Coming out of Infinite Frontier one of the best new titles DC Comics started was Batman: Urban Legends. This anthology series has done well in spotlighting the greater Batman Universe. Especially with how many characters have not been given ongoings and mini-series Batman: Urban Legends has been an opportunity for other characters to get the spotlight. Now this series that has been running for the last two years has reached its final issue. Let’s see how things end with Batman: Urban Legends #23.
Writers: Jamal Campbell (Nightwing: The Director); Kenny Porter (Batman & Robin: Hot Pursuit); Dennis Culver (Arkham Academy); Joey Esposito (Batman: The Murder Club)
Artists: Jamal Campbell (Nightwing: The Director); Simone Di Meo (Batman & Robin: Hot Pursuit); Hayden Sherman (Arkham Academy); Vasco Georgiev (Batman: The Murder Club)
Colorists: Adriano Lucas (Nightwing: The Director); Simone Di Meo (Batman & Robin: Hot Pursuit); Jordie Bellaire (Arkham Academy); Alex Guimaraes (Batman: The Murder Club)
Letterers: Lucas Gattoni (Nightwing: The Director); Deron Bennett (Batman & Robin: Hot Pursuit); Pat Brosseau (Arkham Academy); Carlos M. Mangual (Batman: The Murder Club)
While Barbara Gordon investigates a lead that ties The Director to Trafalgar Media Arts College, Dick Grayson follows a lead at Southern Orlandeau Community Center. During his investigation, Dick Grayson notices a group of people in the community center going to a game together after a reform course.
While tailing them Nightwing is knocked out by a tranquilizer dart.
Hours later Nightwing wakes up to find his hands tied with the other group. The Director reveals they have all been cast in their new project of a maze they must escape before being caught by Flamingo.
Nightwing takes on Flamingo but loses track of the villain as he is still dealing with the tranquilizer’s effects. When Flamingo is about to attack a woman named Aliyah, she is saved by Nightwing and Batgirl, who quickly take out Flamingo together.
Nightwing and Batgirl then reveal they know Aliyah is The Director after everything they found in their investigation. After Aliyah shows off her cybernetics Nightwing and Batgirl are left wondering who was Aliyah’s, a college student, benefactor.
Elsewhere, another Director tells their team to cut the filming. End of the main story.
Each story in Batman: Urban Legends #23 is an example of what made this one of the stand-out series for DC Comics. There was a lot of great superhero action and quality character moments throughout each story. The only thing that holds the entire packaging back as a final issue is the leads featured heavily rely on one character which wasn’t the point of this anthology series.
What made Batman: Urban Legends such a great series is not that this was another series starring Batman. Batman was certainly a selling point but what made coming back to this series something to look forward to was all the other stories with other characters in the Batman Family. That is not at all the fault of the creative team. This was all on the planning of this final issue as at least the Outsiders, who have been heavily featured in this series, should’ve been given a one-shot style story. It would’ve been a great send-off to have other characters than just three of the four stories only featuring Batman, Nightwing, and Robin, who each already have ongoing or mini-series titles right now.
That annoyance for the final issue aside, the four stories in Batman: Urban Legends #23 all deliver great stories. The lead story with Nightwing and Oracle delivers on following up on the set-up from the previous issue of the new villain in The Director. Jamal Campbell does a great job of using the mystery of how The Director is manipulating people to take part in the “movies” filming and sharing online. What made this work was that it didn’t lean in on making the new villain pushed as a physical presence.
Adding in a previously established villain in Flamingo was a nice touch. This allowed there to be a villain that is a physically dangerous presence while not being the main antagonist of the story. It is also a great use of an underutilized villain as Flamingo and Nightwing have a history going back to the villain’s debut during Dick Grayson’s time as Batman. This is hopefully not the last time we see Flamingo as he would make a great villain to add to Nightwing’s rogues’ gallery featured in his series.
The only miss on the villain side of the story that Campbell did have is there is no resolution for Seer’s role in all this. In the previous issue, we saw that Seer was once again being brought into mess with Nightwing and Oracle. It would’ve made the reveal at the end in particular more impactful if Seer was involved with whoever the true Director villain was. That would make looking forward to when both villains pop up again in either Nightwing or Batgirls much more anticipated.
Back on the more positive side, Campbell continues to do a great job with writing Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon as a pair. Campbell played into the strength of both characters so the investigation into whoever The Director is can be done from multiple angles. They complimented one another while getting the investigation done quickly because they could take the time in their specialty. And we see that pay off with how they both equally breakdown how Aliyah made it so they could catch her as the Director.
The second story by Kenny Porter and Simone Di Meo was a great modern story for the early days of the original Dynamic Duo. This is something DC Comics has slowly started doing more of which is very much needed since there have been so many changes made to Batman’s history that showing how the Dynamic Duo worked in a more modern setting helps to build that out.
What worked with Porter and Meo’s story is that it pushes more of the family direction for the franchise. More and more we’ve seen what has made the Batman franchise a success is embracing the family aspect of Batman’s character. Showing this in how lines such as Dick Grayson saying that they aren’t just partners but a family affecting Bruce Wayne was well done. In one word you can see how Bruce had his eyes opened to the power of his influence as a mentor and father figure to the young Dick Grayson. This all coming from Dick Grayson’s time with his own parents as part of the Flying Graysons was also a great call to make this entire story hit on what Porter and Meo aimed to accomplish.
Meo’s artwork is fantastic. The artwork hits that anime art style that makes it stand out from what you traditionally see in a DC comic book. What made Meo’s artwork well is the sense of movement from Robin driving the Batmobile while Firefly chased them. The little touches of the way the Batmobile was positioned did get across this was how a young kid who only driven in arcade games would drive.
The third story that wrapped up the “Arkham Academy” by Dennis Culver and Hayden Sherman in a way that it’ll be interesting if we see it followed up on. What Culver and Sherman definitely nailed was the chemistry between the cast. They handled how the confrontation with Killer Croc had an impact on them. It pushes forward how Arkham Academy was set up as a place to mold these kids in a certain way.
This gets us to the final reveal of the Court of Owls being involved in Arkham Academy. This is one of those reveals that the follow-up will be what makes the story better or not. If it’s simply forgotten then the “Arkham Academy” story isn’t as impactful. With how Dawn of DC is going for the Batman comic books it’ll be interesting if Batman, Nightwing, or Batgirls follows up on this.
The final story featured in Batman: Urban Legends #23 was well done and properly bookends this series with the message of how important the entire Batman Family is to the franchise. Joey Esposito and Vasco Georgiev did a fantastic job using Thomas and Martha Wayne to show how Bruce has built a family for himself. Seeing how proud they are of the family Bruce has built was a good moving forward point. Even if it did break their heart that their fate had such a dark impact on their son seeing the supportive people that surround Bruce showed how Thomas and Martha understand the person he became.
This all hit on the note of how much building a family has really helped Bruce move on more than he has realized. Seeing him actually say this when later talking with Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne was well done. The Batman Family has become a true family for Bruce and it is the note that “happy ending” note that does put a smile on the reader’s face for the final issue of Batman: Urban Legends.
While I wish there was more of a variety of Batman Family members with stories in this final issue Batman: Urban Legends #23 has a great collection of stories. The creative teams all delivered stories that show why the Batman Family is great. Hopefully, we see more anthology series from DC Comics in the future as Batman: Urban Legends showed how to do that right for all their characters that have incredible legacy’s to explore.
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10