Friday, October 21, 2005

BATMAN #646

Once Deathstroke showed up, I really wanted to hate this book. Because Slade Wilson has turned into the DCU's Wolverine, the character who has to appear in every single title, and he gets less interesting with each appearance.

Sadly, I do not hate this book. It was a little too much fun.

While the memory of his awe-inspiring badness on Green Arrow has not been forgotten, Judd Winick has somehow ceased to be my bĂȘte noire. There are bigger targets now and enough time has passed since Ollie's sidekick Pedro Mia's storyline (and my dropping the book) that I can appreciate Winick's run on Batman for what it is. And what it is is a story that's not taking itself entirely seriously.

I have not changed my mind when it comes to Jason Todd. I still think bringing him back to life was a bad idea in the same way bringing Barry Allen back would be a bad idea. But Jason's back and Winick is actually using him well. (Yes, I said it.)

This Jason is morally ambiguous, a bane to both Batman (good guys) and Black Mask (bad guys). He's got Batman's training to understand the criminal mind, but he's also got his own experience understanding Batman's mind. And he is very happy to screw with everyone's heads. For the same reason Hunter Zolomon works as Wally West's most dangerous opponent in Flash -- namely intimate knowledge and dedication to the cause held together by a little insanity -- Jason is a magnficent threat. And it's a treat and a bonus that he's got no superpowers, no cosmic toys, and nothing but his own innate wits and a lot of practical training.

Winick's Batman is... a bit of a relief, frankly. Largely free of the flesh-rending angst that suffuses everything Batman does in relation to Infinite Crisis, this Bats seems almost giddy by comparison. He's working his streets, trying to out-maneuver Jason and the bad guys, doing his own thinking (instead of Oracle), and is focused on his cause and not mindwipes or Checkmate or whateverthehellelse is going on over in the Big Picture. He's the Dark Knight of Gotham, not the Scowling Conscience of the Ghost of the JLA. Don't know how much longer this will last, but I'll take it while it does.

So far on this run, Winick has yet to trip himself up in the usual fashion. His love of his own patter hasn't overcome the story and Black Mask is turning out much better than any Winick-written villain has a right to. I'm still waiting for the other shoe to fall -- even when Winick does well (Green Lantern), he ends up shooting himself in the foot and most of the time, he isn't doing well consistently (Outsiders) or at all (GA). But maybe Batman can be his Fables -- the one title that keeps Bill Willingham from descending into Chuck Austen-like loathing. Winick's going to be on the title for a while, so it's worth hoping.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

They already killed Alfred once, so I guess it won't be so bad when he gets HIV.

Wed Oct 26, 08:06:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Dorian said...

I've been pushing Winick's Batman on folks since the Scarecrow arc for pretty much the same reasons you cite: it's fun. It's a Batman book that isn't taking itself seriously, and lets Batman act like a, well, super-hero.

Thu Oct 27, 12:30:00 AM EDT  

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