Review: Batman: City Of Madness #2

“City Of Madness” – Book Two
Writer/Artist: Christian Ward
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Review by Steve J. Ray

Batman: City of Madness #2 successfully builds on the tension and horror of the first chapter masterfully.

This series is telling a story that not only looks stunning, but is raising questions on the nature of reality, sanity, and the very origins of Gotham City. The always notorious Court of Owls has been given new depths and Christian Ward has managed to show them as a potential force for good.

Who knew that comics, while always entertaining, could also stimulate and broaden the mind? I did… that’s why I’ve been reading (and loving) them for close to 50 years.

Last month we met the Batman and Two-Face of Gotham below, this time around we see the terror of the Under-Gotham also infect the delicate mind of Arnold Wesker, the Ventriloquist. This is a character I’ve loved since his very first appearance as he’s one of Batman’s most tragic villains.

Getting a look into his past in this issue was very welcome, and the parallels Christian Ward introduces between choices made in Arnold’s childhood are beautifully juxtaposed with Batman’s decision to take on a crime-fighting partner in Dick Grayson. Oh, Nightwing’s back in this issue, and that’s something else to celebrate.

The Dark Batman from Gotham Below’s plans are unwinding and his hapless victim is being turned into a Robin, whether he likes it or not. The disjointed lunacy/evil of our hero’s doppelganger makes him extremely disturbing, yet also quite sympathetic.

What I love about the visuals in this series is, while they’re extremely bright and colorful, the hues Ward uses are so unnatural that they add to the sense of vertigo and insanity that his script is also highlighting. The partnership with Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou is also sublime. Hass (as Christian loving calls his co-creator) is lettering this story like a fever dream. The way the two talents work together creates a unified whole that’s a joy to read.

Conclusion

I’m loving this story. Batman: City of Madness #2 is brilliantly paced and structurally sound. The way that small pieces of information are slowly being divulged is being handled in a way that adds to the tension and builds the drama.

I’m not happy about the long wait between chapters but Ward and Otsmane are telling a powerful story. If this schedule helps them deliver the kind of quality we’ve seen in the first two chapters, then the wait for the finale will be well worth it.

Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment


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