Batman: Contagion by Chuck Dixon

details
Title: Batman: Contagion.
Writer(s): Chuck Dixon, Alan Grant & Doug Moench.
Penciller(s): Kelley Jones & Vince Giarrano.
Inker(s): John Beatty & Ray McCarthy.
Colourist(s): Greg Wright & Pamela Rambo.
Letterer(s): Todd Klein & Bill Oakley.
Publisher: DC Comics.

Format
: Paperback.
Release Date: March 15th 2016.
Pages: 504.
Genre(s): Comics, Superheroes, Science-Fiction.
ISBN13: 9 781401 260682.
My Overall Rating:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

thoughts

There’s nothing like a pandemic to put humanity in turmoil. Recent years can certainly attest to the trials and errors that it has brought humankind to contemplate in hopes of retaining some form of normalcy, of familiarity, or of status quo. Unfortunately, misery, pain, and death bring us to envisage change and adaptation. It is after all wise to seek ways to prevent history from repeating itself, especially when numerous lives are lost, countless others are scarred for life. For the Dark Knight, a deadly virus is exactly what appears in his criminally-active city, the very one that continuously serves and protects, and taking down this latest invisible enemy is a task that goes beyond his usual line of business.

What is Batman: Contagion about? A lethal and mysterious virus has been unleashed on the unknowing inhabitants of Gotham City. Infected victims suffer through an incredibly terrifying ordeal, witnessing unbeknownst pain, before succumbing to death within 48 hours. While fear might be Batman’s greatest ally, it is now an invisible threat that has taken control over his city and he must work with Robin (Tim Drake) and Nightwing (Dick Grayson) to protect civilians and find a cure as quickly as possible. Throughout this race for answers, unusual allies tag along to stop this madness before the decimation of an entire population.

“Afraid of something that’s stalking every living soul in Gotham. Something they can’t even see. And who can blame them?”

— Chuck Dixon

It is quite in our nature to imagine worse case scenarios for humanity and writer Chuck Dixon and his friends looked into one that scars us today in unimaginable ways: a relentless plague. Collecting the entire Batman: Contagion storyline, as well as chapters that lead up to the classic confrontation with the mastermind behind it all, found in Batman: Legacy, this story does go down an odd path, maintaining the intrigue through potential subjects who might have the cure within them and a goose chase by a wild cast of odd heroes, such as Azrael, Catwoman, Huntress, and Poison Ivy, who all try in their own way to save their home by tracking down these individuals.

As you progress through the volume, shifting viewpoints between these characters, you are introduced to mostly mediocre to average stories that are all over the place, unified only by the premise of a contagion. Most of the characters exhibit a hint of their character’s most obvious traits without going much further than necessary into their psychological and emotional condition. However, one hero does catch the virus and tension suddenly increases as the stakes exponentially increase. Will that person survive? You would want to care but the story evolves in such a tiresome fashion that the only thing you look forward to is the end of this volume and the next story that will offer you the escape you were looking for in the first place.

Beyond what can easily be qualified as an anticlimactic and boring adventure with no particularly original or captivating twists, the artwork cements the frustrating reading experience. And what a visual trainwreck it is! It might have in fact been the primary reason behind this sluggish ordeal too. From oversexualized women antiheroes and villains to the amateurish artistic vision for Gotham City and just about any character that had the misfortune of being included in this story, there’s not much left to appreciate, whether it would be in the pencils, the colours, or the inking. Although it’s nothing that detracts the reader from understanding events, emotions, and action, the artwork certainly looked more to encapsulate the incongruous narrative direction than capturing the potential of this story arc’s premise.

Batman: Contagion is a dull and uninspiring chapter into the Dark Knight’s crimefighting adventures as he battles a plague, hunts for a cure, and searches for the mastermind behind it all.


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22 thoughts on “Batman: Contagion by Chuck Dixon

  1. Is it the pressure of constant story telling? We see this problem in tv shows all the time too. A good idea that then falls completely flat on its face. It is almost like the writers don’t know how to tell a good story even when handed a good starting point.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t really tell since it all depends how the comic book business over at DC worked back in the day (it’s an old story after all). I would imagine that it’s centered around bad story-telling direction with poor ideas behind explored left and right. This pretty much collects a bunch of different issues from different ongoing series written by different writers and drawn by different artists. I can only blame bad “management” as the main reason why this doesn’t succeed much (despite being a classic story). This is also why I prefer when it’s always the same creative team behind a story arc. More chances that the final product will feel more… cohesive…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. On a bit of a tangent, but your mention of Poison Ivy reminded me of a short mini-series about her that I picked up long ago. I think it had watercolor style artwork that drew me to it, because I was otherwise completely clueless about the character. Does that ring any bells with you, have you read a Poison Ivy series?

    Back to this one, sorry to see another Batman title that disappoints!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t picked up much or any Poison Ivy series, I think. Especially with water colour. Dustin Nguyen comes to mind when we talk about artists doing water colour but I don’t recall any Poison Ivy stories drawn by him.

      I’m, however, glad to have gotten through this classic story. It does lead up to other classic stories so at least I can say that I read it ha! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I saw the title and immediately hoped for zombies.
    Sorry this one didn’t work out well for you and turned out to be a bit of a bore with art that doesn’t do much to pump it up.

    Liked by 1 person

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