Monday, June 24, 2002

DWAYNE'S BATMAN REVIEWED

The Silver Bullet website posted a rave review for the first issue of my "Blink" arc. Since I couldn't figure out how to link to it, I've reproduced it here...

Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #156

Posted: Friday, June 14
By: Ray Tate


"Blink--part 1"
Writer: Dwayne McDuffie
Artists: Val Semeiks(p), Dan Green(i), James Sinclair(c)
Publisher: DC
Plot: Batman must solve the serial murder murders of young Gotham women.
The high rating may be influenced by my hatred of the current direction, straight down, in Batman's DCU characterization. The fact is though this issue of Legends of the Dark Knight reads like Batman. I mean, he's solving mysteries for pity's sake. When's the last time that happened? Do not bring up Vesper Fairchild. My Batman, the Batman who influenced me on a near molecular level would have solved that crime in two issues at the most.
The Batman incarnation presented in this Legends of the Dark Knight is sharp, sophisticated and even a figure of a criminal's terror while at the same time personable toward the innocents of Gotham City. Indeed, he actually cares what happens to the innocent and is a far cry from the misanthropic and misogynist bastard who casts his offal-scented shadow in the Batman titles of the DCU.
If you fret about reverting Batman to a human being will also revert his caseload to the silly adventures at focus in the Adam West era, Legends of the Dark Knight should dispel those fears. This issue and story should carry a mature readers label. The story is not meant to be read by children. While it seems to revamp an old Batman villain from the Neal Adams reign, the story in fact is nothing less than an homage to Dario Argento's giallo films.
The story touches upon all the elements of that particular genre of horror. The killer is a ski-masked madman. The killings are serial, sex crimes. The victims are young women. The killings can happen in the real world. The method of execution is ghoulish, and an even greater repugnant factor lies beneath the veneer of perversion. Batman's ally in the hunt for the killer is a blind grifter whose senses have somehow been enhanced, and his part in the story starts out by comparison to the crime itself quite innocently.
Artist Val Semeiks and Dan Green's artwork even bears with regard to the non-Batman elements a cinematic Dario Argento style. Batman's ally looks as if he could have stepped out of a sixties Italian giallo. His suit we would consider dated, but for that time, he'd look dapper. The killer is nothing short of being a brute. His leathers are perfectly in keeping with the motif. The women too look to be from the period.
Where this story differs from a giallo is that Batman being the world's greatest detective tracks down the killer and with his appearance strikes fear in him that looks to make his very bones quiver. In the typical giallo, the detective is not larger than life but a cookie-cutter inspector or an amateur sleuth sometimes quirky but otherwise normal. Symbols of fear they are not. Batman is terror absolute to the killer and although technically an amateur sleuth more professional in talent than the most seasoned detective on the Gotham PD.
That he actually wins in the first chapter shows exactly how much Dwayne McDuffie understands his intelligence and what makes him such a threat to the criminal underworld. The mystery Mr. McDuffie makes as multilayered as his characters. Thus, the story does not feel drawn out to a trade paperback level. Rather, Batman has stumbled onto a conspiracy that readers have no doubt he will shatter.