The journey to Batman: Creature Of The Night #4 has been a long one. The series was originally announced in 2010 as a spiritual sequel to Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immonen’s Superman: Secret Identity, and health problems for Busiek and artist John Paul Leon resulted in a year-and-a-half delay between issues #3 and #4. But the series is well worth the wait, offering a chilling interpretation of the Batman mythos that leans into horror as it tells the story of wealthy orphan Bruce Wainwright and the demonic Batman with whom he shares a supernatural connection. Like Secret Identity, Creature Of The Night takes place in a grounded world where DC superheroes are fictional entities, and the creators are committed to exploring how the arrival of these fantastic figures would play out in reality.
Batman is a much darker character than Superman, and Creature Of The Night is a psychological thriller with supernatural elements that speak directly to Bruce’s tortured mental state and his righteous hunger for justice. Leon’s artwork is deeply attuned to this emotional frequency, and this exclusive preview of Batman: Creature Of The Night #4 spotlights how Bruce’s life has descended into chaos in the two years since he was fully possessed by the Batman’s spirit. This issue takes a different approach to the opening splash page highlighting a piece of Batman art from a previous era, showing an original page of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns art slashed by Batman’s claws in the middle of Bruce’s destroyed office.
The level of detail in these pages is staggering, with Leon’s rich inks bringing weight to each object and character to reinforce the realism of this concept. He’s a master at using shadow and light to create tension, and this excerpt immediately sets a disquieting mood that strips away any potential sense of inspiration from Bruce’s new lifestyle. Bruce’s moment of transformation has a Mignola-esque simplicity, showing his falling silhouette surrounded by a pale pink flame against a white background. These kinds of bold graphic touches are how Leon injects fantasy into the visuals without breaking from the overall realism, striking the ideal balance required to make Busiek’s script land with the most impact.