Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Batman #113 - Part One

Over in the Batman titles right now, the books are undertaking the “Batman R.I.P.” arc helmed by walking Scottish pharmacy and Seaguy scribe Grant Morrison (I say Seaguy specifically because it’s hands-down my favorite Morrison title. In a world of batshit insane comic books that this man has penned, that is the one which won my heart. Similar accolades abound for Vimanarama or, if I’m in a nostalgic mood, The New Adventures of Hitler, but I digress).
Anyway, Morrison’s Batman R.I.P. relies heavily on – among other things – a source story in Batman #113 (1958, I believe) where Batman is mysteriously teleported to the world Zur-En-Arrh and becomes the equivalent of that planet’s Superman. It’s a nutsoid story from a berserkalogical era of Batman malarkadoodle, or less colloquially, The Silver Age.
Thing is, it’s also from the era where the Batman title was three fast-paced eight page adventures crammed back to back (separated like barroom brawlers by the occasional Casey the Cop or Cap’s Hobby Hint joke page). Which means that there are two other almost equally bizarre stories in Batman #113 which Morrison didn’t incorporate into Batman R.I.P. (or, if I may, B.R.I.P.). But he could have. Oh, how he could have.

"On other planets, I am Batter Soup Man!"

The first story is a common enough Batman boilerplate – some MENSA home-schooler with a Travelling Joke Salesman gimmick figures the odds on going full-tilt domino mask and knocking over a few banks are well in his favor. Smart thinking, frankly, in an era where – of Batman’s top five enemies - Batman was frequently outpunched by a manic anorexic, a fat midget, a burn victim and a slight-built woman and only ever outfoxed his last classic foe because the Riddler was kind enough to actually tell him how, where and when to catch him. Batman: Not exactly the A-1 Sauce of Crimefighting, I don’t care what Wikipedia says.
Anyway, Batman tackles False Face, a criminal who gets along by disguising himself. This is a gimmick which could have played out beautifully had it not been hastily revealed in the last panel of this story that False Face was actually just some criminal schmuck that no one had ever seen before. Detective work wins again.

DETECTIVING!!!

I do have to give this story some props for containing what is possibly my favorite scene in any Batman comic: Losing False Face in a chase, Batman spontaneously decides that the first person he sees clearly must be False Face in a different disguise, and promptly begins FAT-FISTING THE HOLY TAR OUT OF AN UNSUSPECTING DOORMAN. Detective work winning twice!

To Batman's credit, he does look like the doorman who killed his parents...
It’s the doorman’s pleas for mercy as the Dark Knight bat-manhandles the poor bastards facial hair and shoves his head back on the concrete that really makes the scene for me. No wonder Frank Miller has All-Star Batman running the fuck over cops, look how he treats hotel employees!
(Tune in same Bat-Time Bat-Tomorrow for Batman #113 Bat-Part Bat-Two!)

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