Legends of the Dark Knight: Slam, Part One
Though Scott Snyder’s operatic approach to the character has been a very successful one; a gritty, grimy and realistic depiction of the Dark Knight is my personal preference. This, the third three-part short story of the series, evokes in its first issue the exemplar of that style: Gotham Central, but instead of a current cop it tells the story of an ex-police PI who is similarly caught up in crimes way above his pay grade. Things look bad for Slam Bradley, I daresay the dick is damned, but his book is very, very good and this is only the start.
First of all I love the protagonist; putting a real detective at the heart of Detective Comics is an inspired idea. Hearing all of that hard-boiled Noir style narration appropriated to the context of Gotham’s city streets never ceases to please and the philosophy hinted at by remarks about the cities past, before Bats brought out all the masks, is potent. The story that Slam is set to stand in is simple tropic fare – again thou, this is just the start – but very sinister in its set-up and stylishly enough told to be made completely compelling from the get go. Joshua Hale Fialkov writes snooping like nobodies business.
The art is also very strong, but unlike the script it is rather strange to read. Phil Hester has laid out the lines in a largely experimental way – as he should given the nature of the new medium: some pages are full screen pictures that lack black borders but still contain multiple iterations of each character, a sort of time lapse effect. Others float figures in washed out white space, with only the space that needs to be utilized filled. This is not normally my ideal, but I think he pulled it off pretty well and want to see what he does next week. In comparison the inks and colors, by Eric Gapstur and Jim Charalampidis respectively, are complimentarily traditional; lending the actual art an Aja-esque, almost Criminal feel, both of which are of course massive compliments.
So I was reading the story and loving it for its relatively small scope, selflessly scant showing of Batman and relative realism; then came the end reveal. Despite its quality i think that i would have been happy for this story to end in one issue, but that twist made me glad that this is a three parter; if only for the fact that it will finally expose me to this character. Ben and B.Clay, you’ve got yourselves some competition.