Originally published in 1990 within the pages of Legends of the Dark Knight, DC Comics compiled them into the graphic novel Batman: Gothic. It is written by Grant Morrison and illustrated by Klaus Janson.
A child killer named Mr. Whisper has returned to Gotham City after a twenty-year absence. He is exacting vengeance on a group of crime bosses that had attempted to kill him. When Batman confronts Mr. Whisper, he realizes that this man has “no shadow.” This sparks memories of a young Bruce Wayne attending a private school and being beaten by the principal, who also had no shadow. This leads the World Greatest Detective on a deadly mystery from the streets of Gotham City to the gothic history of Europe where a killer who made a Faustian bargain with the devil is waiting in the wings.
Morrison brings us an unusual tale from Batman’s mythos. It is much darker, dealing with a serial killer who targets children, a Dark Knight who is forced to protect villains, and has to face occultic powers. That is not to say Batman has not faced the occult before, but Morrison definitely puts a better spin on it and connecting it to Bruce Wayne’s father was very intriguing. His personification of the Batman brings a Dark Knight Detective who solves the case and works to protect Gotham.
One of the most curious things about the story is its lack of supporting characters, outside of his faithful butler Alfred Pennyworth. There is no Nightwing, Robin, Batgirl, Lucius Fox, or even Commissioner Gordon. Normally, I criticize writers for ignoring the Batman Family, but I give Morrison credit for keeping the story interesting by focusing on how the mystery is solved. He pulled it off incredibly well and made a smooth landing.
Likewise, Johnson does an excellent job with the art. He does an excellent job with the character designs, which mimic the Batman suit of that time. I also liked how he designed the creepy architecture that Batman has to investigate to solve the mystery. It added an excellent aesthetic for the creepy story.
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