BATMAN #47 & #48

If time can pass, doesn’t that mean time can also stick, split, and double down? After all, the very fabric of time can occasionally be a bit of a gamble, just like a game of blackjack, played between Tom King, Tony Daniel, Mikel Janin, as well as all of those other crazy cats who work at DC Comics. It’s June, 2018, and it’s time for another double review.

TO QUOTE Marcus Aurelius: 'Each day provides its own gifts'.

When we last saw Booster Gold he was unfortunately involved with a very peculiar situation: By accident, he mistakenly perverted the very fabric of time and space by travelling back, back, back, into the past; so he could save the lives of Bruce Wayne’s parents in order to give him a very special wedding gift.

But no. He shouldn’t have bothered. Not at all! Saying so because, as I just said, his actions indirectly altered reality, big time, which has resulted in Bruce Wayne’s parents, Jonathan and Martha, dying once again, but this time by the hands of a crazy Catwoman and a demented Batman

Please note, though, that in this new world / time / place, Bruce wasn’t the man behind the cowl. Rather, he was the rich asshole who had enough money, resources, and coincidentally, time, to lock Booster away and restore Skeets so they could both perform one more task: To travel back in time and re-save his parents — yet again — or else he’d kill them dead, stone dead. Bang! Thunk! RIP!

But would they be willing to comply with his wishes? Would they honestly consider Bruce’s demands and restore reality? Yeah, up to a point, they do, in part, which is why now, here, at the present moment in time, Bruce, that’s our Bruce, the REAL Dark Knight, not the other one, is trying his best to stop The Joker from killing a church full of people! Want to know more? Then please pick up issue 47 and 48 of Batman today. In the meantime though, here, check this out...

Part One) MAD ABOUT TIME:   In last months review, I explained how a time travel story can sometimes be treated like a fairly disposable commodity. After all, this genre of storytelling is generally given as much respect as a homeless person scavenging for food in an affluent area, all because they’re commonly shunned, pushed to one side, and thought of as fodder, filler, and a stopgap, bridging one story-arc to the next.

Why is that though? Why do writers tend to treat time travel stories like a neglected middle child? Is it because the nature of time isn’t normally respected by a large portion of society until they reach a certain age? Or is it because they commonly reflect the made-up nature of fictionalized storytelling, and this is a point an author doesn’t generally like to raise? 

Either way, whatever their motivations, time travel stories usually fall into one of three categories. They’re usually quite naff (Hot Tub Time Machine). They’re usually quite good (Terminator 1 & 2). Or they’re usually ok and possess a jovial edge (Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure). Which, funnily enough, brings me quite nicely on to issue 47 of Batman! It was a pretty good issue, more or less, because the artwork was nice and clean and it was filled with a number of emotionally charged sequences between Bruce and Michael. This included a scene where Booster recounts his own origins (That was a very revealing recap), as well as the suspenseful way Bruce kept on threatening to end his life (Wow! That was intense). I also enjoyed the fact that both of these characters seemed mad, bordering on the desperate, as you could almost feel their anxiety and lunacy with every word spoken or action made. 

Now in Michael’s case, yeah, there’s an obvious logic behind his crazed demeanor! Well, let’s face it, wouldn’t you also go stark raving mad if you had to travel back and forward through time, again, and again, and again? I know I would, especially if every time I made a decision it ended up becoming a bad one, causing me to dig myself further and further into despair. The same thing can also be said about this version of Bruce Wayne. Although, in his particular situation, his desperation stems from what he knows to be true as opposed to what he wishes to be true, almost as if he’s deluding himself into believing what is real and what is false.

Anyway, that’s what I thought about this concluding chapter of ‘The Gift’. It was an okay conclusion and brought up some very interesting ideas, but at the same time, it felt fairly disposable, particularly the abrupt way it ended, as it made the overall narrative seem forgettable, disjointed, and pretty cosmetic. 

Part Two) TOO MUCH TALK:   What would you do if you were being assaulted by a pale-faced lunatic because you didn’t invite him to your up and coming wedding? Would you: (A) Defend yourself. (B) Relentlessly punch him in the face until you knocked him out. (C) Try to get away. Or (D) Listen to what he has to say regardless of his actions. 

