The Batman 2016 Annual #1 is a “Silent Night” themed talent showcase. Featuring art by David Finch, Declan Shalvey, Neal Adams, Riley Rossmo, David Finch, Bilquis Evely and stories by Scott Bryan Wilson, Steve Orlando, Paul Dini, Scott Snyder, Tom King.
This annual brings us all kinds of stories – action packed, emotional, and even creepy. *Forty-two beautiful pages of Batman. Below is my review of my three favorite stories.
The first story in this snow-packed collection, titled Good Boy, is a love story. If dogs are your favorite animal, be prepared. Set the scene with romantic snow, soft lighting and throat eating dogs trained by the joker and a determined butler who after all this time still believes all wounds can heal.
Alfred names the new furry friend at Wayne Manor, “Ace” and begins his work on training the pup. Bruce Wayne doesn’t like their new guest but puts up with him all the while Alfred is hard at work. Months go by and soon Bruce finds himself head over heals with Ace and the comic ends with a new set of bat ears for an eager doggy. This story is exactly what my heart needed. Nothing like a geeky animal rescue story to get the tears flowing.
The second story in this collection that I really enjoyed was The (Not So) Silent Night of the (HarleyQuinn). Batman catches Harley with pastries and a bomb – making her way to the police precinct. She is given two choices, Arkham or Gotham City Limits. Harley is a hometown hero in Gotham but she is finding it hard to leave behind her criminal ways. As Batman drives Harley to the Gotham City limits we are witness to a car ride that seems to be shared by two old friends. As the Batman and Harley drive through the city we are witness to the countless fans of HarleyQuinn including one young girl intent on defending the toy drive being attacked by kids her own age. Harley is vocal about her displeasure in being dropped off at the city limits but when the car stops and she gets out she finds that Batman has driven her home to Coney Island.
I really enjoyed the story because it shows a softer side to Harley that isn’t often seen. I think there has been a big push in recent years by D.C. to make their female characters more dimensional. In my opinion, HarleyQuinn is far from being a feminist icon but I think she has become a symbol of female power and strength for all sorts of people. Once a psychiatrist, Dr. Harleen Qunizel spun into insanity when faced with insane of Arkham. Becoming enthralled by the mind of one patient known as The Joker, Dr. Quinzel is manipulated by a psychotic clown. But no doubt Harleen is playing her own game while “Puddin” is around.
**Bonus: New Series coming in 2017**
If “The Stag” is anything like it’s intro story in this annual then I am really looking forward to it. Batman fears the death of the biggest Philanthropist in Gotham and begins to realize that he can only save so many. Batman needs help, just like he always has.
My final review of this post and the final story of this collection is titled The Insecurity Effort. A cloud of fear gas is causing the citizens of Gotham to be suffering from low-grade anxiety attacks. The kind where you become suddenly aware of all your flaws and all the things you regret, your deepest fears of yourself.
On top of the wide-spread panic, Haunter a criminal who kills people using their DNA has escaped Arkham. Are her and Scarecrow in cahoots? I thought batman was kinda weird in this comic a little overconfident and the villains kind of dull but they really do well at describing anxiety. “The thing about insecurity is, usually it’s invisible from the outside, but it’s all you see from the inside…”
If you’re a Batman fan or a comic lover looking to get into the holiday spirit then this annual is for you. Great as a gift too! Thanks everyone for reading and join me next week for even more comic reviews!
*on ComiXology app