Graphic Novel/Comics Review

Batman: Gotham County Line

(2006) Steve Niles and Scott Hampton, Titan Books, 9.99, trdpbk, 160pp, ISBN 1-84576-401-3


This is a collection of the three-issue mini-series from 2005. Given how disappointing DC's output has been of late, the Infinite Crisis and the "1 Year Later" stories, it's an absolute delight and joy to see this book. Scott Hampton's art is brilliant, as always, beautifully enhanced by Jose Villarrubia's colours, and Steve Niles' writing is excellent. Jim Gordon asks Batman to help out the Gotham County Sheriff's Department with a serial killer problem they've been having. Once on the scene Batman quickly solves the crime but, in doing so, inadvertantly helps the killer to commit suicide. But the killer is some kind of spell-caster and his death traps Batman in a twilight world of zombies and death. Deadman and the Phantom Stranger both turn up to help out and Batman must cope with help from the dead (Jason Todd) Robin, as well as facing the spectre's of his late parents. Tons of nice stuff here, from the opening fight with the Joker, to Alfred pulling a graveworm from his ear, to the appearances of Deadman and Phantom Stranger... This just goes to prove my point about what you can do with a comic when you are not particularly concerned with continuity - just a good story, well written and well drawn. It comes as something of a relief for me to be able to say of a DC book (after months of bitching) that this is highly recommended.

Tony Chester

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