I wasn’t planning on reading Man-Bat #1, but the pairing down of the DC Comics line during Future State, and my lack of enthusiasm for Future State in general, left me with a hole where my reading pile used to sit. I decided to give it a chance even though I was unfamiliar with the creative team and I’ve never been much of a fan of Kirk Langstrom.

I’m glad I gave it a chance.

Man-Bat #1 give us the story of a man who desperately wants to be a hero, but instead finds himself an addict of his own ego, unable to realize that he can no longer control himself or his alter-ego during his transformations. In fact, his transformed self has taken on a distinct personality and that personality is beginning to wrest control away from the human that once dominated the body they share. To make matters worse, the constant experimentation has left Langstrom’s body in terrible shape and his life may be in danger due to cellular breakdown discovered by Batman.

There’s something more tragic about Man-Bat in this series than I remember from before, and I find myself rooting for him as the underdog. There’s actually a chance in the current environment at DC Comics that the character may be killed off in this series, which puts some real stakes on the table. It’s somewhat sad the poor state of comic book publishing and the financial burdens of parent company AT&T might be giving this series more gravitas, but you can’t really complain with the results. The story is more compelling, but it’s also good enough regardless to justify coming back for a second issue.

The artwork has a real Norm Breyfogle feel to it, which suits me just fine. Having found my way to comics during the Aparo/Breyfogle-Batman/Detective years, this feels right and I really enjoy how Sumit Kumar handles the action sequences, allowing the motion to move the eye through the page while NOT drawing every single individual action like many artists do these days. He’s a gifted storyteller and now that he’s caught my eye, I’ll be paying more attention for his name after this series.

I’m willing to admit that the lack of “real” Batman comics these days has left a hole that Man-Bat squeezed into rather easily, and perhaps that has jaded my perspective a bit. But the structure of the story, the fantastic art style and storytelling, and the fact that this comic dares to tell a story without trying to be “topical,” “trendy,” or “timely,” makes it one of the best things I’ve read in while.