Review: Black Bat #1
A classic pulp from the 30’s returns in this modern take on a seminal character that inspired several well-known comic icons. Tony Quinn is a brash Defense Attorney to the mob who compromises his ethics for financial gain. When he refuses to cross the line and commit murder, he is tortured and blinded by his gangster employers. But when a fortuitous meeting with a covert agency gives him a chance to make amends, Tony transforms into the Black Bat and embarks on a redemptive quest to right the wrongs of his past.
Dynamite’s modern twist on the 1930s pulp hero, the Black Bat, kicks off this week. The story is written by Brian Buccellato with illustrations from Ronan Cliquet. Mat Lopes provides colors with Rob Steen handling letters. So the main questions with this series is can the Black Bat work in a more modern setting?
The first issue serves as a brief introduction to Tony Quinn. The Black Bat started out as a defense attorney that worked for the mob, despite his father’s moral objections. Tony Quinn was more concerned with making money than doing what was morally right. We see hints of how he came to be blinded, but when he finally refuses to do something for the mob he loses his vision. Through some turn of events, a doctor gives Tony new eyes, bat-like eyes, which allow him to have second sight. The main thrust of the story is Tony investigating the kidnapping of some cops. Some of his old clients are high ranking criminals, and he knows they are behind it. He starts working his way up the chain to discover who is responsible. Tony may mark one name off his list, but could the whole thing just be a test from his benefactors?
Buccellato writes a very interesting story. We don’t get a strict origin story in the debut issue. We get a lot of hints and some clues as to what happened to Tony Quinn, but it’s not straightforward just yet. Black Bat isn’t a new character, so you can get away with approaching it with this new angle. There are a lot of comparisons to Batman and Daredevil to make, but you must remember Black Bat predated Batman by 6 years and Daredevil by nearly 30. Keep that in mind and you’ll see how fresh the story really is. The art is good. Cliquet makes everything sleek, yet gritty at the same time. Lopes’ colors help sell the whole thing. It’s either very dark and shadowy, or there’s an almost yellow electric buzz shine from lights in the room.
Bottom Line: The Black Bat is a strong start and great re-introduction to an old hero. Buccellato hasn’t revealed all the answers, but he gives us enough clues to want to find out the larger mystery. Black Bat is a character that, while predating and influencing several heroes, could have easily felt like a modern parody. Buccellato has managed to keep the balance between the original character and making it feel in step with today. 4/5
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