When I picked up the current run for Batman: Black and White two months ago, I first read the fourth and fifth issues because those were the only available copies I could buy at the time. I received the latter issue more warmly than the former, to be honest. Basically, B&W is a collection of flash fiction concerning Batman and these stories are drawn in pencil illustrations as the title suggests. I have always been intrigued with the concept of writing and drawing Batman in black and white like a Japanese manga so I was very excited to get started with it then.
This very first issue is composed of five stories. Familiar names from the credits have already jumped out once I started reading, particularly Chip Kidd, Neal Adams, Joe Quinones, and Michael Cho. I claimed that the fifth issue is my favorite yet and this one comes close second. In fact, the overall visual look and feel for this is the most impressive and dynamic. Cho, Adams and Quinones' sketches understandably stood out to me the most. The range and detail of their illustrations are just exquisitely rendered page after page.
The most notable of the three has to be Neal Adams' whose art may be drawn in lighter shades than the other two but is probably the most detailed of all. He not only illustrated the story but he also wrote it, and it was a social commentary that questions Batman's heroism and symbol of justice. It was my favorite story out of the five because it forced me to question again the limited scope of Batman's ability to fight crime. Sure, he battles a colorful array of deadly villains and targets and destroys organized crime in Gotham City--but how about the small injustices that occur in the daily lives of its citizens? Neal Adams' story gives us a glimpse of how much Bruce Wayne himself as a person of immense wealth can also make a difference beyond being a vigilante.
My second favorite story is the one about Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy as drawn by Joe Quinones, who is one of the artists for Batman '66. His visual style had a groovy vibe to it which suited the comedic narrative pretty well. It was definitely reminiscent of both the sixties Batman and Paul Dini's animated series, and it's quite an irresistible combination. The other three stories were enjoyable too, but these two are the ones I favored the most. I only hope the next issues will be commendable collections as well.