‘The Weekly Bat-Signals’ with Shawn Warner, Episode 13

Greetings fellow residents of the great municipality of Gotham, this week is kind of a mixed bag here at the Weekly Bat Signal. We have comics news, some news from the animated world of the Brave and the Bold and something a little different this one is more of a human interest story but very much involves our beloved Dark Knight Detective and proof that the comic book world, that sometimes gets a bad rap for being a bunch of cold continuity quoting curmudgeons is actually full of heart and compassion. So let’s begin with the story of five year old leukemia patient Miles and his wish to be Batman for a day.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation has made little Miles dream of being Gotham’s Caped Crusader a reality, at least for a day. Miles is said to be a “sunny, positive little boy” who loves comic book super heroes and his favorite is Batman. The foundation has planned for Miles to don the cape and cowl and patrol the streets of Gotham, which will actually be an area of San Francisco transformed to mirror our fair city of Gotham for the day of November fifteenth.

The entire day has been planned to indulge Miles and his dream of being the Dark Knight beginning with the rescue of a citizen in distress on the Nob Hill cable cars from there it’s on the nab the Riddler in the act of robbing a bank vault. Then after a well-deserved lunch during which Miles/ Batman will receive a call to apprehend the Penguin who has just abducted the San Francisco Giants’ Mascot Batman will make his final stop of the day at City Hall where a grateful Mayor and police chief will present the masked hero with the key to the city. The plan is to have hundreds of volunteers on hand to cheer and give thanks to Batman for his selfless service. However there are already THOUSANDS of volunteers and participants joining in and contributing to making Miles’ wish come true.

This story truly warms my heart especially to think that a city would come together for something like this in a time when most people are reluctant to offer directions when approached by a stranger. It just goes to show that the comic book community as a whole, from the top executives at DC to the local shop owners to the readers are as caring and giving a group as you are likely to find. We here at Bag and Bored would like to wish Miles a very happy day as our Batman.

Now onto the comic book news, this was an unusually quiet week for Bat-Books unfortunately the one big release was not a great one, I am of course referring to the bewilderingly bad, Damian- Son of Batman. So many questions spun around my head when this one first appeared on my radar, first of which was, WHY? Second was Andy Kubert writing? WHY? Did anyone read his awful Joker Villains Month fiasco? That book was the worst of the month by leaps and bounds but I read this with an open mind despite the horrible memory of that Joker book and what I got was more of the same sophomoric, meandering attempt at a narrative this time with extremely dated artwork also provided by Andy Kubert. I say that as a fan of his former work on Batman but he seems to be stuck on overly emotional facial expression all of which seem to be portraying some level of agony but it’s not the art that kills this book it’s the flat emotionless writing of an irrelevant narrative. To make any of this convoluted plot make one iota of sense you would have to ignore everything Grant Morrison has ever written of Damian after introducing the character particularly the events of Batman #666.

Kubert writes Damian as though he never underwent any of the cathartic experiences as Robin, he has absolutely no depth of character, no soul. The dialogue is stilted and makes Damian come across as an unlikable jerk, I actually wanted this Damian to die, the sooner the better. Even his body language is irksome, his over emoting fist clenching gets tiresome after about the third time Kubert goes to that particularly shallow well of posture and posing. If Kubert doesn’t have a grip on Damian he also doesn’t seem to have a clear idea of who is wearing the cowl before Batman dies in this ill-conceived endeavor which makes it impossible for us to know.

Amid the countless continuity debacles there are deeper story flaws that prove to be problematic for Kubert, chief among them is the dirge-like pace at which the narrative crawls along. There are just too many unnecessary indulgences and dangling plot threads to ever tie up or to even generate any interest in seeing them resolved in the future. Then when he reaches a scene where he should spend a little time i.e. Batman’s funeral he inexplicably speeds through it as well as Gotham’s reaction to the loss of the Caped Crusader. Even the Villains response is given nothing more than a passing panel or two, in fact instead of showing a heart-felt reaction to the news from Talia, Kubert uses that time to recount Damian’s origin. This book is entirely devoid of emotion, it feels sterile and antiseptic where it should be visceral and genuine like Morrison’s work or even the work Kubert did with Neil Gaiman.

There’s no disputing Kubert’s artistic chops and that is where the scarce few highlights can be found in this book. His darkly foreboding rendering of Gotham calls to mind the best of his work with Morrison and Gaiman, his meticulously textured and detailed environments shine here in the funeral sequence but his overly anguished facial expressions all but kill any visual storytelling momentum Kubert may have been able to otherwise derive from his artwork.

This book fails on every level for me even as a diehard Bat fan and collector I will be sitting the rest of this one out, the idea that this absurd story could be included in current continuity in any form or fashion, even as an “Elseworlds-type” story is too much to ask of loyal Batman readers.

Finally this week and on a much brighter note the superb animated series The Brave and the Bold was released on blu ray this week. This series brought back a little of the campy fun of the ’66 TV series without going too far, it also brought a lot of characters to the screen that we had not seen outside their comic book incarnations. Writers like the incomparable Paul Dini lent their talents to this series keeping it almost in the same league as the original Batman animated series.

Season one will be available November 5th as a two disc, 26 episode collection in 1080p HD. This series very successfully blended the Batman of Dick Sprang with the fun of the 66 series and the savvy of Bruce Timm’s ground breaking work add to this the vastness of the entire DCU and what results is a smart exciting and hugely satisfying Batman series. Lead voice actor Diedrich Bader channels Batman voice veteran Kevin Conroy to perfection right down to his impenetrable exterior. Bader is joined by a dream team of voice talent including; John Dimaggio, Paul Ruebens, James Arnold Taylor, Will Friedle, Tom Kenny, Grey Delisle and Neil Patrick Harris turns in an excellent performance as the Music Meister, with talent like this you can’t miss. This would be a welcome addition to any Bat-Fan’s collection, however if funds are tight as they can be around this time of year, put this on your wish list or watch all the episodes on Net-Flix.

Well that’s going to bring this week’s Bat Signal to a close; I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it together. We will be here next week and every week, until then keep your eyes to the night skies and watch for that iconic symbol of The Bat in a beam of light signaling you to join us, same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.

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Follow Shawn Warner on Twitter:  @shawnwarner629

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