The Tally Man
Credits: Alan Grant (writer), Vince Giarrano (art), Todd Klein (letterer), Adrienne Roy (colorist)
Summary: Batman stops a robbery next to a New Age store’s warehouse. Intrigued by a poster, Batman enters a sensory deprivation tank and explores his subconscious. Meanwhile, the Tally Man kills the mobster Big Mike. Next on his list is Mike’s brother, Johnny Mahoon. Tally Man searches for Johnny at his hideout, the New Age store’s warehouse. Batman has already incapacitated Johnny and his friend by the time the Tally Man arrives. After killing Johnny, the Tally Man targets Batman.
- This arc apparently continues an ongoing storyline involving a mobster named Buto that was killed, allegedly because Big Mike sold him out to Batman. The Tally Man has been hired by Buto’s brother to kill Big Mike, Mike’s brother Johnny, and Batman.
- While exploring his subconscious, Jean-Paul sees visions of his father programming him to become an assassin during his sleep as a child. I’m assuming this is material already covered in Sword of Azrael, but most of the details of Jean-Paul’s past have been left vague in the main titles.
Review: The first coincidence in this story, that Batman would stop a robbery next door to a warehouse with sensory deprivation tanks, one with posters advertising the tanks even though it’s a warehouse and not a store, isn’t so bad. What Grant wants to do is to have Jean-Paul learn about sensory deprivation and be inspired to try it out. Fine. The second coincidence, that the New Age store’s warehouse is also a mobster’s hideout, one that just so happens to be on the same hit list as Batman...it’s a harder pill to swallow. There might be some context in the previous issues that makes this less ridiculous (apparently Batman was in this neighborhood in the first place investigating Buto’s murder), but it’s hard to get past the idea of mobsters hiding out in an active warehouse filled with New Age equipment. It’s absurd, but never played as absurdly funny this issue, so it just comes across as a lethargic plot convenience.
Regarding Jean-Paul’s journey to the center of his mind, I have no problems with Alan Grant using Jean-Paul’s mental state as an excuse to explore sensory deprivation, but Vince Giarrano’s art fails the scene spectacularly. Giarrano’s rendition of the boneless, smoke-like Tally Man is tolerable, and I like some of his Gotham cityscapes, but the bulk of his art resembles a bad Erik Larsen impression. That anatomy is atrocious, sketchy lines appear everywhere for no reason, and the human characters just look ugly. It’s amazing that prestige format books like Excalibur and Shadow of the Bat often ended up with subpar fill-in work during the ‘90s. I would think editorial would’ve been much more discerning when finding replacement artists for these titles.