Legends of the Dark Knight is a new digital series that takes place outside of the “New 52” (read: fake) continuity. This is classic Batman, right down to the underwear on the outside. The first 3 issues are stand-alone but they have a clear progression, both in style and substance.

Legends of the Dark Knight #1 “The Butler Did it”
Written by Damon Lindelof with artwork by Jeff Lemire.

This dark story presents a Batman in bad light. He’s just starting out as a crime fighter and is extremely cocky. While out on patrol, Batman sees a robbery that’s eerily similar to the fateful night he lost both his parents. His emotions get the better of him and he jumps straight into a trap. As he’s beaten to a bloody pulp, he wonders which super villain could have discovered his secret identity. Suddenly he remembers a drunken bet with Alfred. Bruce bet that unlike the other superheroes, who have weaknesses like Kryptonite or the color yellow, he has no vulnerability. Flashforward, Alfred appears and calls off the attackers. He collects a dollar from Batman’s utility belt and asks “Everyone has a vulnerability, yes?” It’s hard to say what’s more shocking, that Alfred beat the crap outta Bruce to teach him a lesson or that Batman’s utility belt is a glorified fannypack.

Legends of the Dark Knight #2 “All of the Above”
Written by Jonathan Larsen with artwork by JG Jones.

“All of the Above” is one of those quintessential stories that demonstrates why Batman can beat Superman, or any other superhuman for that matter. While on monitor duty at the Watchtower satellite, Batman single-handedly defeats Amazo, an android with the superpowers of the entire Justice League. It’s not just that defeat him but how he does it. Batman concocts his entire strategy in the moments after Amazo pushes him out an airlock. This way when he sneaks back on board he won’t need use too much brainpower, which would fire neurons detectable by the android. He almost doesn’t get back in, though. His teleporter remote control slips out of his hand, which leads to pure comic genius. Batman propels himself through space with Bat-shark repellant! Once inside, he turns up the heat to match his body temperature. That has added effect of creating condensation on the window, which reveals the words “think again.” Amazo is infuriated by the taunt and uses his heat vision to cross it out but the heat reveals the phrase written over and over again. Amazo scans for Batman using his X-ray vision, or as Batman calls it “the non-super human’s best friend.” He explains “when you can look through everything, you can’t see anything.” Amazo compensates for this by scanning one layer at a time. Batman uses this to his advantage by hiding behind a Batman mannequin. Batman manages to dismantle Amazo by reprogramming the teleporter, which he has plenty of time to do because Amazo predictably stops to listen to Batman explain how he got back inside. Batman never considers calling for help because he wanted to test himself against the powers of his teammates. “Prove that one man can take down all of the super beings,” he thinks to himself. “All of those people who live in the sky. All of the fliers. All of the above.”

Legends of the Dark Knight #3 “The Crime Never Committed”
Written by Tom Taylor with artwork by Nicola Scott and Wayne Faucher.

The world’s greatest detective preemptively stops the world’s dumbest criminal. Inside the Batcave, Batman tracks a swarm of suspicious purchases like a ski mask, crowbar, gun, gloves, and van. The culprit is laid off marine biologist, who plans to rob his his former employer using his own security card. Batman and Robin grab the would-be-criminal in the middle of the night and put him through the supervillain equivalent of scared straight. They explain that if he goes through with the robbery, there are two possible scenarios: the dynamic duo stops him and he goes to jail or they’re busy and the security guard shoots him. Either way his daughter ends up without a father. The man reveals his daughter is sick and asks what he should do. Batman says he knows. His advice: “Work it out.” They swing off and leave him stranded on a rooftop with yet another thing to work out. Just in case you’re imagining Bruce Wayne swooping in to save the day with a job offer, the issue definitively ends with the caption “fin.”

Legends of the Dark Knight is available every Thursday for just 99 cents per issue @ DC Entertainment.