Title: Batman: Reptilian.
Writer(s): Garth Ennis.
Artist(s): Liam Sharp.
Colourist(s): Liam Sharp.
Letterer(s): Rob Steen.
Publisher: DC Comics.
Release Date: May 31st, 2022.
Genre(s): Comics, Superheroes, Science-Fiction.
My Overall Rating:
In his quest to rid Gotham of the villainy and treachery that pervades its streets, Batman has always hid in the shadows, striking fear into the hearts of those he encounters, forcing the intent to commit crime out of the molecules of their skins, and sending them cowering, hoping that they’ll always think twice before ever dancing with the devil. But what if there was something far more frightening, ruthless, and unpredictable hiding in the shadows than a billionaire dressed as a bat? What if this thing didn’t have human consciousness and could terrorize Gotham in unimaginable ways, leaving the criminal underworld so shaken that only a pool of blood and crippled bodies are left behind? Legendary comic book writer Garth Ennis teams up with artist Liam Sharp to deliver a bizarre six-issue DC Black Label stand-alone title starring a brand-new and terrifying threat to Batman’s rogues’ gallery.
What is Batman: Reptilian? The story is set within Gotham City with Batman following the tracks left behind by a cruel and unforgiving freight train of a monster who happens to only be hunting down the villainous powerhouses of the criminal underworld, such as Penguin, Riddler, Poison Ivy, and so on. With only Alfred and a Russian thug with connections by his side, this mystery leads him to shocking crime scenes that further corroborate the sole fact he’s got: there’s a monster out there. Inquiring the streets for clues to pin down the nature of this threat but also this unstable creature’s prime motive, Batman finds himself confronting Killer Croc only to discover a shocking truth that will require him to take drastic measures in solving the world’s strangest case.
“The Batman never kills.”— Garth Ennis
What in tarnation is this? You’d think that any idea oozing out of writer Garth Ennis’s (The Boys, Preacher, Punisher) mind would be dark, twisted, and marvelous. This time around, he indeed presents readers with a gritty, crude, and ugly tale but fails completely in all respects, whether it’s characterization, as he butchers Batman’s persona and offers an irritatingly verbose, sassy, and unamusing take on the superhero, or the narrative structure, as the mystery at the heart of this tale is the only driving force of the story and is ridiculously solved in the final issue to make the whole adventure effortlessly forgettable. The twist of this story is also an astounding disservice to Killer Croc’s character (you wouldn’t believe me even if I told you what it was), tastelessly butchering his background and nature for the sake of delivering a ludicrous, unoriginal, and dull surprise regarding the story’s mysterious main antagonist.
Although this graphic novel was originally going to be drawn by the late Steve Dillon, artist Liam Sharp dedicates his work in honour of his friend to bring about a murky and bleak artistic vision to writer Garth Ennis’s story. His style, unfortunately, is an acquired taste, at times painting (yes, the whole story is painted) some depressingly gorgeous panels, but at other times portraying characters in odd and absurd designs or with comical expressions that seem incredibly out of place. There are also some serious creative liberties taken for iconic characters, notably the Joker, who look nothing like anyone would’ve ever imagined for these characters. The reveal of the main antagonist is also enthroned through impressive artwork but doesn’t strike as a novel concept, mostly reminding readers of cult classic figures. In the end, this graphic novel is not the surprise any fan would’ve expected to get and, hopefully, isn’t the beginning of this creative team’s descent into mediocrity.
Batman: Reptilian is a phenomenal disappointment that mutilates a beloved villain’s background through a lackluster and mediocre horror mystery.