Friday, February 13, 2009

Batman #686 Review

Creative Team
Writer: Neil Gaiman
Artist: Andy Kubert
Inker: Scott Williams
Colorist: Alex Sinclair

Story - The Beginning of the End

I have to admit that Batman #686 maybe one of the weirdest comics I have had to review since I started this blog. After the first read through I thought the first part of Neil Gaiman's "Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?" to be a very straight foward and simple homage of all the various era's of Batman that include both the comic book, live action, and cartoon version of Batman.

The odd thing about this issue when I first read it is that I questioned the timing of this two part story by Gaiman. Just about a month ago we already had Morrison pay homage to all the various eras of Batman in his "Last Rites" two parter. So for us to get another tribute-type story so soon after getting one feels like Didio and Marts did not clue in on what Morrison had planned in Final Crisis since here we see Batman's body in tact and not the bag of bones we saw at the end of Final Crisis #6.

Also unlike the current made for trade paperback type stories in the current era of comics this Batman story feels Gaiman wrote this story not to be split into a two-parter but to be a single oversize issue. The whole format of this story being a story within a story within another story just makes this an odd read. Even the ending wasn't much of an ending or cliffhanger.

Now this is not to say I did not like this issue but I just feel that I will enjoy this story much more when I am able to read the second part of "Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?" Also this is a type of story that would work well if I read it 6 months to a year from now since I still have Morrison's "Last Rites" two-parter fresh in my mind.

I have to give it to Gaiman and Kubert though because this is a type of issue that you can't just read it once since this issue is pact with a lot of cool things for Batman fans that may be missed with only one read through.

One of those moments is right at the start of the issue and continues as the various villains enter the bar for Batman's funeral. I may be wrong about this but the red haired kid that keeps asking each villain if they want them to watch there cars is actually the pre-Crisis Jason Todd, though aged a bit. My knowledge of the pre-Crisis isn't great but I remember reading that when Jason Todd was first introduced he had red hair but dyed it black because the Batman writers of that time wanted Jason to be a carbon copy of Dick Grayson (read here). Also it would make sense since the kid had a deep seeded fear when he talked to the Joker and continuously saying that the Joker will kill him.

Also Gaiman gave me one those rare moments were I actually stopped for a second and went back to read the line were the bartender is telling Selina his name. I thought I read it wrond but it was Joe Chill otherwise known famously for being the one who killed Bruce's parents. It was one of those moments were I just went "Wow" and just knew I was in store for a crazy read.

Also with all the material Gaiman pact into this book it definetly gave Kubert a lot of room to flex his artistic muscle as he drew almost every era of Batman. We get the Golden Age, the Adam West version of Batman, Batman: The Animated Series, and some of the post-Crisis Year One through Three versions of Batman. For me it was cool seeing Kubert drawing the Joker the same way he was drawn as in the Batman: The Animated Series version since that is the series I grew up with and Mark Hamill's voice as the Joker is usually the voice I hear when reading the Joker in comics. And for many fans Kubert really pacts this issue with a lot more cool moments that I sure all Batman fans will enjoy both old and new.

Issue Rating
Story: 7.8/10 - This story just feels like a retread of the Last Rites story we got a month back. Still Gaiman did a good job paying homage to the various era's of Batman and can't wait to see what he does with the other villains version of Batman's death.
Art: 9/10 - Kubert did an awesome job showing off that he is adapt at drawing various versions of Batman.
Overall: 8.4/10- With all that said I got to say that I am going to actually wait to make my complete judgement about Gaiman's story since it really does feel that we need the second part to judge this story as a whole. Though I wish we didn't have to wait for a month to get the next part of the story in Detective Comics and find it weird that it is coming out a week after the first issue of Battle for the Cowl.


Matt Ampersand said...

That's a great point about the kid being Jason Todd. It also makes sense that he would be taking care of cars because of how in his origin he tried to steal the Batmobile's tires.

Kevin said...

@Matt Ampersand: Thanks. I just finished reading the issue for the fifth time, still a great read, and I just noticed that the Third Batman was in the back of the room in the funeral on the second to the last panel of the issue.