This week from DC Comics we get a new Black Label series that has perhaps the most intriguing cover of the week. Batman Reptilian 1 presents an intriguing premise. Although exactly what that premise is remains a mystery. After reading this title, however, I suggest patience. It looks like the story will be good, but it takes its time getting there. The fact DC released this story as a Black Label title means I doubt it holds back when the scales hit the fan.

Reptilian 1 – Cover2Cover

The two covers look amazing. One looks creepy and the other looks like standard comic art, but implies a great deal with its content. Cover A looks to be an extreme close up of Killer Croc. The color and texture look great, but it’s the iris in the shape of the Bat-signal that really makes it pop. Cover B may give up some points on detail compared to the A cover, but this one adds possible story that really makes readers ask what the hell is going on.

The first thing that really pops is the rogues gallery in the background. We see all the biggest rogues in the Bat-gallery, but all of their eyes have Xs on them. In typical cartoon form, this means the character is dead. Are we going to see all of these characters killed in this story?! Catwoman too?! We get some direction in this issue that will suggest one route, but I’ll come back to that. The one thing that jumped out to me immediately was Batman’s eye. Instead of an all white lens or regular eyeball, the iris looks like a reptile’s eye with the vertical iris. My first thought went to: Will Batman become part reptile in this story? He transformed into a Vampire and worse in other titles. Anything is possible.

As for the artwork inside, the art looks very similar to the style used in Kingdom Come. The characters look very real and hyper detailed with reality. This style generally takes a bit of acclimating, but it helps portray emotions very well. The story normally ends there, but this title goes a bit beyond the hyper real look. Most of the characters look good, but about half way through the issue we get a good look at some of the villains like Joker and Penguin. They look like shit! Anyone that remembers Mad magazine might have flashbacks.

Reptilian 1 – Fists of Fury

The description of this title may sound uninspiring. In some ways it is, but take it with a grain of salt. While there are some great things in this first issue, that was the feeling I had when I finished this. I’ll come back to that part though. One of the best things about this first issue boils down to one thing – Batman. The nice thing about this title being a Black Label is creators don’t need to hold back. They can be tough, gritty, and cross lines they would not normally do. This title does an amazing job portraying Batman like we all think he would be in real life.

The opening scene starts on courtroom steps. Yet another thug looks to skate free of charges because ‘Batman said so’ doesn’t work. His slick ass lawyer informs the press he will be pressing defamation charges against the city. The lawyer throws some shade at Batman and calls him out for not being in court. Unfortunately, courtroom steps are not the same as an actual courtroom. Batman shows up and does what he’s second best at – mental manipulation. He calls the heavyweight brute out on his actions. It’s one thing to hide behind a lawyer, but to have someone who frakked up your life and busted you calling you names can go too far. Sure enough the Champ buckles and takes a swing at Batman. Batman rolls the shoulder then does what he does best – punching. The champ gets KO’d flat. “Self defense” says Batman.

The rest of the issue focuses on a crime scene. Remember earlier when we talked about the B cover showing all the dead rogues? Well two are down. Scarecrow and Mad Hatter were not only found dead, but gutted. In fact one body was half way inserted into another. No one knows who did it, but Batman knows how to find answers. I love the back and forth between Alfred and Bruce while we learn all this.

Where Did the Point Go?

Konstantin Volkov. Batman thinks he might be know something, so he heads down to the local seedy bar. Some think they can stand up to the Batman, but a quick Batarang between the legs shuts up one thug. I love Batman demands the batarang back, after the thug cleans it. Then we move to Volkov. The confrontation on the rooftop is pure Batman! The thug knows Batman doesn’t kill. He even makes the mistake of throwing it in Batman’ face. Batman dares Volkov to walk away. Despite all Batman’s limitations, he still scares the crap out of Volkov. Volkov wilts immediately. Only the info he gives up shocks even Batman. Apparently, Riddler and Penguin were butchered with Penguin nailed to the ceiling! That’s four down.

Volkov speaks of a meeting where all the major rogues met, but half way through the meeting everyone felt a wave of anger and mistrust. Everyone pulled guns on everyone, but then the feeling faded. Did they experience some sort of mind control? Batman again threatens Volkov. Not killing means the pain never ends……and…….

Batman vanishes and Volkov returns home. He tries to sleep, but he gets scared, flips on the light and freaks out! To what we do not know. The issue ends. I am completely confused. While we get an amazing portrayal of Batman and his power of intimidation, what did we learn? Four major rogues lay slaughtered, but by who or what we do not know. The whole scene with Volkov led us nowhere. Where were we going with this?

Reptilian 1 – Patience

This is where my title comes in. This is an amazing title all said and done. It truly nails the Batman persona and looks to be setting up one hell of a story, but after issue 1 it made very little headway. The series is called Reptilian, yet absolutely nothing reptilian ever surfaces. Could Croc be behind the murders? It’s possible. It fits his style, but Croc lacks the power to take down major rogues like Scarecrow, Hatter, Riddler and Penguin. Also, why would he? Croc does not run crime syndicates. He muscles for them.

Or could someone else be behind all this? Perhaps Croc will not be the villain but the help Batman desperately needs to end these slaughters. I finished this first issue frustrated by the lack of answers and direction of anything related to the title, but in the end the writing is amazing and the story feels promising. Patience. Let this issue of Batman Reptilian play out and I think it will be a good one!

What did you think of this first enigmatic issue of Batman Reptilian? Head over to DC Fanatics on Facebook and tell us where you think it’s going.