Skullduggery has pencils by Marcos Martin, Inks by Mark Pennington, Colors by Tom McCraw, and Letters by Tim Harkins. In the final story in the compilation that is essentially a five page teaser for a villain that Vaughan would have made a central part of his run. The villain is impersonating several of Batman's rogues and pulling off crimes in their disguises to cover his future plots. He is the Skeleton. I love his design and the way his internal monologue about the characters feels so spot on to the complexities and personalities of the Arkhamites. I would love to see Vaughan continue a story line in the future with his The Skeleton character.
A PIECE OF YOU
A Piece of You has pencils by Scott Kolins, Inks by Dan Panosian/Drew Geraci, Colors by Pam Rambo, and Letters by John Costanza. Vaughan is ingenious for realizing that Clayface is made of clay and Wonder Woman is made of clay. So what happens if Clayface ever touched Wonder Woman? The answer: Clayface gets her powers acan now impersonate meta-humans. This bonding with Clayface leaves Diana weakened and younger so she looks like her clone in the DCU of yester year Donna Troy. Vaughan is great at pulling DCU characters in to fit and fill his story needs as he also gets Nightwing, Robin, and Oracle involved in solving the Clayface problem. With the story Vaughan is able to capture the complexity of Diana's character and her unique relationship with her own identity. Clayface also explores the types of crimes he can do impersonating Wonder Woman and Superman. Scot Kolins art is fantastic and serves the story perfectly.
CLOSE BEFORE STRIKING
Close Before Striking is the first story by Vaughan in the collection with pencils by Scott McDaniel Inks by Karl Story and Letterer John Costanza. This story is a three part story that Vaughan says in the introduction he did as an audition to see if he could get a regular run on Batman. He didn't get picked up for an entire run but these stories show an fun and ballsy attempt at adding to the Dark Knight Detective's mythology. The story plays upon an old Batman character Matches Malone who for the uninitiated is the guise that Batman puts on to get information from the criminal underworld of Gotham. He was alluded to in a couple of episodes of Batman The Animated Series.
The story opens with Matches Malone in a bar trying to get some info. Only to be told that the criminals of Gotham think he's a rat as the crimes he commits are routinely thwarted by the Batman. Just then right on cue Batman shows and puts a whooping on Matches. Then Batman and Matches leave the bar only to reunite and reveal that Nightwing/Dick Grayson was posing as Batman so that Bruce could reestablish his Matches Malone persona's credibility. Matches gets in with the Ventriloquist who is bringing cop-killer bullets into Gotham.
Batman uses the intel he has acquired as Matches and busts up the Ventriloquist's operation. However, Scarface is sure that Matches is an informant for Batman and wants him dead. Bruce is at home training, chilling, doing his out of cowl Batman chores, when he is interrupted by Oracle who has news that his cover Matches Malone is shot and bleeding out in a bar. Batman Rushes off to investigate with Nightwing who he then has to inform on the history of Matches Malone and Batman.