Friday, February 22, 2013

BATMAN #493 - Late May 1993

Red Slash
Credits:  Doug Moench (writer), Norm Breyfogle (artist), Tim Harkins (letterer), Adrienne Roy (colorist)

Summary:  Zsasz takes hostages at the Bates Home for Girls, threatening to kill a hostage every time the police intervene.  After Zsasz kills two policemen sent to stop him, he’s confronted by Officer Montoya.  A fatigued Batman breaks in just as Zsasz takes Montoya captive.  Batman defeats Zsasz as the hostages escape.  Meanwhile, Robin continues to track Falcon, and Mayor Krol pressures Commissioner Gordon to resign.

Irrelevant Continuity:  Robin describes Falcon as one of “the three jamokes that blasted the Riddler.”  Again, this refers to a story not reprinted in the Knightfall trade paperback.

Dramatic Exits:  Officer Montoya pulls a Batman on Harvey Bullock by slipping past him while he’s discussing Zsasz’s standoff.

Approved By The Comics Code Authority:  A lot of blood in this one, including the slit throat of a police officer.  Even the title of this issue is written in blood.

Total N00B:  What’s the deal with Zsasz’s eyes?  Is he supposed to be wearing ‘80s New Wave sunglasses?  Is this supposed to be some Sienkiewicz-style expressionism meant to symbolize insanity?

Review:  Okay, this is closer to what I assumed “Knightfall” would be.  And, unfortunately, it represents a lot of the post-Miller Batman material that I don’t personally enjoy.  A “realistic” serial killer that Batman somehow isn’t able to punch out in two panels, bloody murders everywhere, and ridiculous psychobabble trying to sell the idea that Batman’s no different than the villains he faces.  This was almost novel once, but I think the expiration date on this material was out even before 1993.  There has to be some line between making the stories serious enough to suit the event and just inserting Batman into Silence of the Lambs.  So far, the storyline has veered between two extremes and neither is quite right.  Also, I guess now is as a good as time as any to point out how much I dislike most of Kelley Jones’ covers.  Apparently, DC felt that he was bigger draw than Aparo, Nolan, and Breyfogle, which seems crazy now.  These comics were published in 1993, though, so it’s possible they were right.


wwk5d said...

Really? I liked the covers, and still do.

Matt said...

I totally agree with you on both the post-Miller tone of Batman, and the Kelley Jones artwork. Jones's Batman is way too exaggerated and weird-looking for me.

And my preferred tone for Batman is the 1970's O'Neil/Adams "Darknight Detective" version, which was closely mimicked by the first run of The Animated Series. That Batman was serious, but he was still capable of cracking a smile, tossing out an occasional quip, and in general he was just a well-adjusted human being, and therefore much more fun to read about.

Anonymous said...

The Moench/Jones run on Batman, which would come along shortly after the Knightfall events ended, was one of my very favourite runs on a Bat-book. Probably sitting at number 4, after Alan Grant, O'Neil/Adams, and Brubaker.

I know the Kelley Jones art-work was controversial with fans.

kerry said...

Kelley Jones is most definitely an acquired taste. It's a little hard to believe he was once a monthly Batman artist.

Zsasz's eyes/glasses always drove me crazy, too. Does anyone have an answer for this?

Anonymous said...

You're problems with Zasz basically sums up my problems with Heath Ledger's Joker lol

Teebore said...

What’s the deal with Zsasz’s eyes?

I too have often wondered this. I believe this is the only story I've ever read featuring him, so I've never even been certain if that look is consistent with this character or just something Breyfogle did.

As for the covers, I kinda like them. They're exaggerated and over the top, but that works for me as a cover. I'd probably like Jones' work less if it was internal art, but as a representational cover, I like it.

Señor Editor said...

I just asked Breyfogle on his FB about the Zsasz eyes:

Sienkiewicz-style expressionism.

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