Wednesday, October 16, 2013

SHADOW OF THE BAT #28 - June 1994

The Long Dark Night
Credits:  Alan Grant (writer), Bret Blevins (pencils), Bob Smith (inks), Todd Klein (letterer), Adrienne Roy (colorist)

Summary:  The Gotham police implicate Batman in the Abattoir’s death, and eventually locate the body of Graham Etchison.  A disheartened Commissioner Gordon decides to confront Batman.  When Batman responds to the Batsignal, Gordon accuses him of being a different person.  Batman defends his actions and boasts that he will continue to protect the city as he sees fit.  He leaves and quickly takes down a street gang led by a punk named Vermin.  Later, he designs a new weapon in the Batcave.

Irrelevant Continuity:  I’m not sure if Alan Grant knew the exact details of the previous chapter while writing this issue.  He doesn’t seem to know Batman was physically incapacitated while the Abattoir fell to his death, and instead writes the scene as if Batman consciously decided to leave Abattoir to his fate.

Review:  At least the covers are starting to get pretty good.

After months of buildup, Gordon finally confronts Batman and accuses him of being an imposter.  And while Alan Grant does a nice job with Gordon’s first person narration throughout the story, the actual confrontation just feels anticlimactic.  Gordon and the new Batman probably should’ve had this face-to-face much earlier in the storyline, and it would also be nice if there were real ramifications to their falling out.  Maybe that’s where the story’s heading, but as of the end of the issue, Gordon’s just kind of bummed that the Batman he knew is gone.  I think setting up an antagonistic relationship between Batman and the GCPD earlier in the storyline, something akin to what Miller did in “Year One,” would’ve helped the overall event immensely.  And spending more time on Gordon’s reaction to the new Batman, and perhaps investigating what happened to the original, could’ve also helped to break up the monotony.

Regarding Jean-Paul, he actually gets some of his best scenes in this issue.  Grant thankfully downplays the mental illness angle and simply allows Jean-Paul to defend his point of view with a fairly reasonable argument.  It’s the old “why let a villain live who’s only going to escape and kill more people” defense, and while it’s hardly original, it makes Jean-Paul more sympathetic than he’s been so far.  I’m not sure why the creators emphasized the brainwashing angle over the cold logic that popular characters like the Punisher have been using for years.  I would much rather read about a driven man, straight out of the pulps, who has a moral code but is also absolutely intolerant of murderers replacing Bruce Wayne.  Jean-Paul’s personality usually begins and ends with “crazy.”

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