Comics Review – Batman: Blink by Dwayne McDuffie and Val Semeiks

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Batman: Blink collects issues 156-158 and issues 164-167 of the original Legends of the Dark Knight series. Originally published in 2002 and 2003, it’s written by Dwyane McDuffie and drawn by Val Semeiks. There are two different stories collected here. The first is the initial 3-issue Batman: Blink storyline and the second has the pair returning to the same characters a short time later in the Legends of the Dark Knight series.

Blink is a blind man that has a special power that allows him to see out of the eyes of anyone he makes contact with. For years, Blink has been using this power to get rich by draining people’s bank accounts after seeing all of their information through their own eyes after touching them on the street. Things get messy when Blink makes contact with a man who turns out to be a serial killer. While trying to help the woman about to be murdered, Blink is mistaken for the murderer and it’s then that he makes contact with Batman.

This conceit about Blink being able to see through others’ eyes is sometimes used effectively to tell a Batman story from a point-of-view that readers aren’t used to seeing all that often. Rather than a straight-away inner monologue and shots of Batman brooding, McDuffie and Semeiks leverage Blink’s power to tell some of the story in first-person. It’s an interesting tool that helps separate Blink from any number of other “Batman must stop serial killer!” stories that got told during this same period of time. However, I would have actually liked to see more of this during the first story collected here. There was much of less of it in issues 2 and 3 and it ended up being a more standard Batman story. As is typical of Legends of the Dark Knight, the story is more grounded and based on Batman solving street-level crime. Apart from Blink’s powers, what you end up with is pretty standard 90’s/early 00’s Batman fare.

The second story in this collection “Don’t Blink”, finds McDuffie and Semeiks teaming up again for a new Blink and Batman tale. With the groundwork already laid during the first arc, McDuffie jumps right in a few months after the previous story ended. Replace a crime ring with the secretive federal agencies and the stage is set for a story that’s not that dissimilar from the first. One thing that’s pretty striking is that you don’t see Batman stories like this that often anymore. As the twenty-first century progressed there were fewer and fewer of these street-level stories where Batman is solving crime and a more concerted effort at over-the-top villains and blockbuster action. It is refreshing to read something smaller in scale, even if some of the content likely wouldn’t make it past the editorial desk today.

Semeiks’ art throughout both arcs is pretty consistent with the DC house style from this period but wouldn’t necessarily be that out of place on the stands today. It doesn’t feel dated, apart from the obvious changes to Batman’s depiction from 2002 to 2020. McDuffie has given Semeiks a lot of ground level action to work with. Absent is the rogues gallery that Batman is so famous for, but Semeiks gets to spend about half the book rendering Batman doling out justice on criminals and crooked government men.

All in all, I thought this collection was pretty enjoyable. Going on two decades since it’s been released, it still manages to hold up pretty well. There are most definitely Batman story arcs that have aged much more poorly. It certainly feels like a late 90’s/early 2000’s Batman story, but it’s still pretty effective today. It’s not overly dense and flows well. One thing that stands out is how much the characterization of Batman has softened compared to this fairly brutal version that was en vogue for about two decades after Frank Miller first started writing the Bat. Batman: Blink wasn’t ground-breaking, but it was a perfectly serviceable small-scale Batman story and a pretty quick read.

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