Batman: Gotham Nights #7 review

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!

5 thoughts on “Batman: Gotham Nights #7 review

  1. This was a favorite for me, too! I think your comparison of Russell to Brennert is spot-on. I love when a writer comes into the DCU and starts exploring every corner in shorter form stories, rather than going for an epic run. Russell seems to be going in that mode, with stories on Batman, Harley Quinn, Swamp Thing, and so on, in addition to his wonderful Wonder Twins. (And IIRC, he did a few Year of the Villain spotlight specials, too.)

    And over at Ahoy, Billionaire Island is coming back soon, too, and Second Coming will be returning, as well. Can’t wait to see what he does next. Right now he’s the writer who’s most likely an instant buy for me.

    Well, him and Kurt Busiek. I’m never gonna not read Kurt Busiek.

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    1. I’ve not heard of Billionaire Island, I’m going to find out more, thank you. I’d love to see Russell given a few issues of JLA to write and just told to go wild; it would be memorable.

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      1. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if it happens. He’s riding pretty high at DC right now.

        Billionaire Island is over at AHOY — only one issue has come out so far, but I think it’s going to ship on an accelerated schedule post-pandemic. And while you can get issue 1 on Comixology right now, you can also wait till next month for Captain Ginger Season 2: Dogworld #4, which will have the complete Billionaire Island #1 in the back as a bonus book. (Captain Ginger’s moved to digital-only for the time being, and this week’s issue, #3, has Dragonfly & Dragonflyman #1 in back.)

        Another book he’s writing that I forgot to mention: Red Sonja, over at Dynamite! I think he’s about 15 issues into his run. I’ve read the first 6, and they’re a great start. (I’m picking them up for 99 cents whenever Dynamite has a sale on Comixology, so I’ll be at issue 6 for an undetermined period of time — but soon as I can get more, I will!

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  2. Don’t make me read a Red Sonja book!

    Or maybe, do. I’ll try BI as a single issue, give Ahoy the cash, and besides, they have interesting shorts by smart young writers! I have all the D&D issues, I must get them read, I’ve been waiting for a warm afternoon. Hopefully, this weekend.

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