If you enjoy quality storytelling without any baggage, then Batman: Black & White #1 is the book for you, and it also supports multiple re-reads which justifies the higher-than-usual cover price.
This review of Batman: Black & White #1 is spoiler-free.
Batman: Black & White has been done with success before by DC, so it’s actually surprising that we don’t see more of this title. Anthologies are notoriously difficult to get right; often the weaker tales are submerged by the stronger ones, and when you read a collection like this, you can’t help but find yourself rating the tales from best to worse.
On the plus side, these type of books can be great gateways for people who may not want to start reading Batman or Detective Comics, as often they are in the middle of long arcs. Batman: Black & White #1 can be read by anyone, and they don’t need to know any of the lore or continuity.
This issue has stories by James Tynion 1V (read my Batman Annual #5 review here), JH Williams, G Willow Wilson, Emma Rios, and Paul Dini. Art comes from Tradd Moore, Greg Smallwood, and Andy Kubert, and there is a smattering of pin-ups too, just to beef things up.
The quality varies, mostly in the storytelling, as the artists all have a style that is so personal to themselves that it’s hard to critique. You really either like Tradd Moore or you don’t, so it’s fairer to say that there are some more traditional Batman styles, compared to some of the more stylistic renditions, and they all have equal merit.
The stories, though, are easier to compare. There are studies of Batman and how he is perceived, along with more generic adventure tales and some that are really more like essays rather than narratives. You will probably rank these depending on how you like your Dark Knight served up, but to be honest, there are no real clunkers here, every tale should be read.
This is a square-bound card stock book that is double sized and with a $5.99 price point, so it may put casual readers off from picking it up, but Batman lovers will probably be more inclined to grab this, and you can’t blame them.
Batman is the flagship character in the DC line, and the more titles DC can produce with the property the better. When you think about it, there aren’t really many other superheroes that would be more appropriate for such a book — Superman: Black & White just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
If you enjoy quality storytelling without any baggage, then this is the book for you, and it also supports multiple re-reads which justifies the higher-than-usual cover price.