Writer: Christian Ward
Art: Christian Ward and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: October 10th, 2023
Buried deep beneath Gotham City there exists another Gotham. This Gotham Below is a living nightmare, populated by twisted mirrors of our Gotham’s denizens, fueled by the fear and hatred flowing down from above. For decades, the doorway between the cities has been sealed and heavily guarded by the Court of Owls. But now the door swings wide, and the twisted version of the Dark Knight has escaped…to trap and train a Robin of his own. Let’s dive into Batman: City of Madness #1 by Christian Ward as watch as this brand new series kicks off!
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Looking for the ideal story this Halloween Season? Well, look no further than Batman: City of Madness #1 by Christian Ward. It blends the perfect balance of eerie Horror Comic meets Thriller with a dash of Superhero on the side. What makes Batman: City of Madness #1 so powerful is the fact that it’s not slasher-core or overly grotesque. It’s haunting and creepy with finesse thanks to Ward’s story just as much as his pencils.
I love the Court of Owls balance with the extra layers surrounding this beast that’s being unleashed on Gotham. Plus, the eerie take on Arkham mixed with the more emotional Two-Face added some rather unique vibes to Batman: City of Madness #1 that made this reviewer glad he was reading it during the day. Since the Court of Owls was introduced by Snyder, they’ve been a huge, diabolical story beat that’s not been truly ironed out much in recent years. This, I’ve always found quite perplexing. There is so much involving the Court of Owls that it hasn’t even scratched the surface. The stories untapped as well as the potential of what the Court is within Gotham can’t be compared. And Ward opens by using that to his advantage masterfully.
The creepy design of the story mixed with Ward’s dark colors and linework gives Batman: City of Madness #1 the haunting charm that’s sure to possess the reader. Ward’s Two-Face was scary, his Batman was frightening, and his Alfred looked worn and tired. There must be this special connection and emotion that someone who is writing and illustrating a comic must bring to the table versus the separation of entities. I imagine it’s just easier to know exactly what you’re looking for compared to the writer explaining the story to an artist in the process. That said, I can feel a deeper connection to the characters as well as emotion to the story because it’s one person driving the bus as opposed to two.
Lastly, the Alfred angle is a nice touch to add that extra layer to Batman: City of Madness #1. Oftentimes, Alfred is an extra in these stories. And if he is a focus, we never get to truly see what he’s feeling and why. However, Ward takes fans deep into the confusion, regret, and frankly, the horror involving the everyday life of Alfred. The emotion alone among Alfred’s layers packs a serious punch throughout the story.
I said it with my opener and I’ll say it again, Batman: City of Madness #1 is the perfect story to kick off this Halloween Season. Ward single-handedly molded the writing and art together in a way that provided this hauntingly authentic thriller with Batman and the Court of Owls at its epicenter. If this issue is any indication, Batman: City of Madness has the potential to be one of the best Batman series we’ve had in the past couple of years. Ward has the character voices down perfectly with this clever, eerie wrinkle that provides readers with this hauntingly dramatic charm that’s sure to get your Halloween Spirit moving. Let me know what you think, have a great week, and God Bless!