You wouldn’t be off base thinking of Batman when you see the superhero The Black Bat, as their history and origin is linked in controversy. Both The Black Bat and Bob Kane’s Batman derived the look of their characters from common pulp fiction renderings. Both characters emerged at about the same time and the publishers Thrilling Publications and DC Comics sparred over rights until a DC editor who had worked with The Black Bat’s publisher mediated the dispute where both publishers could continue using the characters.
Which brings us to 2013 and Dynamite Entertainment. Dynamite has the rights to publish The Black Bat along with the great pantheon of classic 1930s and 1940s characters we have discussed before, including the featured characters in their ongoing series Masks: The Shadow, The Green Hornet, Kato, Miss Fury, Black Terror, Zorro, and The Spider. But don’t confuse the Black Bat with a similar modern noir retro-creation, Francesco Francavilla’s The Black Beetle from Dark Horse Comics, which we previewed here at borg.com earlier. But both The Black Bat and The Black Beetle are different enough and similar enough that if you like one you probably will like the other.
The Black Bat is written by Brian Buccellato with art by Ronan Cliquet. The Black Bat is the alias of Tony Quinn, a former defense attorney who represented one too many crooked clients, resulting in a criminal gouging out his eyes. His eyes were replaced with strange, creepy replacements and like Daredevil’s Matt Murdock, he becomes a blind man by day and superhero by night. Only Tony can actually see all the time–including in the dark, like Riddick from the Chronicles of Riddick, but Tony uses his blind-appearing eyes to masquerade as a blind man. The group that replaced Tony’s eyes with special night vision replacements is a bit of a secret hinted at in Issue #1–in essence Tony is given a similar shot at a future as was given to the Bionic Man and RoboCop.
Issue #1 is an origin story but more than that it delves right into the first mystery of the series as Tony takes on his first baddie in a disguise given to him by a member of the secret organization that gave him his sight back. It’s a good first showing by Buccellato and Cliquet–enough to make you want to investigate past stories about The Black Bat.
Look for J. Scott Campbell’s primary cover and alternate covers (all shown above) from Batgirl’s Ardian Syaf, as well as Joe Benitez, Billy Tan and Marcos Martin.
The Black Bat hits comic book stores tomorrow, May 1, 2013.