Batman: Legacy

Batman: Legacy
Batman Legacy graphic novel review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: DC - 1-56389-337-1
  • Release date: 1997
  • UPC: 761941209975
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: yes
  • CATEGORIES: Superhero

Legacy is a Batman outing from the mid-1990s, and as was common then, takes the city of Gotham as the over-riding focus, and extrapolates events outward into the series of all superheroes operating in Gotham, with Batman taking the lead. It’s now available in two forms. This already thick 1996 paperback covers the core story, while two bulkier paperbacks issued in 2017 and 2018 cast the net wider and continue events involving villains with an agenda. They’re reviewed separately, beginning here.

Before a cure was found, in Contagion many Gotham citizens died of a fast-spreading virus popularly named the Clench. However, the cure was revealed in the papers of an ancient and very secretive order, and the accompanying documents noted it as being just one of a number of deadly diseases, which is where Legacy picks up. The mystery of who unleashed the virus on Gotham in the first place is seemingly revealed early.

After real world covid it’s far easier to imagine a killer disease running through the community, so Legacy no longer reads as such an outrageous fantasy, and writers Chuck Dixon, Alan Grant and Doug Moench highlight the fears, the political response, and those attempting to take advantage. What they didn’t anticipate were the deniers, who don’t appear here. The spotlight swivels around according to whose series provides individual episodes, but the writers collaborate for a relatively seamless experience, with many of the same supporting characters recurring.

There’s a strong artistic line-up with Dave Taylor excelling, and the interesting combination of Bill Sienkiewicz inking Jim Aparo’s pencils, a fusion recognisable as neither of the two artists with strong styles (sample spread left). Graham Nolan (sample right), Staz Johnson and Mike Weiringo round out a solid group of Batman storytellers, but Jim Balent’s figures are weaker. Also to be considered is that this is the Nightwing ponytail era, which doesn’t look good under any of the artists, and there’s a lack of visual consistency to one of the major villains.

The story is artificially prolonged by placing three further cities under threat. Narratively, though, they act as an opportunity for Robin to escape from Batman’s shadow in Paris, Grant and Taylor to produce an atmospheric thriller in Edinburgh, and Batman to meet Lady Shiva in Calcutta.

Reflections of later reality recur in Dixon and Nolan’s final chapter in which there are concerns about not enough vaccine supplies, but overall Legacy drops into familiar patterns rather than leaping to originality. Like most 1990s Batman crossovers there are nice moments, but this is average overall. It appears to have been removed from Amazon’s US listings in favour of the updated version.