Brandon Borzelli’s Geek Goggle Reviews
Batman 80-Page Giant #1
DC’s anthology of Batman related short stories offers some level of commonality and a large array of talent that actually blends together fairly well. This comic gives you seven stories, most of which are ten pages long, and a single page story. All told you get eight creative teams producing seventy pages (ten pages of ads) of material for $6. Each story provides the backdrop of a blizzard in Gotham and each story, except perhaps the one pager, seems to also deal with the loss of the ‘real’ Batman, Bruce Wayne. The stories come together to make an entertaining read in what is a hit or miss format and definitely a niche concept at a steep price point.
The first story (Grevioux, Grey, Asencio, Ozioba & Hill) is about Batman and Robin. This is the current incarnation with Dick and Damian running in the tights. This story provides perhaps the biggest stretch as Dick fails as Batman to completely stop a crime with a gun in which an innocent life is nearly taken. It’s a good story and does well at setting up just how Dick drops the ball, but is it convincing enough? I’m not sure, but it was an engaging with plenty of twists in it. I do think to fully believe it though you have to sort of take your opinion down a notch with what you might think of Dick. The art does well at making this story in the heart of the blizzard.
The second story (Tischman, Konat, McCarthy, Smith & Lanham) is all about Alfred. This is the one story that left me baffled. Alfred seems to give a prostitute a second chance to have a better life. It’s the manner in which he goes about this that left me wondering what this old man really did. I mean, in one scene he’s holding up this kid’s underwear. I like the idea of Alfred doing his part, to better someone’s life but wow. This story tied nicely to him missing Bruce. This story’s artwork held a tremendous amount details but was surprising lighter on the snow as if it were told after the storm.
The third story (Raicht, Henry, Smith & Lanham) is about three young adults deciding to take up the mantle of the bat (or other vigilante) and defend their orphan alley. It’s a heart wrenching story as we watch just what happens when ordinary people try to go up against the most dangerous of Batman’s rogue gallery. Perhaps the creepiest part of this story is the absence of Batman. It’s as if he’s just abandoned this area unless it takes place when their actually is no Batman at all. This went with a much darker look to the art and it worked. My only gripe was that I thought I had wandered into a Fing Fang Foom comic at end. Pick it up and read to see what I’m talking about.
The fourth story (Calloway, To, Crawford, Smith & Lanham) is about the character Millicent Mayne. She played a minor role in a couple of the Post-RIP/Battle for the Cowl issues but has not had a wide level of exposure in the Bat books recently. This story is a coming out story of sorts as she comes to grips with who she is and what she’s become. It’s a good story about a very obscure character. It not only adds some depth to this character but it ties in nicely to the blizzard and absent Bruce Wayne theme. The artwork captures the destroyed splendor and the magnificent beauty that makes up Mayne. This was a good story.
The fifth story (Madison, Rocha, Finney & Hill) is about the Catwoman. Ivory Madison wrote a six issue mini series, that is now available in a collected edition, about the Huntress, called Huntress: Year One, that was so outstanding that her story’s inclusion in this issue is the sole reason I picked it up. To say I had high hopes for this story is an understatement.
Madison doesn’t disappoint as she uses her ten pages to explore Catwoman’s feelings about the apparent death of Bruce. She cleverly uses an elderly man who has lost his wife as a way to force the Catwoman’s feelings out, at least in a reflective manner. The story also plays off the symbolic notion that Bruce and the Catwoman could be happy together simply by going away and hiding underground, as this elderly couple had done for decades. In some ways, the old couple could actually have been Bruce and Selina in some alternate reality.
The artwork is a photo realistic style and works very well with the beauty and pain that the Catwoman portrays. The theme of the story is about Snowflakes and who better to be the quasi-villain than the Snow Queen? On Madison’s blog, redroom.com, you can read about her inspiration for the story. This is a terrific story and shows more of the talent that Madison has for writing layered stories with these characters. I can only hope there is more work coming down the pipeline from Madison.
The sixth story (Spurrier, Samnee, Kalisz & Hill) is all about Poison Ivy. I liked this story because it makes perfect sense. In a blizzard with so much snow and cold what in the world would Poison Ivy do to survive? The story really relies heavily on the internal monologue and it works because Ivy is losing it as she wanders through the snow. The artwork here has a Mike Mignola feel to it and I love it for this type of dark story involving oddities like plants growing out of someone’s body. The story is on par with the Catwoman and three novice vigilantes as the best in the comic.
The seventh story (Shinick, Garres & Hill) is about Commissioner Gordon hunting down Mister Freeze. I’ve often wondered what a Gordon solo title could or would be like and this is a good taste of it. Freeze is off without his cold-suit because it’s below freezing and Gordon is tracking him down. This story works in the way Gordon works the angles and figures out what Freeze is up to. What doesn’t work is the hesitation Gordon seems to show at the conclusion. I’m not saying its wrong or anything close to it, but I question how Gordon would want one of his men to react if they were in the same situation. I’m not sure it would be the same result. This story, more than any of the others, captures the blizzard the best. This story’s art really punctuates the desperation of the situation with the weather very well. I liked this story but just wished I could have seen a little more insight into Gordon’s decision at the end.
Finally, the one page story by Niles, Buscema and Hill is a little story about Batman hunting down some bad guys. It’s short and funny. It’s not clear if it’s Wayne under the cowl though. I liked this short one a lot.
There you have it. Eight stories with a ton of creative talent behind them makes up a thick comic book. For the most part I really enjoyed all of them with three really bubbling up to the top and only two leaving me a little confused on some of the character’s choices. None of the stories will change the status quo per se, but all were entertaining and all left a good level of satisfaction at the end. None of these stories took the easy way out on their endings and I felt each one took the time to throw in something to think about once the reader finished the story. I’d say if you have a little extra room in your comic book budget that this would be something worth while to pick up.
4 out of 5 Geek Goggles