Sunday, May 01, 2005

BATMAN #639

Judd Winick is having entirely too much fun here. And so while I'm still enjoying what has been Winick's most readable work since Green Lantern, I have to wonder if he's about to fall into the same trap he fell into there -- falling a little too deeply in love with his own banter and sacrificing other necessities to feed the beast. Perhaps the rigors of keeping pace with the Path to Infinite Crisis will keep him from that Dorian Gray routine.

As for the issue at hand...

On the one hand, seeing this amazingly abrasive Batman is fun and appropriate. Considering the events of Identity Crisis and the fact that he obviously suspects who Red Hood is, Bruce is perfectly justified to act like a royal bastard to pretty much everyone he interacts with in this issue. (Except for Jason Blood, who deserves and receives nothing but pity for being trapped in a book written by John Byrne.) Zatanna and Ollie have betrayed him and, without Nightwing's mitigating presence, it's no surprise he snarked at Onyx.

On the other, it does feel like it's a little too much. Yes, Batman is always like this and this is why nobody likes to deal with him and why you pretty much have to be Superman to put up with him for any amount of time. But writers have generally acknowledged that spending this much uninterrupted time with someone so unpleasant isn't fun and structured stories so that we get a little break between the bouts of momserism. In the course of almost any story Batman usually gets some alone time, or starts working on the case at hand, or punches someone out, or does something that distracts him from interacting with people we're supposed to like so that we get a chance to forget he's so nasty for a panel or three. Here we get none of that -- every Batman appearance is pure BastardBats and the Onyx/Red Hood/Black Mask panels weren't the right sort of counterweight. Nightwing on his own would have been better because he would have engaged our sympathies a bit. We needed a morsel of a protagonist we could empathize with and we didn't get it. Nor did we get any explanation for why Nightwing is totally absent. He was standing right next to Batman at the end of the last issue.

Since I've not been reiterating it every month: usual complaints about Doug Mahnke's utter lack of dynamism apply.

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