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"Man-Bat #1" Comic Review

Written by James Ferguson

Published by DC Comics


Written by Dave Wielgosz
Illustrated by Sumit Kumar
Colored by Romulo Fajaroo Jr
Lettered by Tom Napolitano
2021, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on February 2nd, 2021


Kirk Langstrom meant well. He set out to restore his sister's hearing using a serum derived from bats. In the process, he turned himself into the monstrous Man-Bat, becoming addicted to the stuff along the way. Fueled by stark determination, he's hit rock bottom as his wife leaves him. Kirk is left with no other options but to give into the bat within, putting him in the crosshairs of not only the Dark Knight, but some other folks as well.

Writer Dave Wielgosz presents a fascinating look at addiction in Man-Bat #1 through the guise of a super villain. Langstrom doesn't see himself as a bad guy, of course. He is trying so hard to help and to prove that he's not the monster others think he is. His internal narration is heartbreaking as he rushes into action to stop a couple robbers and wreaking all kinds of havoc along the way.

Click images to enlarge

We're left to wonder who is correct in the confrontation between Man-Bat and Batman. On the one hand, Langstrom hurt a bunch of people and caused tons of property damage without actually catching the criminals, but on the other, he didn't kill anyone and he wants to help. Under other circumstances, the Caped Crusader would have taken in Langstrom as a new Robin. Here, he's treated as a villain and shipped off to prison without mercy.

Artist Sumit Kumar creates a nice juxtaposition between Langstrom and his monstrous alter ego. While he's human, he looks harmless and broken. He's used to being stepped on. This is the complete opposite of the raw power he possesses as Man-Bat. His wings spread out far and wide, engulfing his targets in one fell swoop. He's like a demon flying through the night. There's one panel that shows the inner monster, when Langstrom lashes out at his wife. We see his features change, becoming more like Man-Bat, while maintaining his human qualities.

Click images to enlarge

I love how letterer Tom Napolitano shifts Langstrom's voice to a rougher and larger font when he transforms. He works well with the look and feel of the change, like he's giving in to this monstrous side of himself.

Since we're dealing with Gotham City, there's a kind of perpetual night, captured well by colorist Romulo Fajaroo Jr. The shadows create the perfect setting for this vampire-like creature to stalk the skies, taking on a gothic tone. When Langstrom transforms, it's coupled with a red hue, as if a rage is bubbling up within him.

After seeing his calmer demeanor in Justice League Dark, I have to wonder what this mini-series will entail for Man-Bat as it takes place before he joins the likes of Wonder Woman and Detective Chimp on adventures of the magical and supernatural. Langstrom is portrayed as a tragic figure that you can't help but sympathize with. It shows how the line between good and evil can be very fine. One bad day can push you over the edge.


Story: fourstars Cover
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Art: fourstars
Overall: 4 Star Rating

About The Author
James Ferguson
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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