Batman Arkham: Man-Bat

batman arkham man-bat cover trade paperback
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Art: 7/10

Fan of Man-Bat

Collection's story and art is all over the place

Comic Info

Comic Name:  Detective Comics (Volume 1)/Man-Bat/Man-Bat (Limited Series)/Secret Origins (Volume 2)/Showcase ’94/Batman:  Legends of the Dark Knight/Batman:  Black and White/Detective Comics (Volume 2)

Publisher:  DC Comics

Writer:  Frank Robbins/Gerry Conway/Martin Pasko/Jan Strnad/Chuck Dixon/Dan Didio/Frank Tieri

Artist:  Neal Adams/Steve Ditko/Pablo Markos/Kevin Nowlan/Flint Henry/Quique Alcatena/J.G. Jones/Scot Eaton

# of Issues:  13

Release Date:  2017

detective comics #400 cover 1st man-bat

Detective Comics (1) #400

Reprints Detective Comics (1) #400, 402, 407, Man-Bat #1-2, Secret Origins (2) #39, Showcase ’94 #11, Man-Bat (Limited Series) #1-3, Batman:  Legends of the Dark Knight Annual #5, Batman:  Black and White #2, and Detective Comics (2) #23.4 (June 1970-December 2013).  Kirk Langstrom has always had a relationship with bats from his childhood when he became lost in a cave for weeks.  As an adult, Langstrom’s attempt to harness the power of a bat backfired and Langstrom found himself transformed into the Man-Bat.  A battle is brewing inside Kirk Langstrom and controlling the Man-Bat is becoming harder and harder…the beast inside of him wants out and Langstrom might not be powerful enough to stop it.

Written by Frank Robbins, Gerry Conway, Martin Pasko, Jan Strnad, Chuck Dixon, Dan Didio, and Frank Tieri, Batman Arkham:  Man-Bat is a DC Comics antihero comic book collection.  Featuring art by Neal Adams, Steve Ditko, Pablo Markos, Kevin Nowlan, Flint Henry, Quique Alcatena, J.G. Jones, and Scot Eaton, the collection is part of the Batman Arkham series which collects Batman villain appearances.

I wasn’t much of a Batman fan growing up, but of Batman’s villains, Man-Bat was always one of the most intriguing.  A typical Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde monster set-up with Langstrom experimenting on himself, the character has that sympathetic tie that isn’t present in many of Batman’s villains.  Langstrom desperately wants to be a hero.

man-bat #1 cover review

Man-Bat (Limited Series) #1

The Batman Arkham collections are an interesting lot in that they often collect decades of work which stretches between DC’s “Crisis” titles that rework origins and the reality of the DC Universe.  Much of the collection rehashes Langstrom’s origin, but due to years of twisting and turning, it is a little unclear what the current origin is.  Did Langstrom become Man-Bat because he was trying to restore his hearing (much like Spider-Man’s Lizard) or did he do it to emulate and help Batman?  Was Langstrom trapped in a cave with bat-men type creatures or was that rewritten?  It is hard to gauge and makes the collection feel a little scattershot.  I did find one of the clever aspects of the Secret Origin’s story to be that Langstrom was unwittingly responsible for the bat crashing through Bruce’s window which in turn gave Batman his inspiration.

The art has drastically changed over the decades as well.  From Neal Adams and Steve Ditko’s early takes on the character to the grim 1990s with heavy inking, the art is highly in flux.  This also creates this wall with readers since the different origins and different art give different tones to the character and his motivations.

I do recommend these Batman Arkham books, but I have to recommend them with a warning.  They are a bit frustrating and sometimes redundant.  You get a lot of origin story rehashes, and it sometimes is a bit tedious.  The collections are also intentionally broad, but even in this collection there are issues missing that feel important to the arc of the character.  I would like the Batman Arkham series to continue, but I do hope that the editors keep a strong control to try to blend the stories together a bit better (and maybe provide inter-issue updates for issues that are missing).

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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