The Batman 2016 Annual #1 is a “Silent Night” themed talent showcase. Featuring art by David Finch, Declan Shalvey, Neal Adams, Riley Rossmo, David Finch, Bilquis Evely and stories by Scott Bryan Wilson, Steve Orlando, Paul Dini, Scott Snyder, Tom King.
This annual brings us all kinds of stories – action packed, emotional, and even creepy. Forty-two* beautiful pages of Batman. Below is my review of my three favorite stories.
1. “Good Boy”
The first story in this snow-packed collection, titled “Good Boy,” is a love story. If dogs are your favorite animal, be prepared. The scene is set with romantic snow, soft lighting, throat eating dogs (trained by the Joker), and a determined butler who still (after all this time) believes all wounds can heal.
Alfred names the new furry friend at Wayne Manor “Ace,” and begins his work on training the pup.
While Bruce Wayne doesn’t like their new furry guest, he puts up with him as Alfred is hard at work. Months go by and soon Bruce finds himself head over heals with Ace. The comic ends with a new set of bat ears for an eager doggy.
This story is exactly what my heart needed. Nothing like a geeky animal rescue story to get the tears flowing.
2. “The (Not So) Silent Night of the (HarleyQuinn).”
I really enjoyed the second story in this collection titled “The (Not So) Silent Night of the (HarleyQuinn).” Batman catches Harley with pastries and a bomb as she makes her way to the police precinct. She is given two choices: Arkham or Gotham City Limits. Harley is a hometown hero in Gotham but she is finding it hard to leave behind her criminal ways. As Batman drives Harley to the Gotham City limits, we end up witnessing a car ride that seems as if it’s being shared by two old friends. Along their drive through the city, we see a countless number of HarlyQuinn fans, including one young girl who is intent on defending a toy drive that is under attack. Harley becomes vocal about her displeasure in being dropped off at the city limits; but when the drive has ended, she gets out to find that Batman has driven her home to Coney Island.
I really enjoyed the story because it shows a softer side to Harley that isn’t often seen. I think there has been a big push in recent years by D.C. to make their female characters more dimensional. In my opinion, HarleyQuinn is far from being a feminist icon but I think she has become a symbol of female power and strength for all sorts of people. Once a psychiatrist, Dr. Harleen Qunizel spun into insanity when faced with the insane of Arkham. After becoming enthralled by the mind of one patient known as The Joker, Dr. Quinzel was manipulated by a psychotic clown. But there is no doubt Harleen is playing her own game while “Puddin” is around.
Bonus: New Series coming in 2017:
If “The Stag” is anything like its intro story in this annual, then I’m really looking forward to it. Batman fears the death of the biggest Philanthropist in Gotham and begins to realize that he can only save so many. Batman needs help — just like he always has.
3. “The Insecurity Effort.”
My final review of this post and the final story of this collection is titled “The Insecurity Effort.” A cloud of fear gas is causing the citizens of Gotham to be suffering from low-grade anxiety attacks — the kind where you become suddenly aware of all your flaws and all the things you regret, especially your deepest fears.
On top of the wide-spread panic is a criminal named Haunter, who has just escaped Arkham. Haunter kills people using their DNA. Is she and Scarecrow in cahoots? I thought batman was a bit weird in this comic — a little overconfident. And the villains were a bit dull but they really do well at describing anxiety. If you’re a Batman fan or a comic lover looking to continue the holiday spirit, this annual is for you.
“The thing about insecurity is, usually it’s invisible from the outside, but it’s all you see from the inside…”
*on ComiXology app
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¡PSST! © 2016 Rachel McGill. Reprint © 2016 The Black Lion Journal. A Contributor Submission Shared With Permission.