rain falling every which way, the bruising on Batman’s face. Jose Villarrubia’s colors mesh perfectly with Lemire’s art; stronger and more concrete when Batman’s in charge, but slightly more gentle and wispy when Batman pictures his rogue’s gallery and wonders which of them is behind this trap.

DC’s original digital comics initiative is taking off quite well, and if the upcoming Legends of the Dark Knight comics are as good as this one, well, it’s 99 cents well spent. Regardless, though, Lindelof and Lemire’s opening issue is worth your time.

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