Sunday, November 13, 2005

This Comic Is Good - Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #197

I will be frank - the conceit behind the story in Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #197 is not a new one. While becoming very popular in forwarded e-mails about ten years ago as "If I Was an Evil Overlord," the concept of being the one bad guy who learned from the mistakes of all the other villains is not super original. However, excecution of said conceit is NOT as common, and that is what Will Pfeifer has pulled off here (with very nice art from Chris Weston, inking his own pencils).

In this first part of a three-parter, Pfeifer introduces us to a villain who planned his crime very well - for PRE-Batman Gotham, at least. One head thumping (due to a Batarang) later, he is in jail for years. Circumstances lead him to want to seek revenge upon Batman (and I think it was pretty clever that they actually gave him a pretty good motivation, a very Bendis-y Powers thing to do, with the whole "What WOULD happen in the real world due to the actions of superheroes?), and he goes about it in a very different manner than Batman's normal villains - he wants to taunt Batman like the others, except he does not need credit from anyone but Batman, so he has a rare occurance in a Batman comic - he does not leave any clues!!

In addition, his actions also (appear, as I do not know if Pfeifer was actually TRYING to make this statement) bring to light the serious deficiency nowadays in Batman's detective skills. Recently (as my pal Sean Whitmore did a good job making fun of here), it appears as though Batman's idea of using "detective skills" is to just beat people up until they tell him what he wants to hear.

Our villain is completely silent, putting Batman into not only a rare state of being adrift on a case, but also being adrift on a case while the bad guy is TAUNTING him!

The ending of the issue is a beautiful example of this, as the villain went through a whole lot of effort just to let Batman know that he is coming for him.

Good stuff.

Weston's art is very strong, and the story is well executed. Good issue.

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Blogger Sean Whitmore said...

Good issue, but I can't be alone in thinking that the artist drew Batman's head too big for his body in almost every panel?

11/13/2005 02:25:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

Yeah, Batman's detective skills have been pretty mediocre lately.

He either:

*kicks people's asses until he finds information

*uses deus ex machina Oracle to pull the info out of thin air with computers

*or his villains leave him clues and riddles to make it easy, and have specific recurring themes to their crimes

If this new arc is as good as you say, I'll pick it up.

11/13/2005 04:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Eli said...

Although I tend to side with the disappointed bandwagon on its major failings, one thing I really liked about Identity Crisis was that it actually tried to take seriously the idea that several significant DC characters were supposed to be detectives. It made me long for a monthly sleuthing' anthology that switched between Dibny, Mid-Nite, Batman, and whoever else in the DC universe was more interested in picking up the magnifying glass than the pink plaid kryptonite every once in a while.

11/13/2005 05:14:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

I understand your point, Eli, but don't you also think that that was also one of the FAILINGS of Identity Crisis?

That it was this big mystery, but there WAS no mystery. You could not solve the puzzle logically.

In fact, we see that Batman has solved the puzzle in #6, but we are never shown HOW he did so.

Finally, would it not have been a LOT cooler had it been RALPH who solved the crime?

11/13/2005 05:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Eli said...

I agree with you on all those points. It was a stupid ending that wasn't even remotely plausible, and it suffered from that all-too-common trope of reducing Batman's deductive skills to some kind of goofy, grim-faced omniscience. "Of course Bruce knows...he's Bruce!" and so forth. And I'll never forgive Meltzer for not letting Dibny solve the mystery himself.

A lot of the setup, though, was good. I liked the fact that it looked at the crimesolving and security infrastructure the DC superheroes used. I liked the idea of Dr. Mid-Nite playing a big role in that with his CSI-lab-in-a-box brain. Like I said, it made me excited about the possibilities of that approach, not necessarily the execution of the climax in that instance.

11/13/2005 07:13:00 PM  

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