Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Batman: Night Cries deals with a heavy topic: child abuse. Published in 1992, one might expect it to be preachy or overwrought, but it actually holds up fairly well. Known child abusers are being systematically murdered in ways reminiscent of the abuse they inflicted, and both Batman and Jim Gordon try to track down the killer. The stress of late nights and early mornings really starts getting to Gordon, as do constant nightmares about the physical abuse inflicted on him by his own father. The emotional trauma gets to the point where Gordon almost takes it out on his own son, but decides to break the cycle by sending his wife and son away so he can get counselling. Meanwhile, Batman investigates angles relating to a potential drug war and more before tracking down the real killer. There's only room for a limited number of suspects in a stand-alone graphic novel like this, and it's not too hard to guess the "who" in this whodunnit, but there is a nice twist regarding motivation. As I've often mentioned, I'm not an art guru, but I thought the painted work by Scott Hampton perfectly caught the tragic, moody atmosphere that fit the story quite well. This certainly isn't the feel-good book of the year, but some recognition should go towards Archie Goodwin and Hampton for a sincere attempt to bring more attention to such a terrible phenomena.