|ARKHAM MANOR No. 3, February 2015|
Rarely has the atmosphere been quite so claustrophobic or the Dark Knight himself been ‘darker’ than in “Cold Comfort”, as a heavily disguised Bruce Wayne crawls through the ‘bones of his house’ looking for the lair of a homicidal maniac.
Los Angeles-based writer Gerry Duggan and artist Shawn Crystal have really produced the goods with this issue to the point where it is hard for the hairs upon the back of your neck not to raise up as you slowly follow an unarmed and undercover Batman edging his way between the room walls of Wayne Manor panel by gripping panel. Indeed there seems to be a perfect synergy between all of the creative team behind this comic book, starting with the disconcertingly quirky, but very well-drawn, Crystal and Dave McCaig cover illustration of the Caped Crusader chalking dead men on one of his home’s walls.
Perhaps the best element to this particular edition however has to be that Duggan throws more than a few surprises into the mix as the story progresses. So whilst many writers would just settle for scripting a tense nervy journey through the bowels of a psychiatric hospital with plenty of ‘jump scares’ just around the next panel, he constantly has the reader even more on edge as revelation after revelation is intermittently feed into the action. Perhaps such writing is only possible once a title has had a few issues published, and the characters been blessed with a fair bit of pre-build as a result but the fates of Zsasz, Seth Wickham, Eric Border and ‘the nameless man in the wheelchair’ are, in the main, serious ‘didn’t see that coming’ moments.
Shawn Crystal is equally on top of his game with his ‘unique’ somewhat awkward-looking style of pencilling clearly at its best when it’s used to depict dark, unsettling moments of mild horror. Or possibly the artist has finally settled into a drawing rhythm for this title? Whatever the reason, the composition of his pages are also first-rate, whether it be single-panel layouts depicting Bruce Wayne’s search for a bloodied axe using the clues at hand or a series of thin vertical panels emphasising the confined fist-fight between ‘Jack Shaw’ and the mysterious serial-killer.
|The variant cover art of "ARKHAM MANOR" No. 3 by Nathan Fox|