“You May See a Stranger”
Okay, bear with me on this one. My esteemed editor, Mr. Keith Dallas, is always telling us reviewers that we should review the comics we’re passionate about. That’s certainly a logical approach; there are few things more boring than a blah review of a blah series. But in the case of this comic, I’m just not passionate about it either way, and that’s causing me just a little bit of angst. See, I was one of those who felt the original Englehart/Rogers/Austin Batman stories definitely presented the definitive Batman, as they were hyped at the time. At least they were until 1986, when Frank Miller’s Dark Knight became the definitive Batman. In my mind (and not to go too far off on a tangent) there’s no arguing the influence of Miller’s take on Batman versus Englehart’s. Simply in terms of circulation and mind share, Englehart’s take is far less important than Miller’s. Still, it’s exciting, at least in the abstract, for one of Batman’s most esteemed creative teams to return to the book.
Within the last few years a number of creators have returned to their original series and produced fine comics. Doug Moench and Paul Gulacy’s return to Master of Kung Fu was an underrated treasure, Steve Gerber’s return to Howard the Duck was a lot of fun, and J.M. DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire’s return to the JLA has been charming. And now here are Englehart and Rogers, back on the Bat.
So why am I left feeling a little bit cold about it? This story just feels a little too old-fashioned, too re-hashed from old ideas. Kind of like reuniting with an old girlfriend thinking old fires could be rekindled, and finding out that too much time has passed. Despite anyone’s best dreams, times have changed too much and the fires never get past a low spark. Englehart writes a professional story here, and Rogers mainly draws well – there are a few scenes where Silver St. Cloud looks crazy or anorexic or both – but the old spark just ain’t there.
I guess my lack of passion is a sort of passion after all. I wanted to love the old girl, but in the end all I could muster was a pleasant enjoyment for sharing her company.