I’m never quite sure what path a Batman trade is going to take. There are some that are brutally sinister, almost to the point of being sadistic, while others are so absurd as to be downright silly. This trade manages to fall somewhere in the middle of the two, but rather than feel disjointed, the comics actually feel perfectly written.
Legends of The Dark Knight collects stories drawn by Norm Breyfogle and I must say, his drawings capture the stories perfectly. Many artists, no matter how talented they are, draw in a specific style, lending themselves to stories that either have a lighter or darker tone. Breyfogle is capable of drawing for both styles of story, allowing for issues that can include moments of violence as well as brevity.
That brevity is something I’ve particularly come to appreciate in these comics, specifically in Batman. After all, laughter isn’t exactly the first emotion that bubbles up when one thinks about the caped crusader. Yet there are stories that endear him to me, not as a vigilante hero, but as a person. None do this more than those rare panels that depict Batman in a light-hearted situation, usually with an unexpected, goofy expression on his face:
You know, such as when the demon Etrigan (hey I know who that is!) plants a kiss on his cowled face.
(Also, I kind of love Etrigan. His rhyming and his banter paired with his truly terrifying powers makes him pretty damn awesome. Can he be in more comics, pretty please?)
I love these moments because they’re so unexpected and out of character for the ever-serious Batman. It humanizes him, reminding readers that beneath that mask he’s still just a man.
It was also entertaining to see so many familiar characters popping up in this trade. Besides Etrigan, perhaps the biggest character return is that of Clayface.
Or rather, Clayfaces, as in all four of them.
The concept of combining all four variants of the Clayface character into one story arc was pretty brilliant, and the concept actually made sense. United in their quest to destroy Batman, the four Clayface incarnations join forces to defeat our hero.
Seeing all of the Clayface characters appear together was fun, but I admit I was most excited to see that the original Golden-Age Clayface, better known as actor Basil Karlo, was included in this story and was in fact the primary villain. Desperate to have actual shapeshifting powers of his own, Karlo turns on his accomplices and extracts blood from them so that he can become a true Clayface:
With powers of all the Clayface characters in one, Karlo is indeed a formidable foe, and one I suspect will be cropping up in future stories. Yay for the resurrection of a Golden Age character!
What made me most excited in this trade, however, was the reappearance of one very particular character.
That’s right, after a brief time away, he’s made a triumphant return.
Sassy Alfred is back, and sassier than ever.
He is having none of Batman’s shit, when he receives a phone call in the middle of the night:
And he has no problem overstating his abilities to lend a hand:
Alfred, please never use the phrase “pack my rod” ever again, please and thank you.
Sassy Alfred is without a doubt one of my favorite characters. Thank god for his snarky humor. He injects a light-hearted feel into otherwise serious moments, and I love every minute of it.
I need to start a petition for Sassy Alfred to have his own comic. Basically just the Batman comic from his perspective, with him muttering about having to sew up all of Batman’s torn suits and not getting paid enough to put up with Bruce’s shenanigans.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go daydream about how incredible that comic would be…