The second volume of Batman: Black & White is much like the first. Editor Mark Chiarello gathers together some of the most acclaimed writers and artists who then produce short stories about The Dark Knight. While I didn’t find the overall experience as strong as the first collection, there were still some pretty great tales inside.
The collection opens up on a strong note with some excellent artwork by the uber-talented Alex Ross. Ross brings his ultra-realistic style to a story written by Batman: The Animated Series scribe Paul Dini, about two doctors discussing whether or not The Joker really is as insane as he appears to be. The story that follows, dubbed “Batsman”, is a parody featuring The Caped Crusader. Unfortunately, it suffers from such an odd placement in the collection. I’m not sure why the decision was made to stick this light-hearted comedy after an intense and moody drama but I felt it ruined the flow and took me directly out of the book.
There are a few duds littered throughout that I didn’t really care for. John Byrne takes us back to an earlier Batman style, seemingly inspired by the 70s dynamic duo days before Frank Miller’s resurgence of The Bat in the 1980s. It’s not bad per se, I’m sure it captures the vibe that he intended, but it’s just not my thing. I prefer a darker and grittier Batman style.
While overall, I didn’t feel like it was as strong as the first volume, there are some gems hidden in here. Stories by Warren Ellis, Brian Azzerello, Harlen Ellison and a second tale by Paul Dini all shine and would be a crime to miss.