It has been a while since we had the chance to talk about Batman: Gotham After Midnight! The saga continues as the citizens of Gotham are running scared as they learn about a new villain rising in the city. Steve Niles does a fantastic job portraying a sense of urgency within Batman. Midnight, the book’s villain, is menacing to victims, while being motivating to Batman’s rogues gallery. Niles provides Midnight with the same charisma that Joker has. Midnight persuaded Scarecrow and Man-Bat previously to help in his/her violent mission. I said his/her because Midnight’s gender is unidentified. Midnight adds Clayface in this issue to the mix to assist.
Readers get their first look at Midnight’s face in the comic. It is a ghastly sight due to Kelley Jones’ huge, one-splash page of a bony, gaunt face. It’s revealed that Midnight uses a speaker attached to the throat in order to speak. Clayface learns from Midnight that he can absorb bodies and become a gigantic, building-sized monster. Niles and Jones make Clayface into a monster that is reminiscent of classic monster movies, such as Godzilla. Clayface gets colossal size and starts to terrorize the city of Gotham. Batman appears in a mammoth-sized robot to combat Clayface–setting up for a massive showdown for the next issue.
Writer: Steve Niles. Artist: Kelley Jones. All images courtesy of DC Comics.
So…did Batman survive? Niles and Jones work their hardest to make it seem that he didn’t. Readers know that Batman isn’t going out this easy. The cover of issue two features the Axe-Man going for the fatal blow on Batman. Chapter one of issue two begins with the thugs celebrating the death of Batman. A thug turns his back on Batman to call his boss about collecting a cash payment for Batman’s body. Axe-Man wants the Bat’s head so he swings only to be countered…by the Batman! Batman begins to fight the thugs where readers get treated to a two-page splash by Jones. It’s Batman jumping in the air to avoid bullets from the thugs. The art is amazing. It will make readers wonder how none of those bullets hit. These thugs have Stormtrooper aim. Batman defeats the thugs and captures Axe-Man. Batman lets one thug run away so the thug can inform others of the fear that Batman brings. Too bad that the thug won’t make it.
After the warehouse showdown, the one escaped thug gets cornered by a mysterious person. The streets of Gotham look ancient. It looks like the setting is from the 1800s. Niles and Jones may have wanted this to feel similar to Batman: Gotham by Gaslight. The mysterious person is revealed to be the person that the thug was negotiating terms for Batman’s body. The person is displeased with the thug for failing. Niles and Jones keep the design of the character in the shadows. They give readers a few small details. The mystery person has on a long trench coat with a top hat and a straw mask. It looks like the character has long hair from behind the mask. The character is carrying a staff that is revealed to have an extracting mechanism at the end of it. The character uses it on the thug, who screams into the night.
In chapter two of this issue, Man-Bat has broken into the Gotham Historical Society. Man-Bat is doing the same as Scarecrow. He’s not following his usual M.O. Jones draws Man-Bat as a monstrous, muscular bat with glowing green eyes. Man-Bat uses stealth usually to get a jump on his opponents. This time, he’s out in the open. Niles keeps changing up the usual traits of Batman’s characters, so readers get a fresh glimpse of how characters act not in their normal ways. Man-Bat evades Batman and escapes with the Skull of Ra. Nothing is given on the importance of the skull.
After Man-Bat’s escape, readers are introduced to the rivalry between Batman and Detective Clarkson in chapter three at the GCPD. Detective Clarkson, a female investigator, has been taking credit for Batman’s work. She has a good reason as she doesn’t want to condone Batman’s work as a vigilante. I feel that Batman complaining makes him seem weak. I know that he wants to strike fear into the criminals of Gotham, so that’s why he’s angry with Clarkson. Batman can strike fear with his actions. He doesn’t need to talk. After bickering with each other, they have a moment of laughter. Is Niles portraying a potential relationship between the two? After leaving the GCPD, Batman returns to patrol Gotham. He finds a ghastly sight, which I find to be amazing by the creative team. The thug who gets murdered earlier in the comic is attached to the arms of a gigantic clock on a building in Gotham. His blood runs down the clock. Something is definitely not right in Gotham. I like this imagery that the duo created, though it would be hard for a single person to do that to a body. That’s the end of issue #2!