Joker, Catwoman, Riddler… Killer Moth?
The ‘lethal lepidopteran’ doesn’t sit easily on a list of Gotham’s greatest villains – if it wasn’t for his role in the origins of Batgirl, he’d likely never have survived the Sixties. The latest DC Digital First Batman story, though, repositions Killer Moth, massively increasing his role in Batman’s life.
Mark Russell’s tale flashes backwards and forwards in time, beginning with Batman musing, during the villain’s latest crime spree, that he’s the one bad guy he’s never unmasked.
Think about that. In years of encounters, Killer Moth, alone among his foes, has never been apprehended by the Caped Crusader. It’s safe to say this story isn’t in regular DC continuity; as with his Swamp Thing tales, also produced for the Wal-Mart 100-page giants, Russell is going his own way, with brilliant results.
Because this is an instant classic – it’s only 16 pages, so I won’t give much away, as the twists and turns are a big part of its success. I will say that if you enjoy Alan Brennert’s DC work as much as I do, this is something you’ll likely love. Like Brennert, Russell plays with the passage of time in the DC Universe to show how things might be if characters didn’t have to remain trapped like flies – or moths – in amber. Russell gives us all the slam-bang slugfests a superhero fan could ask for, but along the way laces in strands about inspiration, choices, compassion and more.
Ryan Benjamin’s pencils serve the story wonderfully well, being punchy when fighting is to the fore, more elegant when it’s all about the emotion. Richard Friend’s scratchily effective inks bring a Jim Lee feel to proceedings, basically demonstrating that I’ve been putting credit in the wrong account for quite a while. Alex Sinclair’s colours help ensure we know what time period we’re in, but what really stands out is his treatment of Killer Moth’s wings, his approach giving a fine impression of iridescence. And Troy Peteri’s lettering is especially excellent on the emphases. In the editorial seats are Katie Kubert and Liz Erickson, so kudos to them too.
Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira and Adriano Lucas pencil, ink and colour the cover image, a nice entry point to a story that surprises from beginning to end. I may start a campaign for DC to resurrect Year’s Best Comic Stories right now so this can get the attention it deserves. Seriously, if you’ve access to digital comics, or can find a copy of Batman Giant #5, check it out and tell me this isn’t a winner!