Friday, September 13, 2013

BATMAN #506 - April 1994

Malevolent Maniaxe
Credits:  Doug Moench (writer), Mike Manley (penciler), Josef Rubinstein (inker), Ken Bruzenak (letterer), Adrienne Roy (colorist)

Summary:  Graham Etchison’s father orders a hit on the Abattoir from prison, attracting Ballistic and the punk group turned street gang, the Malevolent Maniaxe.  Batman searches for the Abattoir by tracking down his former accomplices, a plan that puts him in the path of the Maniaxe.  They meet at a warehouse, where the Maniaxe pick a fight with a group of smugglers.  Shortly after Batman enters, Ballistic crashes through the wall.

Irrelevant Continuity:  
  • Ballistic is another enduring creation from DC’s “Bloodline” annuals.
  •  A few subplot scenes remind us that Mayor Kroll is still pressuring Commissioner Gordon to support Batman’s new tactics, Bruce Wayne has rescued Tim Drake’s father but now must find Shondra (none of these events ever appear in this reprint collection), and Tim Drake is continuing his career as Robin without Batman.
  • Batman must physically return to the Batcave to retrieve his files on the Abattoir, ignoring the updates to his costume that have already occurred in Shadow of the Bat #25.

I Love the ‘90s: Stolen VCRs are being smuggled through the warehouse.  The Malevolent Maniaxe are also referred to as the remains of Gotham’s answer to “Seattle grunge.”

Review:  After conveniently forgetting about the Abattoir for the entirety of Shadow of the Bat #25, Batman has returned to this critical mission.  And he’s joined by some of the lamest characters to wander into this storyline so far.  Ballistic is an ex-cop who now takes mercenary jobs to make ends meet, but feels obligated to only take out the people who deserve it.  This might sound like a respectable premise for a new character, but Ballistic looks like such a dumb collection of ‘90s clichés it’s impossible to take him seriously.  (OMG!  Prime’s gone tribal and stolen Cable’s guns!)  I don’t know if he was intentionally designed as a Rob Liefeld parody or not, but placing him in a Batman story just doesn’t work.  The other new characters congesting the story are the Malevolent Maniaxe, a dimwitted group of failed musicians turned criminals.  The joke is that they’re a punk band that looks and acts like the Three Stooges…a joke that Doug Moench doesn’t tire of, even though he runs it into the ground three pages after their debut.  Three Stooges tributes used to periodically show up in mainstream comics, although I don’t recall ever laughing at any of them.  That brand of slapstick doesn’t exactly translate into a series of static images, and honestly, what on earth is a Three Stooges parody doing in the middle of a story about a serial killer methodically murdering every member of his family?

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