Thursday, May 8, 2014

SHADOW OF THE BAT #32 - November 1994

Prodigal: Two
Credits:  Alan Grant (writer), Bret Blevins (art), Todd Klein (letterer), Adrienne Roy (colorist)

Summary:  The reunited Scarface and Ventriloquist target the mobster who took Scarface’s place while Ventriloquist was in Arkham, Marty Vetch.  After Scarface poisons Vetch’s heroin supply, Vetch agrees to a meeting at Scarface’s nightclub.  The two factions double-cross each other, leading Batman and Robin to stop the firefight.  Later, Scarface attacks Vetch at his penthouse.  Batman and Robin arrive and capture Ventriloquist, but Scarface is smuggled away by a goon.  Meanwhile, Two-Face is accidentally released from prison, as the guards try to deal with the overcrowding caused by Arkham Asylum’s closing.

Irrelevant Continuity:  
  • Batman and Robin are now driving a 1940s style Batmobile.  I can only guess the switch happened in a story not reprinted in these trades.
  • The scene that has Two-Face released from prison is supposed to be the crux for his motivation in the next storyline, but the continuity never fits.  In this issue, he’s released because a guard reads the name “Harvey Kent” off a sheet of paper.  Two-Face responds, turning his scarred side away from the guard, and is told that his “check kiting” charges have been dropped.  Later stories repeatedly claim that Two-Face was released due to a computer error, but this is clearly human error.  Earlier in the story, another officer complains that Gotham’s records should be computerized, making the later claims that this is a computer error even more annoying.  
  • Harvey Kent, by the way, was Two-Face’s real name in his first appearance, but DC later changed it because they didn’t want him sharing Superman’s last name.

I Love the ‘90s:  Scarface proclaims that this is the nineties…“Sentiment is out.  We gotta go straight for the jugular!”

Total N00B:  Dick and Tim continue to talk about Alfred leaving and wonder where he is now.  Shouldn’t they be looking for him?  Or did he just go on a vacation and choose not to tell them where he’s going?

Review:  Alan Grant is dragged into another crossover, although his only editorial obligation this issue seems to be setting up Two-Face’s role in the next storyline.  The majority of the issue is dedicated to Grant’s creation Scarface, and assuming you embrace the absurdity of the concept, it’s pretty entertaining.  My only problem with the story is the way Grant actually seems to be leaning towards Scarface being a supernatural menace, as opposed to the outlet for the Ventriloquist’s dark urges.  While threatening Vetch, Scarface recounts his origin as the wooden gallows used to hang criminals in the 1800s, indicating that decades of hate and evil are contained within him.  I realize that this is the origin Alan Grant always used for the character, but I was first introduced to Scarface in the ‘90s cartoon.  Since the show always left this info out, that’s probably why it feels so unnecessary to me.  Later, when one of the goons rescues Scarface after Ventriloquist is captured, he discovers that Scarface’s emergency plan is for him to study a book on throwing his voice.  

This is a cute joke, but there also seems to be an implication that Scarface really could resurface if just any ventriloquist picked him up.  It could be argued that the Ventriloquist, in his Scarface persona, genuinely believes this so that’s why he drew up the plan, but even the teasing of the idea just seems ridiculous to me.  Anyway, much like the previous chapter, it’s Batman and Robin in a fairly traditional, straightforward action story.  Ordinarily, this could come across as time-killer, but I can understand why the creators felt it necessary following the previous two years.

1 comment:

Steven said...

Much like the Dark Knight Rises, Alfred basically just quit and walked away. Maybe he spends this storyline sitting at a very specific cafe in Paris? Also the batmobile switch I remember being glossed over very quickly, but it's basically an old one they are using after Jean-Paul blew up the current one on the bridge.

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