Reviews of trade paperbacks of comic books (mostly Marvel), along with a few other semi-relevant comments / reviews.

18 July 2008

Showcase Presents Batman, v. 2

Collects: Detective Comics #343-58 and Batman #175-88 (1965-6)

Released: May 2007 (DC)

Format: 512 pages / black and white / $16.99 / ISBN: 9781401213626

Silver Age DC … I’m not sure why I bother. It’s so bizarre, so nonsensical, it’s as if the writers fed hallucinogens to mentally handicapped kids, then used their ramblings as springboards to write stories.

Actually, that’s not right; that makes the stories seem too interesting. The stories careen between boring and bad pseudoscience, then takes a left turn into camp with Batman #179 and Detective Comics #349, when the “go-go checks” begin. There are two extremes: crappy hoods with weak gimmicks and ludicrous sci-fi gimmicks that detract from the relatively grounded nature of Batman. None of it is particularly interesting.

Showcase Presents Batman, v. 2 cover Few of the iconic Bat villains show up Showcase Presents: Batman, v. 2. In nearly 30 issues, the Joker and Riddler show up once apiece. Poison Ivy makes her debut, with two appearances; the back cover also trumpets Blockbuster’s first appearance as well, which should give you some of the star power involved. A villain called the Outsider, who lurked in the shadows of v. 1, steps into the light and turns Robin into a coffin. Batman defeats him because the Outsider makes his machines too simple.

All the good parts of v. 1 are missing. The Outsider makes only a couple appearances before his secret identity is revealed. The Mystery Analysts of Gotham make only one appearance, which — sadly — is the high point of v. 2, outside of the Poison Ivy stories. Alfred returns from the dead in a spectacularly stupid way.

As I said, maybe it’s just that I don’t get Silver Age DC. They seem to be targeting a younger age than Marvel was going after at the same time, and it shows decades later. But the stories don’t seem to have any spark — except for the exotic temptress Poison Ivy, it’s just a dreary succession of people who Batman and Robin beat up. Without much continuity, the stories are just one damn thing after another.

I can’t recommend the book, and I doubt v. 3’s going to be much better. But it’s Batman — I might still buy it.

Rating: Batman symbol (1 of 5)

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