Legends of the Dark Knight: Letters To Batman, Part 2

by deerinthexenonarclights

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Letters To Batman
is…

That was the question that I was left wondering last week by the start of this new arc. Now, after having read the second section of this trilogy of sorts I am both surer and surely more confused as to the answer. What Steve Niles has done with his run on the digital series is utterly unlike any of the efforts that preceded him, in that he has let it evolve. Where the first issue felt familiar in its set up, driven as all the runs so far have been by a single complex plot concept, one kept static and contained within the confines of this singular medium, his now has multiple plots at play – most of which are quite simple, similar to what one would expect of classic Batman comics – and all of these are kept contained by the more complex character idea at it’s core, Batman’s revelation that he is simply the pusher of a revolving door.

To be more specific, this second issue takes the form of a series of one-shots all presented in quick succession, epistolary style. Last issue Batman received bags of letters from Lt.Gordon and this week him and Alfred read one each aloud to us in the audience. They were thank-yous from citizens that Bruce has saved from criminals over the years; simple stories of stopped muggings and violent mobs made to disperse by force. For the most part these are exactly as we have seen in the past, cliche crime stories that could well have been suggested by a single panel and left at that, but instead they take up the width and breadth of the entire issue.

There is a strong point to be made here, that these people who are usually relegated to cameo, one-panel appearances should in fact be Batman’s primary concerns. Sure he may not be able to beat the big villains, evil will always exist, but good can still be protected and trying to do so is surely a worthwhile effort. I wonder though if this was the best, most time efficient way of making that point. Legends comics are meant to be ultra-compressed in a way that Letters simply isn’t so far, it’s theme could probably be conveyed in a single shot of focused story. As something of a wordy rambler myself though I can certainly understand the temptation towards more is more, but this is one of the times where brevity should be the biggest concern.

Ultimately whether or not this story works for me will come down to where the third and final issue takes it, if it simply stretches this single idea out further still then I might be soiled on it a little, but of there is some sort of extension or evolution it could well win me over yet. We’ll still have to see, there is another page left to read before we reach the epigraph.

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