Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Batman: The Man Who Laughs

I was in the mood for a good old traditional Batman yarn, and you can’t get much more traditional than Batman versus the Joker. BATMAN: THE MAN WHO LAUGHS is a trade paperback reprinting the long story of the same name, plus an unrelated three-part Batman story featuring the original Green Lantern. Both have scripts by Ed Brubaker, one of the most highly-regarded writers in comics today.

“The Man Who Laughs” is an updated retelling of Batman’s first battle against the Joker, but it’s a reasonably faithful one and includes a number of respectful nods to the long careers of the characters. I like this early setting for Batman stories, when everything still seems new, Jim Gordon is still a police detective, not the commissioner, and Batman is still a lone vigilante. Brubaker’s script is excellent, and I like the art by Doug Mahnke, too.

“Made of Wood”, the story featuring the original Green Lantern, is even better. I’ve always been really fond of the Golden Age Green Lantern, whose secret identity is broadcaster Alan Scott. This story features a modern-day serial killer who evidently has ties to an old, unsolved case that involved Green Lantern several decades earlier. At one point, Batman and GL discuss the case while playing golf in their civilian identities as Bruce Wayne and Alan Scott. I love the sense of camaraderie among many of the DC superheroes and the way they know each other’s secret identities. Again, Brubaker’s script is top-notch, and the art by Patrick Zircher likewise. By the way, the title of this story, for those of you who aren’t comics fans, refers to the fact that Green Lantern’s power ring is powerless against anything made of wood, its only weakness. I always thought this was a little goofy, but charming in its way, probably more so than the modern-day GL’s weakness, which is the color yellow.

I had a great time reading this one, so good, in fact, that I may feel a Batman binge coming on . . .


David Cranmer said...

It is a good one and if I was home I'd be reaching for the bookshelf.

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

JAMES - I've just started reading Batman again. We have a monthly mag over here in the UK called Batman Legend and they're currently running Death of Batman. That's very good. I'll look out for this one.

Tommy! said...

Nice Review James. I'm gonna have to get this one on my next trip to B&N. I've seen the artwork you're talking about & it is pretty awesome. I'm glad to hear that the story is decent too.

If you're a serious Batman Fan then you outta check out the Bat-Blog.



pattinase (abbott) said...

The cover reminds me of Jim Carey. I wonder if they ever considered using him?