Image © DC Comics, Inc.
Annuals represent extra work for a book’s creative team which they may or may not have time for. Most often the writer does, but the artist does not. In the case of the team of Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato, both work on the story, but Manapul does the art, Buccellato does the dialogue and colors, so it’s a more welded team than usual. For this annual, Buccellato does the writing alone, the art is by three guys, Werther Dell’edera, Jorge Fornés and Scott Hepburn. I was curious to see how I’d like it. As it happens, I liked it a lot. This suggests Buccellato has a good handle on the writing.
While the story could stand alone, it does continue from the regular title, focusing on the drug Icarus. I’m not fond of drug trade stories, but this one has lots of interesting characters and complications. Batman is trying to track not only drug shipments but illegal weapons, all probably in the hands of a street gang making moves for power. Among them is a tough guy with a son who provides a lead for Batman, and another young man who plans to make one more big trade, then move on with his girlfriend…if he can avoid the temptation of the drug itself. Several story threads lead to a big confrontation between Batman and the drug lord armed with very powerful illegal weapons.
The art is in three individual styles, which is a little distracting, but they’re close enough that it didn’t pull me out of the story much. In all, this was well done.