Go on, which option would you pick out of these four scenarios, knowing full well that this pale-faced lunatic is none other than The Joker, otherwise known as The Clown Prince of Crime, along with the fact that he has killed before and will probably kill again? Personally, I’d choose option 'C' myself, and try to get away, although I would like to think I’d be able to perform option 'B' as well. So, to my surprise, can you imagine what I thought when I found out that Batman selected option 'D' — yes, I said ‘D’ — during his fight with The Joker in issue 48? Correct, I was confused, very confused, that he would rather listen to The Joker talking stuff and nonsense regardless of his actions. But he’s Batman, for crying out loud! THE BATMAN. Not Superman. Not one of the Wonder-Twins. And not some other happy-go-lucky hero who puts feels before reals. 

I mean, seriously! For all the years I’ve been following his adventures I’ve never, ever, ever, seen Batman be so docile and mindful around The Joker. Normally he would chase him over rooftops or fight him in the streets, but in this case, no, not really. Despite putting up a bit of a Bang-Biff-Pow, to either defend himself or his victims, time and time again Batman kept on allowing his opponent to either pull out his gun or punch someone in the face, which, to me, felt totally out of character for Gotham’s favorite Guardian! Totally out of character, saying so because, well, why should he, eh? Why should he allow The Joker the chance to speak? It’s not like he had anything interesting to say! Or, come to think of it, a piece of knowledge that would either set up a new plot-point or reaffirm an old one. Heck, throughout their fight together, The Joker never even established how he knew about Batman’s wedding (which was hinted at in DC Nation) or where he’s been hiding for all this time (see Batman Metal for more details). 

That said, however, on a much brighter note, issue 48 did start off in a very operatic fashion and was suspenseful and easy to follow. I also enjoyed Mister J’s rendition of the 60s Batman theme tune, and as for the art...

Part Three) TAG-TEAM ART:   It has recently been announced that both Tony Daniel and Mikel Janin will be sharing the regular art duties on this book. The plan, touch wood, is that the two of them will take it in turns to illustrate each consecutive storyline, and, with a little luck, will tag-team on the same issue whenever quantity is a factor. Now, from my point of view, yes, this is a brilliant development, really brilliant, because both men are truly wonderful artists and I do enjoy following their work. So what now follows will be some of my reasons as to why I think their union will be a beneficial one. 

1) They’re great artists. The two of them are genuinely great artists and they have the ability to produce clean, crisp, and well thought out sequences that most people can easily understand and translate. In fact, I defy anyone out there to say otherwise, as I don’t think I’ve seen either of them compose something muddled or confusing.

2) Being a child of the 80s and the 90s, I’ve always enjoyed looking at artwork that is big, expressive, and very bold on the page. So come on, take a look at some of the images included and see for yourself how big, bold, and expressive they truly are. In Tony’s case, I like the way he adds small little nuances to each of the characters he draws (such as the way he gets Booster to timidly wipe his goggles), whereas in Mikel’s case, he manages to glamorise the majority of his work with a simple yet elegant tone that’s uniquely his own (check out his double page spread to see what I mean).

3) Another great trait these two artists' possess would have to be a nostalgic quality they manifest throughout their work. On occasion I’ve noticed that they each have the ability to mimic other artists who’ve also drawn Batman previously, ranging from the way Tony sometimes channels Neal Adam’s style of artwork, while Mikel sometimes possesses Graham Nolan’s style of art.

4) Something else that also help artists produce great work all boils down to them being genuinely nice people. I once spoke with Dave Gibbons, the artist who drew Watchmen, and he told me that to ‘get on’ in ‘this business’ it always helps to be nice to your work colleagues as well as your fans. Thankfully, both Tony and Mikel have this quality in spades, which I myself have witnessed on numerous occasions.

So in conclusion, all in all, these two issues of Batman were nicely illustrated, simple to follow, but more or less, came across like an overused pencil with hardly any flint... pointless. 

In honor of issue 47 of Batman, I’d like this month's musical match up to be the theme tune to Back to the Future, Part One, sung by Huey Lewis and the News: 'Back In Time'.

In the case of issue 48, however, how about I compare this episode to an abusive relationship? After all, some relationships can be abusive, very abusive, where one partner is mad, loud, and talkative, whereas the other is slow, compliant, and easygoing.

At the end of issue 48, The Joker attempts to do something bad to Batman while they’re both in church. So, out of the following eight options, let’s see if you can guess what he does to the Dark Knight? Could he...

  • Bless him.
  • Christen him.
  • Kiss him.
  • Shoot him.
  • Bury him.
  • Chastise him.
  • Hit him.
  • Marry him.
Nuff said. 

BATMAN #47 & #48 BATMAN #47 & #48 Reviewed by David Andrews on June 21, 2018 Rating: 5

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