By Will Barber – Taylor
Following the last edition of The Dark Tales of The Dark Knight in which we looked at Batman journey to Soviet Russia in the 1980s to battle NVKDemon, this time we see Batman battle a threat in the modern day that results in Bruce Wayne becoming a man on the run in Nowhere Man (Batman Vol 2: 19 – 20)
Nowhere Man is a nice contrast to the previous tale, The Day The Earth Dies. While that story centred on the political struggle between America and Russia with superheroes thrown in, Nowhere Man is a nice, short story about identity and the meaning of it. Following the events of Death of the Family, Batman feels like he needs to be able reconnect to who he is.
At the same time, he discovers that an old friend of his has been implicated in a murder. While investigating, Batman discovers that the person responsible is Clayface. A former actor who ended up having the ability to change himself into other people and take on their appearance, Clayface’s ability has deepened; he now does not leave a trace of his original DNA while committing crimes, making it harder to identify him.
Using this simple basis, Scott Snyder weaves an interesting and developed tale about the true meaning of identity and self. Both Batman and Clayface have problems with their identity – Clayface wants to be able to take on the appearance and mannerisms of other people so that he can commit crimes; so that he doesn’t have to deal with the loss of his true self and can simply become someone else.
Batman, on the other hand, feels the loss of identity greatly; he isn’t sure whether his mission has any meaning after the events of Death of the Family and this makes him feel more vulnerable. Batman finally feels able to accept what has happened to him when he confronts Clayface and sees how his lack of identity has destroyed him and brought him to the brink of insanity.
Greg Capullo creates some great artwork for the story. Clayface takes on a particularly graphic and eerie look when he is changing into the various people whose appearance he assumes. Capullo also does great work illustrating a cameo from the Batman Beyond suit which appears in the comic, making it look like a chunkier version of the costume seen in the show.
Overall, Nowhere Man is a wonderful treat from Snyder and Capullo who make a simple but effective tale that will stay with you long after you have finished reading it.
Next Time: The Carpenter’s Tale.