Joe Public: The Birth of a Hero
Credits: Alan Grant (writer), Bret Blevins (pencils), John Beatty (inks), Todd Klein (letterer), Adrienne Roy (colorist)
Summary: The Corrosive Man escapes from prison, seeking revenge on Mort Kadaver. Meanwhile, Batman advises new hero Joe Public to retire. Joe intercepts a police band announcement of Corrosive Man’s escape, and soon joins Batman in battle. Batman orders Joe Public to absorb Corrosive Man’s powers, then buries the villain in sand. Batman again advises Joe to quit before returning to the Batcave. There, he designs a new costume.
- Joe Public first appeared in DC’s “Bloodline” annuals. He’s a high school gym teacher with absorbing powers. I have no idea if he’s intended to be a comedic character, but Alan Grant seems to view him as a joke.
- Batman’s stated reason for developing a new costume is to develop an acid-proof cape, and a way to remotely access the Batcomputer. In the previous installment, Batman drew up plans for a new cape that could work offensively, following his inconclusive battle with the Abattoir.
I Love the ‘90s: Remotely accessing a computer is treated as a technological impossibility. Batman has to develop advanced technology and program it into his helmet in order to access the Batcomputer’s files while patrolling the city.
Total N00B: I had no idea who Corrosive Man and Mort Kadaver were before reading this issue. After reading it, I have a vague understanding that Mort Kadaver is somehow responsible for Corrosive Man’s condition, although I still have no idea who Mort is or what he looks like.
Review: For the second time in two months, Batman’s inspired to draw up plans for a new costume. Because Shadow of the Bat happened to be hitting an anniversary issue this month, it’s been selected as the debut for Batman’s new look. And there’s not much to it, is there? His mask is now a helmet, his gloves have red laser sights, and I suppose there’s some minor redesign of his cape. Given the weak rationale for the new look within the story, I can only guess that the new costume was conceived as a way to maintain publicity as the overall “Knightfall” event marched along.
While Alan Grant seems as apathetic towards Jean-Paul as ever, this issue does at least see the return of Bret Blevins as penciler. Blevins does a lot to sell the horror movie feel of the story, and his interpretation of the Corrosive Man looks like a genuine monster. There’s nothing anyone could do about Joe Public, however. The guy looks like he should’ve been one of Hammer’s back-up dancers on this “2 Legit 2 Quit” tour. Baseball hat, giant sunglasses, bulky leather jacket…DC was still trying to push this loser during the height of grunge, for crying out loud. How could anyone think this was a good idea? A charitable reading of Joe’s dialogue would lead you to believe Alan Grant is intentionally treating the guy as a joke, but that doesn’t make his presence any less annoying.