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BATMAN #53 & #54

[ PAST PRICES
Order! Order! Order in the court! Or else I will sentence you to a very long sentence that’s populated by pronouns, adjectives, consonants, and verbs. You got that? Good. Now read the following adventure created by Tom King, Lee Weeks, Matt Wagner, and published by DC Comics in September, 2018.

TO QUOTE The Book Of Job (27:3-4): 'As long as my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils, my lips will not speak falsehood, and my tongue will not utter deceit'.

THE REVIEW:
At the end of last months episode, we all saw Bruce Wayne trying to convince his fellow jurors that Batman might have made a mistake while capturing Mister Freeze. After all, he’s only human, isn’t he? And there’s a pretty good chance he could’ve misjudged his own actions during the investigation, particularly when you take into account that Batman hasn’t been himself since he split-up from Selina Kyle, otherwise known as Catwoman

Although, to be fair, Bruce can’t say this directly to the rest of the jurors, or else he’ll give away his secret identity! So what he tries to do instead is attempt to persuade them that hero-worship is wrong, false idols shouldn’t be followed blindly, and that even the great Batman himself can sometimes make mistakes. Then once he’s done that, afterwards he can meet-up with one of his old sidekicks, namely, Dick Grayson, currently called Nightwing, and together they can talk, fight crime, reminisce about the good old days, and, you know, that sort of thing, in order to make Bruce feel better about himself. Want to know more? Then please pick up issues 53 and 54 of Batman today. In the meantime though, here, check this out…

Part One) JUDGE JUDY IS A GOD:   Do you worship at a religious altar? Or do you gain your inspiration from those people who populate pop-culture? Either way, faith, in all of its forms, can generally be a positive experience because it can guide us, shape us, and give us a modicum of understanding about how things work and how people behave.

For instance, certain individuals could be inspired to join the legal field after watching a TV show based around illegal activities, whereas others could pursue more imaginative ventures after reading a notable book or thesis. Besides, life can be like that at times, can’t it? As we can all find ourselves in very strange situations due to a chance encounter or a whim of fate! Which, in many ways, brings me quite nicely on to the final part of ‘Cold Days’!

Well, if truth be told, I’m not entirely sure if I actually enjoyed reading this story or not! While one part of me loved the artwork and understood the basic message behind it (that being to stop following false idols), in the same breath, I wasn’t completely sold by the method it used to put this point across. 

You see, when issue 53 began, we saw Bruce Wayne trying to convince his fellow jurors that Batman is an infallible character and they shouldn’t be blinded by his past triumphs. Which I must admit, makes some sort of sense, especially within the confines of this narrative. What doesn’t make sense, however, is that he then attempts to drive this point home by telling them a couple of stories about his Dad, his tragedies, his triumphs, his travels, and surprisingly enough, his recent split from Selina and his relationship with God

I mean, seriously? What has gotten into Bruce all of a sudden? Has he watched too much daytime TV and gone all Jerry Springer on us? Personally, I find it hard to believe that a man who dresses up as a flying rat and stops crime by punching crooks in the face, has suddenly become evangelical, religious even, and is sermonising about his feelings and spiritual beliefs to a group of complete strangers! Yes, I know he must be feeling guilty for what he might — I repeat, might — have done to Mister Freeze, and yes, I know what it’s like to have your guts ripped out after a parting of ways! But come on, this from Batman? No-No-No! For me, that was a bit too much, almost as if it was wedged into the plot so it could finally come to an end. 

How about you, dear reader? What did you think about this final part of ‘Cold Days’? Like me, did you think it was slightly overdramatic and rushed? Or do you applaud this brand of storytelling and enjoy seeing Bruce turn menopausal? Either way, please let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.

Part Two) TWO FOR TWO:   In my most humble opinion, the best thing about these two episodes would have to be the artwork provided by Lee Weeks and Matt Wagner. Well, as I said during last month’s review, Lee is a consummate artist and I just adore his Joe Kubert inspired art: Ranging from his taunt close-ups, his scratchy inking style, as well as his art-deco induced backdrops and foreshadowing. As for Matt, on the other hand, like Lee, he’s an amazing artist too, a truly amazing artist, and overall there’s so much stuff to say about him I don’t know where to begin! I mean, should I talk about his creator-owned projects, such as Mage and Grendel? Or should I refer to some of the books he’s previously illustrated for DC, such as The Demon, The Sandman, and of course, the Caped Crusader himself?

No. Sod that for a game of soldiers. If I decided to go off in that direction this review would go on and on forever, which I’m sure none of us would ever truly want. Besides, Matt’s art speaks for itself, as it’s bold, expressive, easy on the eye, and just ideal for issue 54 of Batman. After all, it is a self-contained story, personal even, between two men who love each other without it becoming too sexual or too perverse. Basically, one part of the plot centers on Bruce trying to ease the pain Dick suffered after the death of his parents (set in the past), while the other part focuses on Dick trying to ease the pain Bruce suffered after he split-up from Selina Kyle (set in the present). More importantly, though, it manages to over-emphasize the similarities between these two as well as what makes them completely different.

Well, let’s face it. Dick is a fairly cheerful chap, more or less, who loves people and enjoys spending time with his friends and family. Whereas Bruce is a far more stoic character, stern even, and has a tough time expressing himself or showing others affection. Not physically, mind you, only verbally, because Bruce has no problem whatsoever punching, kicking, or hugging his way to victory, while Dick prefers to bust a joke instead of someone’s jaw. Know what I mean?  

That said, however, the one thing about this episode I wasn’t too keen on were those additional alterations to continuity that Tom King made. For instance, when did Dick start becoming a fan of football or love eating cucumber sandwiches? I’ve been reading his adventures for over 20 years and I’ve never heard this mentioned before. Also, some of his ‘jokes’ felt fairly flat and didn’t seem to work. Not his ‘penny gag’ or his reference to ‘holy s&@t’! But most of his other gags, those predictable ones, which came across as fake as an overblown reality TV show!  Still, never mind, eh? On the whole, a fair portion of this story wasn’t all that bad and I did appreciate its heart if not its general narrative. 

THE MUSIC:
Now the basic idea behind issue 54 was to tell a nice, personal story, where one person tries their best to cheer someone else up. Which to me, in musical terms, can only mean one thing and one thing only: The Monty Python classic, ‘Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life’.




THE COMPARISON:
Well, from the looks of it, Bruce Wayne has already given us this month's comic book comparison when he referred to Job during issue 53. Therefore, comparison made, and may the Lord have mercy on my soul. Amen.

THE CONCLUSION:
Throughout issue 54, both Batman and Nightwing either mention or fight against quite a few of their known adversaries. So, out of the following eight candidates, which two adversaries do they not — I repeat, not — fight or talk about? Could it be...?

  1. Ten-Eyed Man.
  2. Bane.
  3. The Condiment King.
  4. Crazy Quilt.
  5. Kite Man.
  6. The Joker.
  7. Mister Freeze.
  8. Clayface. 
Nuff said. 

BATMAN #53 & #54 BATMAN #53 & #54 Reviewed by David Lee Andrews on September 25, 2018 Rating: 5

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