Thursday, 12 May 2016
Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #54: Sanctum Review (Dan Raspler, Mike Mignola)
Mike Mignola drawing Batman? Automatic sale! So this one is from November 1993, around the time Mignola began his first Hellboy book, Seed of Destruction, and then everything changed for him after that. This comic - Legends of the Dark Knight #54: Sanctum - is basically a dummy run for Hellboy with Batman as the protagonist.
Though Dan Raspler (a guy I’ve never heard of before) is credited as the writer, Mignola also contributed to the story and it really shows. The issue opens on a moonlit night in a graveyard filled with cherubic Victorian-esque gravestones - pretty much Mignola’s favourite location to draw!
Batman’s fighting some blood-collecting creep called Lowther and makes a meal of it, accidentally kicking him onto some spikes; yeah, Batman kills someone. That was pretty shocking but because this is the Legends of the Dark Knight, a series that focuses on Batman’s early years, I suppose it was intended to show an inexperienced Batman - someone who hadn’t yet learned to not kick people onto spikes?
From there Batman meets a malignant spirit who monologues for the rest of the issue, covering other Mignola staples like 19th century secret societies worshipping some obscure demon/god, lost loves, eternal life, blood sacrifices, black magic, and so on. It’s pretty clunky exposition and not the most interesting of stories. You could also basically replace Batman with Hellboy and it’d work just the same - maybe better because Hellboy doesn’t have the same no-kill code as Bats.
Mignola’s art is definitely the highlight of this comic with little else besides to recommend it. If you want to check this out for yourself anyway, it’s up on Comixology.
Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #54: Sanctum