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“Someone’s out there pretending to be Batman”

Batman: The Imposter Issue 1

Matt Tomlin

Andrea Sorrentino (@And_Sorrentino)

Jordie Bellaire

Review by Chris Ceary

Content warnings/Trigger warnings: graphic violence, mental illness

How do you prove yourself innocent of a crime without revealing your identity? When Batman is framed by a murderous imposter, he faces this struggle. Yet the imposter may be the least of his trouble. Therapist, Leslie Thompkins, knows his true identity, and he has to prove to her he is not a danger to himself and others or she will reveal it. Matt Tomlin brings his sensibilities from working on the script of the upcoming The Batman movie to Batman: The Imposter with gripping art by Andrea Sorrentino, for this 3 part mini-series. 

Batman: The Imposter is a classic noir in many ways. The story weaves together two separate investigations. As Batman searches for the imposter, Detective Blair Wong searches for Batman. Detective Wong is a welcome addition to this story and both threads are interesting to follow.  The elements are not new, but the combination is effective. For fans who enjoy a story where Batman gets to be a detective, this is likely to be one to get.

When words like “prestige” and “gritty” are attached to a comic, it can sometimes be a warning sign that the story is going to be unrelenting and heavy from cover to cover. However, Tomlin is a rare writer who explores the reality of superhero life without becoming marred in a bleak outlook. There is the pain and trauma you would expect from a grounded Batman story, but there is also some of the completely human ridiculousness as well. Municipal workers keep discovering ziplines around the city and the cops keep finding hidden Batcylces. It is this kind of detail that makes the story feel more realized than any street violence. Batman is a human and it is charming. 

The psychology of this story is particularly interesting (especially to a therapist in training like me). Thompkins is used to the best effect I have ever seen her in a comic. Batman may have his oath of justice, but Leslie has one as a therapist: she cannot break confidentiality unless she decides her client is a risk to himself or others. This is an emotional calculus that was never meant to include superheroes. How do you decide if an obsessive commitment to justice is justified or a health risk? In just a few panels, the story brings us on the journey of her conflict in a way that feels lived in. 

Sorrentino’s art is stark but compelling. It has the trappings of a traditional gritty noir, but layers in elegance in the movements. We see the articulation of Batman’s hand as he throws a Batarang. The comic also utilizes creative splash panels throughout such as montages shown through a bat’s wings or images in the letters of an onomatopoeia. The creativity and the elegance elevate the noir art style to be something truly arresting. 

Verdict

BUY. This first issue offers a number of intriguing ideas and plot threads. It is worth jumping on this journey if for no other reason than to see where it goes. Further, with one of the writers of The Batman attached, it is a good way to whet your appetite until the movie is out. 

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