Issue #2 of THE BLACK BAT thrusts Tony directly into explosive action, armed with his signature twin Glocks and transplant eyes. We're still not entirely sure what's going on behind-the-scenes, as his transformation from suicidal blind guy to rogue vigilante is still just being hinted at in flashbacks, but we know that he's got powerful allies and dangerous enemies. So far? It's all pretty standard for a pulp, and it comes with delightfully hard-boiled voiceover (I like to think that Brian Buccellato preps for this book by reading tons of Dashiell Hammett along with his Hemingway).
Ronan Cliquet's art coupled with Mat Lopes' grim colors thrusts this book right into what I'd term the "dirty thirties" -- the darker, grittier aesthetic that harkens back to the original Black Bat series, even when the setting is clearly modern. Comics have come a long way since the thirties, though, and it's nice to see clever paneling and dramatic angles in this update.
I'm enamored of antiheroes, and Tony Quinn fits the bill by having a dark past, some selfish motivations, and a muddled sense of right and wrong. It's difficult to like a character that doesn't like himself, but Quinn does a nice job of bootstrapping a sense of purpose and trading despondency for action.
The supporting cast is equally fascinating; they're incredibly mysterious, and Quinn's allies seem like they could either be steering him towards an unconventional win for the good guys or using him as a pawn for less-honorable aims. We know why they chose him -- he's not too goody-goody, and most importantly, he has nothing to lose -- but we still don't know what they ultimately chose him for.
While we respect Batman for not being a killer, when The Black Bat declares himself so, it seems oddly out of place. The man's packing heat, and he's reckless with his own life; since he's already on the dirtier side of "hero," I found myself wanting him to just fill a guy with lead. In a sense, I want him to cross the line that heroes like Batman won't, and I won't be sad if that's the direction he's heading in future issues.
Forget what you think you know about The Black Bat. Grab an "I'm Not Daredevil" tshirt in an unironic way, and if there's such a thing as an "I'm Not Batman" shirt, get one of those, too. Tony Quinn, despite superficial similarities to a couple of other dudes in masks, is very much his own brand of (anti)hero, and he very much has his own story. He's dangerous, he's a little bit unhinged, and he's got a powerful cast of friends (for now) that just might be able to help him get rid of a bomb.
I'm calling this a must-pull for fans of pulp comics, noirs, and good, explosive action. And for people who like their heroes a little rough around the edges.