I became excited for Chip Kidd’s BATMAN: DEATH BY DESIGN
when I first heard about it earlier this year. The setting -- the 1930s -- was particularly appealing to me; as was this following quote from the author on it’s premise...
“What if Fritz Lang had made big budget Batman movie in the late 1930s?” Or something close to that. Anyway…
Bottom line, I liked it. And that’s the biggest problem I had with the book: It only made me like it.
The artwork is fantastic. The drawings are basically black and white with just a small hint of color and it looks wonderful. It’s definitely not your traditional comic book and that’s a good thing.
The story, on the other hand, is only OK at best. In a nutshell, plot involves a boom of new construction in Gotham City. As new buildings pop up and old ones go down, a series of explosions rip through the city. The culprit? A masked vigilante. No, it’s not The Batman, it’s some dude that goes by the name “Exacto.” It’s up to The Batman to save the day…as he always does, right?
Of course, there is the requisite love story involving Bruce Wayne and some hot chick. In this case, the latter goes by the name of “Cyndia Syl.” In a word -- or I guess sound -- “meh.” Nothing we haven’t seen before in a Batman story be it in the comics, in animation, or on film.
One classic Batman villain is included in the story -- can you guess which one?
Yes, it’s The Joker. And he’s not the main villain.
In fact, I’m not sure why he’s included other than the fact that he’s The Joker and drawing him “1930s style” looks cool.
All in all, BATMAN: DEATH BY DESIGN is an OK Batman story that looks awesome. My recommendation is the pass on the hardcover and wait for it to be released in the less expensive paperback edition. - Bill “Jett” Ramey