Despite a strong opening story, Batman: Urban Legends #1 pads out its page count and paints by numbers in the rest of its run-of-the-mill tales.
This review of Batman: Urban Legends #1 contains some minor spoilers.
It seems that DC just can’t do enough Bat-books these days.
Batman: Urban Legends is another anthology title from the company, and they must be making money because they keep putting these things out on the shelves. My problem, as you probably know by now, is the varying degrees of quality that these books throw up, and it breaks my heart to say this but this is another one of those collections that leads with a strong story then slowly just tapers off.
This time around, we get Chip Zdarsky with words, and Eddy Barrows and Eber Ferreira on pictures, and Marcus To contributing with the flashbacks.
With a new drug on the streets of Gotham, Red Hood is on the case, trying to track down the source of the problem. It seems that this new drug has similar chemical properties to Scarecrow’s Fear Toxin, but instead of fear, the users experience a hallucinogenic high that often leads them into dangerous and deadly situations. It’s a pretty straightforward premise, but Zdarsky peppers the narrative, switching from Hood’s present to his past, growing up in the Batcave. We get some nice character moments with Bruce and Alfred, and we get Batman and Red Hood taking separate paths in trying to solve the mystery behind the Cheerdrops drug problem.
It’s a good strong opener for Batman: Urban Legends #1, and it is also the most substantial entry too at 24 pages. Zdarsky nails it and the two art styles make it visually interesting.
Next up we get Harley and Ivy in a short 8-page story by Stephanie Phillips and Laura Braga which has Harley reminiscing about happier times with Ivy. This is really just a complete and utter set up for what I presume will be a new mini-series called Harley Quinn and Batman. It serves as nothing else. It’s generic, cliched, and offers the reader nothing new or unique, wasting its page count and painting by numbers.
Next up is the first part of “The Caretaker” starring The Outsiders. Written by Brandon Thomas, with Max Dunbar on art, we start with Black Lightning in a dark tower, trying to converse with Metamorpho who seems to have lost his memory. Cue flashback with Lightning and Katana in a high-speed chase in the seas off Japan, being pursued by magic assassins. That’s pretty much it. Fans of The Outsiders might enjoy this but once again this is just a run around with little substance.
The last story features Grifter in part one of what is billed as a five-part story. “The Long Con” comes from the mind of Mathew Rosenberg, with pictures from Ryan Benjamin. It hits 22 pages and stars Cash Cole, who you might know as Grifter. There’s a fun tone to this story, with Cole messing up on an important job, and getting involved in a caper, crossing the path of Penguin and Nora Fries, and ending with a skirmish with Batman. There’s plenty of quick, snarky dialogue if you like that sort of thing, and they do that thing where they replace the curse words with asterisks and symbols, so it feels that this is for grown-ups, but it’s really not. The death of a character from this story on the last page also felt cheap, and to be honest, I wish they hadn’t done that.
With a cover price of $7.99, it’s hard to recommend Batman: Urban Legends #1. The Zdarsky story was great, but really there’s nothing else special or noteworthy about the other stories. They are really just run-of-the-mill tales that you would get in an annual or Walmart 100-page special. For $7.99 the quality has to be better than this, as apart from the opener, there’s nothing here that makes me want to buy the second issue.