BEWARE THE WITCHING HOUR!
Batman: Gotham After Midnight #1
Story by Steve Niles
Art by Kelley Jones and Michelle Madsen
Published by DC Comics
Review by Lan Pitts
Batman has been part of the horror genre before; however, this time it's a double-shot of fright as Steve Niles (30 Days of Night, Simon Dark, Strange Cargo) and Kelley Jones (Sandman, Deadman, Batman and Dracula: Red Rain) team up for a twelve issue series. Entitled Batman: Gotham After Midnight, one can only assume horror elements will be involved if you aren't familiar with the author or artist. Jones is known for drawing Batman with a more demonic look, similar to Dave McKean and Todd MacFarlane. The story starts out simple enough: Batman is following Scarecrow's trail to an antiquities shop where Scarecrow has found a the Hand of Glory. This is where I became intrigued. Now, if you're not familiar with the occult or magical items, a Hand of Glory is a dried hand of a man who has been hanged for murder. It is supposed to have magical powers such as opening every door it comes across and immobilized all persons to whom it was presented to.
Though in typical Scarecrow fashion, he's beaten pretty easily and is quickly back in the custody of Gotham's finest. Though stealing magical artifacts isn't really Scarecrow's m.o. and when you really think about it, you would think Zatanna or Dr. Fate would intervene knowing such a powerful item is just hanging around in downtown Gotham. I digress though, there is a new horror-themed baddie in good ole Gotham: the Axeman. At first, I immediately thought of the villain from Last Action Hero, "the Ripper". Don't ask me why, I'm confused myself. The art, while some may find it "too pointy" the panels are easy to follow. Niles writes Batman as an eccentric detective while not quite over-the-top. Batman is not the most stable comic character and is often as crazy as the loons he locks up. He's not my favorite Batman voice (that would be Jeph Loeb) but, he still comes across as a man who knows what he is doing. Though, there is one scene where Batman confronts Commisioner Gordon on who should get the credit of bagging the Scarecrow. Batman seems arrogant and so intense, I thought I was reading All Star Batman and Robin for a moment.
It ends with a cliffhanger, and more than likely, I will pick up the rest of the issues just to see how things pan out. Twelve issues, for a story like this, is plenty of time to get a story across and I have faith that this horror dream team (or is that nightmare pair?) will come though with dark, flying colors.