Sunday, June 22, 2014

Batman: Death by Design

Written by Chip Kidd
Art by Dave Taylor

Having given up on the monthly (or weekly) grind of Bat-books does not take away the desire to read a well-constructed and plotted Batman story from time to time, and so I was quite happy to dive into Batman: Death by Design, an original graphic novel that is as (or more) concerned with visual aesthetic than character.

Chip Kidd is known for his design work, and so it makes sense that the Batman story he writes would be about architectural intrigue.  The story is set in a Gotham where people care about buildings and what they signify.  Bruce Wayne is in the process of replacing the Wayne Central Station, a hulking and beautiful building that was built with every possible corner cut, making it a danger to the commuters and tourists intended to pass through it.  Even though tearing the building down would involve erasing part of his father's legacy for the city, Bruce sees the value in building a new station, one that he can place a secret transit hub for his alter ego beneath.

There are protests, and the demolition work is sabotaged, which leads to the Bat-Man having to investigate (I love when his name is spelled like this).  Soon, we begin to come across a character named Exacto, who is always around when something bad is going to happen, such as the collapse of The Ceiling, a new nightclub perched high atop Gotham's streets (designed by Kem Roomhaus, which made me laugh).  Soon enough, we have a story with greedy union bosses, and even the Joker playing a role.

Dave Taylor provides the art for this book, and things look great.  His action sequences may appear a little stiff at times, but his eye for architectural detail is stunning, and his character work very nice.

I found that I really got into this book, although I don't like the over-reliance on a 'stasis field' device to keep Bat-Man safe.  It was a little too convenient.

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