Who’s behind the black mask?

This is a ‘Battle For The Cowl’ tie-in one-shot. The Black Mask, or someone dressed like him, is wreaking havoc in Gotham’s underworld and The Riddler, and Catwoman, are on the case. I have a fondness for film noir, and that’s what this issue reminded of as I was turning the pages. The story takes place from the point of view of two characters: The Riddler and Catwoman. The dialogue background colors were a great way to distinguish who was speaking during the issue and it added a nice touch to the atmosphere of the overall arc.

All of the Batman’s core cadre of villains are here with each getting their own quality time on the page. The Penguin, Harvey Dent/Two-Face, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, and of course Catwoman and The Riddler give a bow here. The writing drew me in and gave enough information to want me to keep turning pages, but not so much as to give anything away too soon.

In the very back of the issue is a special preview of ‘The Last Days Of Animal Man’, which is continued in ‘The Last Days Of Animal Man #1′ in stores late May.

Pablo Raimondi’s art in this issue seems to be a direct homage to the film ‘Batman Returns’ starring Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, and Michelle Pfeiffer. The Penguin’s likeness especially is a great rendition of Devito’s character from Tim Burton’s 1992 film.

I liked the way that the colors and shadows blended nicely with the mood of the story. Not too dark, and not too bright, but a nice combination. The pages were clear, crisp, and worked well with the dialogue to complete the plot.

The only thing I missed from the art was more sensuality from Poison Ivy. She just seemed to be standing there in each panel like she’d just woke up from a nap.

What to look for:
The Riddler and Catwoman looking for the same thing but with entirley different methods.

What might put you off:
I didn’t really care for the Riddler’s low-energy part in this tale. Don’t get me wrong. I like the writing. I just would have liked to have seen the Riddler show a little more energy.

This is a must read addition to the ‘Battle For The Cowl’ story arc and lays a great foundation which is continued in ‘Batman: Battle For The Cowl #3′ and ‘Gotham City Sirens’ coming soon.

Title: The Underground
Issue #1: One-Shot
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: 5/6/09
Writer: Chris Yost
Artist: Pablo Raimondi
Colors: Brian Reber
Letters: Swands
Cover by Ladronn
Editor: Mike Marts
Reviewed by JR Todd

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