Saturday, May 28, 2011

Comic shop comics: May 18

DC Comics Presents: Batman: Dark Knight, Dark City #1 (DC Comics) I read the title story in this collection not long after it was originally released. And I read all of Grant Morrison’s Batman comics. And yet I never realized just how directly Morrison was referencing this Peter Milligan-written short story that involves a demon that influenced Gotham City and claims to have kind of helped create Batman.

I guess I just forgot the exact details, and assumed Morrison was simply referencing Milligan’s idea of dark sentience applied to the city of Gotham (something Garth Ennis dealt in one of his story arcs for The Demon as well).

In actuality, Morrison took the name of that demon from this story, and even used scenes from this comic during his Batman run, particularly during Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne.

I guess one tends to forget details to certain comics stories over the course of 20 years or so.

Fans of what Morrison has done with the character in recent years then may have a little extra incentive to pick this up, although the title story certainly stands on its own as a more-clever-than-most Batman story which flirts rather strongly with the supernatural, but still sticks to that certain one-foot-in-reality sweet spot that editor Denny O’Neil established during his run—ther might be a demon and a ghost involved, or maybe Batman was just more paranoid than usual, and thought he saw and heard some things he might not actually have seen and heard at the climax.

The Riddler has returned after a something of an early retirment, still providing clues to make Batman jump through some hoops, but this time his crimes are more brutal, and the hoops are very particular and very peculiar. As Batman runs The Riddler’s gauntlet in order to stop him, we eventually learn he’s helping the archvillain perform an elaborate ritual that will release a demon, a demon that claims to have helped create Gotham itself and, especially, Batman.

Kieron Dwyer and Dennis Janke provide the pencil and ink art, respectively, and it’s great stuff. Very post-Burton in its portrayal of Gotham City, and of-the-time in its portrayal of Batman, and with extremely well-contructed lay-outs and realistic, representational art that gets exaggerated in design only for occasional, expressionistic effect.

To fill out the page count—“Dark Knight, Dark City” is only three issues long—there’s a random issue of Milligan’s short run on Detective Comics featuring art by Tom Mandrake. What it has in common with “Dark City” is its exceptional cleverness.

If I have any complaints about the comic, their minor ones dealing with presentation. The covers aren’t included, which is kind of too bad considering two of them are by much-more-popular-than-he-was-then Mike Mignola (they’re here and here, if you’re curious), and the logo for this collection isn’t as cool as the original logo that ran on those original covers.
Oh, another neat thing about this story?

Multiple Bruce Wayne shower scenes!And Batman-fighting-zombies, from long before fighting-zombies was even cool:

DC Universe Online Legends #8 (DC) This is by far the best looking issue of the series so far, perhaps because it was drawn—penciled and inked—by a single creator, Mike S. Miller, who has so far only done portions of previous issues.

Unofrtunately, this is the eighth issue in the series, and that’s an awful long time to ask readers to wait for a book to get decent-looking.

Tiny Titans #40 (DC) I don’t like the Kroc character who occasionally appears in this series. For one, I don’t really understand him.

I always thought he was supposed to be a version of Bat-villain Killer Croc, although I now note that his name is spelled differently. Additionally, I’m not sure if he’s supposed to be a kid or an adult, based on his scale to Batman.

See, here's Kroc, adult Alfred and elementary school student Robin all in the same panel:But here's Kroc in the same panel as Batman:So what gives? Is Kroc a Bat-villain, the grown-up who occasionally wrestles Batman, or is he a young relative of that guy? (Of course, we probably shouldn't look at Kroc's size comparison to Alfred for clues; previous issues have suggested that either Batman is gigantic, or Alfred is teensy).

Additionally, the jokes centered around Kroc usually aren’t very funny at all. Art Baltazar and Franco originally started using him as the Goofus-type character in Goofus and Gallant formula strips, demonstrating the right way to do something and the Kroc way to do something.

Here Kroc invades various familiar Tiny Titans scenes and behaves in random, absurd fashion. For the entirety of the issue.

I’m afraid I didn’t really care for this particular issue of what has gradually become my favorite DC comic book serial.


Nick Ahlhelm said...

Maybe Kroc is based on the big alligator guy that was with the Titans shortly (along with Osiris). The one that turned out to be one of the Four Horsemen in 52.

SallyP said...

Gosh, the Batman shower scenes are MUCH appreciated.

Akilles said...

I would like to know if Riddler killed in the Dark city story. Or was he just really near to kill a few guys?

I think that Batman is supposed to be gigantic. After all, Tim sale draws him gigantic too. Also, when it comes to Krocs size, I think that he`s as little as robin, but when he opens his jaws, he looks bigger. But I guess that`s obvious.

Caleb said...

Nick: Sobek. I don't know; I think they woulda just kept the name if so.

I would like to know if Riddler killed in the Dark city story. Or was he just really near to kill a few guys?

Yep. He shoots a security guard in the face at one point, and kills one of his own henchmen. He also attempts to or practically kills a few others—including a couple of babies—but Batman either saves them or fails to kill them (He lives a baby in the path of the Batmobile during a car chase).

Oh, and he manipulates Batman into killing a dog, too.