The Black Bat Omnibus – Brian Buccellato (Review)

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Defense Attorney  Tony Quinn is ambitious and immoral in his rise to the top until he is asked to aid in the murder of a witness for the mob. He draws the line and refuses. In turn the mob makes an example of him. They cut out his eyes and dump him on a bridge, beaten and bloody.

Saved from killing himself by a mysterious benefactor, Quinn is given the opportunity to right the wrongs he had helped to create. Fitted with new eyes and enhanced abilities, Quinn becomes the Black Bat and wages his own personal war on the mob. But is the mob the true danger or is there someone even worse and who exactly is his benefactor?

Buccellato writes a gritty bloody pulp tale in his redux of the original Black Bat story from 1939. The Black Bat and Batman both came along at the same time and is very possible that they were both based on an earlier character from the Black Bat Detective Mysteries of 1933. While the Black Bat and Batman may be similar in their hero persona, their alter egos could not be more different.

Quinn is a ruthless and corrupt lawyer working for the mob who eventually disobeys his bosses when they ask him to give up a female witness. It is a line he cannot cross and for it, they cut out his eyes. In the 1939 telling, acid is poured into his eyes burning them out. A disfigurement that would be used years later in the Batman comics to explain the origin of Two-Face, the criminal who was Harvey Dent. Quinn is fitted with enhanced eyes that allow him to see in the dark, hence the name the Black Bat.

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This is pulp fiction as it once was told. Before the censors and the comic book code stepped in to temper the violence and sex that filled these dime novels. Buccellato does a terrific job of returning the comics and retelling of the Black Bat to its pulp roots. This release from Dynamite Entertainment is a wonderful fringe storyline for today’s comics. What makes that so amazing is that it is able to do that by returning to its roots.

A very good read.

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