What Black Bat #8 Offers
(This review contains some character and plot spoilers for Black Bat #8)
Black Bat is not a copy of any other super hero currently in Popular Culture. Created in the 1930’s (1933 – 1936), Black Bat pre-dates Bat themed and black cloaked super heroes.
That’s one unique feature Dynamite offers by publishing Black Bat – new stories starring the earliest super heroes from the beginnings popular culture.
Black Bat #8 has a lot to offer, and seeing the complete plot in graphic novel format would be interesting:
- Real crime, police work, and super-hero themes
- Revenge and Redemption ideas and themes
- Great action scenes and strong artwork
- Good use of silence in character conversations
- Suitable for older teen readers, and college level teachers
When Tony, the Black Bat, speaks to Carol – the administrator and security officer keeping Black Bat alive – they talk about the consequences of letting a career criminal live. It’s in these moments that silence is used effectively. Space in the panel’s artwork also shows the disconnection between these characters.
Oliver Snate is under arrest, and in hospital after Black Bat’s assault on him. Carol and Black Bat grappled with a decision – kill Snate, or let him live to face the law.
Colours flare up in the comic when dramatic moments appear in panels. A young man in a suit attacks an old man in a sports jacket – the panel changes from cold grey to bright, warning orange when the first punch is thrown. Selectively using colour to tell a story otherwise depicted in muted tones of green and grey is an effective choice, and makes some panels punchier than others.
Green, a colour that some detergents and cleaning products use, turns up in washes of green light across all the panels set in the hospital. This colour choice creates an antiseptic, sterile tone.
It’s another example colour used effectively in comics and graphic novels.
Look out for several popular culture references that turn up, hidden in plain sight.
- Jules and Vincent from Quentin Tarrantino’s Pulp Fiction make an appearance.
- Later, a police commissioner resembles the clean-shaven Walter White from Breaking Bad.
Keep an eye on the sequences of panels when the art spreads across two pages. Theses scenes are excellent examples of sequential art.
Themes, Ethics, Values
The key theme of redemption plays out in these pages. Oliver Snate and Black Bat have a history. The bat could have killed Snate and take revenge. He wants redemption for everything he’s done in his past life, however. Revenge and murder – crime – don’t fit the Black Bat, or Tony Quinn’s new identity.
Close to the end of the comic, Black Bat heads out at night to attack a crime family. He says they are ruining what was once a proud neighbourhood. Crashing into a bar, Black Bat demolishes the families security. What he find when he breaks into the back room is not what he expected.
Black Bat has broken into a funeral.
It’s a humanising moment for characters that Black Bat himself referred to as “Bad Guys” just one scene earlier.
“Bad guys” have families too.
Black Bat reflects on the difficulty of redemption. Changing from the man he used into something more turns out to be a far more difficult and complex path to walk then he expected.
It’s a good thing to read a comic that candidly shows the difficulty in making changes for the better. That’s the key ethic here – redemption is a hard path to walk.