Thursday, July 24, 2014

SHADOW OF THE BAT #34 - January 1995

Prodigal: Ten
Credits:  Alan Grant (writer), Mark Bright (penciler), Scott Hanna (inker),  Todd Klein (letterer), Adrienne Roy (colorist)

Summary:  Batman falls for a trap set by the Tally Man, who then chains him up and fires a revolver loaded with one bullet at his head.  As Tally Man teases Batman about the inevitable fatal bullet, Dick Grayson reflects on his life.  Eventually, he finds the strength to break the bonds.  Batman pursues Tally Man and eventually captures him.

Review:  In response to likely no demand whatsoever, Tally Man has returned.  This time, he’s rendered by a competent artist, which settles the issue of whether or not he’s supposed to be some kind of ghost or smoke creature.  He isn’t.  He’s just wearing a dress.  I’m glad that’s settled, and it’s always nice to see Mark Bright show up in the credits.  He draws a very traditional Batman that I’ve always liked, and he's a welcome break from the kind of artist who normally shows up as fill-in pencilers in this title.  The emotional arc for the issue is Dick Grayson’s insecurities, a theme that hasn’t been explored in-depth in “Prodigal” so far.  I’m not sure if Alan Grant is on the same page as the rest of the writers, because he seems to be working from the premise that Dick views himself as a failure in every aspect of his life, which is much angst-ier than I’ve seen in the other titles.  Grant actually handles the character work rather well, even though having Dick reclaim his self-esteem as he magically finds the strength to break Tally Man’s bonds is borderline cheese.


The major problem with the issue is the mere presence of Tally Man, who isn’t a memorable or interesting antagonist at all.  Grant plays up the idea that Dick getting kidnapped is “doubly ironic” since Tally Man first attacked Jean-Paul thinking he was Bruce, and now he’s targeted Dick thinking he’s Jean-Paul, but none of that makes Tally Man himself any more tolerable as a villain.  He’s just someone the reader has to suffer through before Dick can have his emotional catharsis and end the story. 

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