Thwip! Reviews – Batman Annual #1

Ah, end of November…where all the turkey has been eaten and everyone is waiting for their favorite visitor at night.

I of course mean Batman.

With the first annual of Rebirth, we get a slew of stories by a variety of writers and artists who agreed upon a bit of (early) Christmas cheer.

The first story, by main writer Tom King and sometimes collaborator David Finch gives us the origin of Ace, the Bat-Hound. A heart-warming tale of Alfred dealing with a dense Bruce (’cause Batman has his blindspots, and Tom King writes Bruce in such a humane way…such a human way). The story is funny, easy to read, and probably one of the best of the lot, with Finch bringing some great storytelling skills along with some great visuals.

I have no idea why would Joker dress the dogs up as playing cards when there is the Royal Flush gang, but that might just be me…

The second story is by Scott Snyder and Ray Fawkes, with art by Declan Shelvey. It is a classic tale of times when Gotham goes silent (similar to what James Tynion IV did for the final issue of the New 52 Batman, and a few others, it is a overdone trope, but still a great one for Christmas time, if it works, don’t fix it!). Shelvey’s art is gorgeous and brings a bit of The Animated Series vibe to it, which makes it all the more nice to read.

Next is the story by Paul Dini and Neal Adams, and fittingly it is a primarily Harley Quinn story. This story is great because first of all it has two great Batman creators doing their best (Neal Adams is in good form in this story), and Paul Dini knows his creation well. The second thing is that this story is a good showing of Harley Quinn’s new status quo as a heroic icon. It takes a while to build, but there is a good payoff with Batman showing he ain’t a weird psycopath…all the time at least.

Then we have Steve Orlando’s story with Riley Rossmo’s art. I loved Rossmo’s art, such a gorgeous style, I can’t wait until they really let him(?) bust loose and go wild on a comic or even on a full issue. Steve Orlando starts off well enough, with everything pretty much in-line with the theme of annual, but the final twist feels too gimmicky and too much, “stay tuned folks!”

Not my favorite Orlando work.

Then we have my least favorite entry, Scott Bryan Wilson’s story with art by Bilquis Evely. Now Bilquis is fantastic, I love it every time she works with Warren Ellis, and she brings her A-game to the story. Scott Bryan Wilson, however…The thing is, it starts off interestingly, but then the character he introduces just for the sake of this story, well it makes no sense. The person doesn’t seem deranged enough to be in Arkham (which, you know, is a mental asylum, so that is kind of a prerequisite), nor interesting enough to have the story center around her. And then there is Wilson’s Batman, who is unlike any of the others, talking almost incessantly when he finally gets an audience and his words make no sense with the rest of the story. There is no cleverness, no coyness, just complete sociopathy behind his actions and his monologue.

With that being the last story, it leaves a bad taste in the mouth, sorry Scott Bryan Wilson, not a fan so far.

Four out of five good stories means that this gets four and a half Thwips (’cause all the artists were great) for this issue.

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