The anthology series has been around as long as comics themselves. It’s a story format that has grown tired, often containing inventory stories and filler. However, Batman: Urban Legends #1 shows that there’s still life in the format.
This triple sized issue kicks off the new series with four stories. Each would be worth checking out on their own, but the series packages them together as a stronger whole. The issue was created by Chip Zdarsky, Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira, Marcus To, Adriano Lucas, Becca Carey, Stephanie Phillips, Laura Braga, Ivan Plascencia, Deron Bennett, Brandon Thomas, Max Dunbar, Luis Guerrero, Steve Wands, Matthew Rosenberg, Ryan Benjamin, Antonio Fabela, and Saida Temofonte,
There’s nothing really groundbreaking in the format of the issue itself. Zdarsky and Barrows’ Red Hood story and Rosenberg and Benjamin’s Grifter story are both the length of a standard issue, while the others are shorter. The thing that does make it stand out is that they’ve gathered creators at the top of their game to tell these stories and all of them feel like they matter.
For the Harley Quinn story by Phillips, Braga, Plascencia, and Bennett, it’s a firm statement about the relationship between Harley and Ivy that’s both heartwarming and key to the characters’ future. It’s a sweet short that makes so much of its page count. Meanwhile Thomas, Dunbar, Guerrero, and Wands reestablish the Outsiders as a team that fits their name. It’s a bit weaker than the other three, partly because of its en media res style, but when it reveals what it’s really doing (with a last page twist) it comes around quickly.
The two full length stories are really what makes this issue worth picking up. Zdarsky and team tell a Red Hood story that’s concerned with Jason Todd’s motivations as a character, not just making him a grittier Batman. These twenty-ish pages do more with Jason as a character than most stories over the past decade have. Meanwhile, Rosenberg and team have a little more fun, with a lighter story featuring Grifter. However, its by no means less than the Red Hood story, as the creative team still tells a smart, action-filled, but emotional story.
Even better for the issue is that each segment has its own distinct creative team. This ensures that each story stands on its own. It gives the issue an identity it would not have had otherwise. By giving the teams the freedom to create stories that truly matter, it ensures that you don’t want to skip it.
In that, it works, and I can’t wait to see more.
Batman: Urban Legends #1 is available now from DC Comics.
Take a trip into Gotham’s darker side in four fantastic tales by creators at the top of their games.