Wednesday, July 24, 2013

BATMAN #501 - November 1993

Code Name: Mekros
Credits: Doug Moench (writer), Mike Manley (artist), Ken Bruzenak (letterer), Adrienne Roy (colorist)

Summary:  Batman saves gangster Mercante from a mob hit.  He tells Mercante that he owes him now.  Leaving the scene, Batman soon alienates Robin and Commissioner Gordon even further with his brusque attitude.  Later, Mercante hires the infamous assassin Mekros.  Mekros’ first target is rival mobster Santos Varona, who he easily kills.  Mekros then takes aim at Batman during his meeting with Mercante.  When Batman suspects Mercante has set him up, he quickly ducks out of the way of Mekros’ bullet.  Mercante is killed instead.

Irrelevant Continuity:  Mekros is a rogue government assassin that’s undergone hypnosis and mental conditioning in order to become the greatest contract killer alive.  He wears a suit of armor that looks exactly like something out of Terry Kavanagh and Alex Saviuk’s run on Web of Spider-Man.

Review:  The first issue of Batman following the fall of Bane, Doug Moench uses the opportunity to explore how Gotham’s underworld responds to the new vacuum of leadership.  And, predictably, they all want to kill each other.  This turns out to be the only story to address what happens to Gotham’s underworld following Bane’s arrest (or the only one reprinted in the second Knightfall collection), which is surprising given how much time was spent on making Bane the city’s newest, and strongest, crimelord.

And since this is 1993, any mob hitman has to at least wear a suit of cybernetic armor, if not be an outright cyborg himself.  The latest Generic Armor Guy is Mekros, who Moench obviously intends to be an ex-CIA assassin, even though he goes out of his way never to refer to the CIA by name.  Mekros’ gimmick is that he’s a self-created sleeper agent, which means he only speaks in a peculiar combination of old Christian hymns and self-help slogans.  There’s not a lot behind the concept, but the action in the issue is great.  Mike Manley, whose style during this run is a mix of Jim Aparo and Klaus Janson, knows how to draw a shootout.  He’s also one of the few artists that can manage to pull of AzBat’s ridiculous costume.  Speaking of Jean-Paul, he’s still annoying, but this issue does a good job of making his interactions with the rest of the cast enjoyable.  His casual dismissal of Robin, who’s broken into the Batcave a second time, is actually kind of funny.  This kind of humor was sorely missing from the rest of the storyline, which is probably one reason why Jean-Paul wore on the nerves so quickly.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

was Mike Manleu supposed to be the long time replacement for Aparo/Breyfogle?


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