In which I link to things I wrote seven years ago.

§ July 17th, 2013 § Filed under this week's comics § 7 Comments

I have to be completely honest with you, when I started to read this comic, for about half a second I thought “oh dear, the color printing is off-register” until I realized I was being stupid and that it was entirely intentional. It’s a pseudo-retro look that doesn’t really look like anything associated with this particularly property before, but still works perfectly well, like you’re watching an old TV show on a color television that doesn’t have the “hue” and “tint” dials set quite right…a feature, not a bug.

The comic itself gets the tone of the TV show about as close as it’s able, given that most of the actual impact of the show comes from seeing actual adults dressing in these costumes and acting out plots and situations right out of the comic books. (I went into more detail about this some time ago.) Twisting it back into a comic book makes it a peculiar artifact of a short-lived fad from before a whole lot of us were born…but that’s okay, because the comic gets much of what made the show so endearing. The earnestness and sincerity of the heroes, the goofiness of the villains, the moral lessons, the big ol’ sound effects, the overall cheerfulness…it’s a Batman comic that makes you smile, and when was the last time that happened? Yes, it lacks Adam West reciting the dialogue out loud to you, but trust me, you’ll hear him in your head anyway as you read.

This is one of those comics that I buy every month, out of my long-standing interest in Clive Barker’s creations, but is another case of my perhaps having lost the thread of the plot(s) over the last, what, couple-or-three dozen issues, reading one a month, every month, for years. I should, like I did with B.P.R.D., bust out all the issues of Boom’s Hellraiser run and read ’em in a row. Like with B.P.R.D., I still “get” the general thrust of the series, but I certainly feel like I’m missing some nuance and some subtle points here and there. I mean, as nuanced and subtle as you’d expect a Hellraiser comic to be. Anyway, while I’m still enjoying the individual installments as they come, a reread is definitely in order.

So the last few issues of this series, formerly Batman and Robin until the latest Robin’s untimely death, have been sort of entertaining in a completely bonkers kind of way, with Batman teaming up with various members of the Bat-family and generally yelling at them and being a jerk in the context of apparently mourning and rejecting the finality of his loss. Which, you know, that’s a not-unheard of response to someone’s death, but it makes for some odd funnybook reading. A few months of this was probably enough, and it looks like there’s some turnaround in this new issue…some closure and healing, I guess, in the appropriately superheroic and melodramatic manner…but not completely closed in order to string along the subplot of Carrie Kelley still thinking her former-student-who-was-secretly-Robin is still alive.

And that’s another weird thing about this series, taking Carrie Kelley from Frank Miller’s beloved Dark Knight Returns (and slightly less beloved but still, I think, bizarrely wonderful Dark Knight Strikes Again) and plugging her into the New DC Universe. The conventional wisdom is that, like in Miller’s works, she’ll become Robin…the subplot of Bruce allowing her to think Damien is still alive certainly seems like one road to that result…but really, who knows. It still feels a bit odd to see her removed from her original context, but maybe if she does eventually become the new Robin, maybe when Marvel and DC start their intercompany crossovers again she can team up with Elektra.

Pretty much Superman’s only horror story, brought to us by Steve Gerber and Gene Colan (with a follow-up drawn by Rick Veitch), finally under one cover and with non-muddy printing. There is a bit of dissonance seeing the art reproduced so cleanly and brightly after reading it on decaying newsprint for so many years (similar to my reaction to the Irv Novick Batman book), but it really is one of the best Superman stories of all time, and if you haven’t read it yet, you should read it now. I wrote a spoiler-filled review of it for another website if you want more info. But really, just get it. It’s great.

7 Responses to “In which I link to things I wrote seven years ago.”

  • Mike Zeidler says:

    Is “Phantom Zone” just the mini series? 160 pages seems like a lot for four issues.

    Might we be lucky enough for it to include DC Comics Presents 97?

  • Snark Shark says:

    “the big ol’ sound effects

    “ZAP! POW! BIFF!”

    “No, ‘BIFF’ is in Back to the Future!”

    “bust out all the issues of Boom’s Hellraiser run and read ‘em in a row.”

    He Has Such Sights to Show You.

    that Supes book looks cool! it seems like the only DC stuff I buy now is reprints!

  • swamp mark says:

    I’m really enjoying these semi-regular reviews.Keep it up.And thanx for the gracious e-mail.

  • Robert in New Orleans says:

    What a relief it is to read a Batman comic that’s fun. I guess we haven’t had one of those since the Batman: Brave and the Bold comic was cancelled. I liked that one, too. Something I really appreciated in Batman 66 was the art. It was loose and expressionistic in an almost indie comic way, yet still recognizably superhero-y. I wish mainstream super-comics had a wider range of art styles…

  • Mikester says:

    Mike Z. – The book does indeed include Gerber’s sequel from DC Comics Presents.

  • Lawrence Fechtenberger says:

    My own preference for a comic based on the Batman TV series would be one done in the style of the Dell and Gold Key TV adaptations: rather stiff art in the style of Alden McWilliams or Alberto Giolitti, with the faces only occasionally really looking like the actors; and generic scripts that one suspects were recycled from adaptations of similar shows (perhaps a difficulty in this case, as there was nothing before quite like Batman; still, maybe some Lone Ranger stories could be repurposed).

    Or is that too inside?

  • Nat Gertler says:

    Phantom Zone trade? I didn’t know about this! This is a GOOD THING!

    “Superman, you’re a party-poopah!”