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Batman #605

Posted: Thursday, July 25, 2002
By: Michael Deeley



Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artists: Scott McDaniel (p), Andy Owens (i)

Publisher: DC

(Also, rating for Bruce Wayne: Fugitive as a whole? )

Plot:
The 18-part "Bruce Wayne: Fugitive" storyline comes to and end when Batman works out who killed Vesper Fairchild. It's Cain, the assassin who raised Batgirl and once trained a young Bruce Wayne. He was hired by Lex Luthor to destroy Wayne's character, but decided to "test" Batman instead. So, mystery solved. The end. Go home.

Comments:
After I bought this comic, I worked out that I had spent $50 on this story. That included sales tax, but not the "Bruce Wayne: Murderer?" story. I could've just waited for this comic. It explained the whole plot. It even has the complete image made of the puzzle pieces from the covers of the other issues. So there was absolutely no reason to buy the rest of the story.

Why do I do this to myself? Every year, it seems, I get sucked into another crossover. They're like blockbuster movies. You know they won't be any good, but you go anyway. Maybe you like the special effects. Maybe we have a need to turn our brains off once in a while to be entertained. I just wish it didn't cost me so much money.

Comparing this to other crossover events only made me feel worse. 'Millennium' was better. 'DC 1,000,000' was better. 'Final Night' was better. 'Our World's at War' wasn't much better, but I liked that story by Marv Wolfman that told the story of Genesis in reverse order. 'Secret Wars II' is still worse, but it's got a campy fun quality. I'm also a sucker for those "man vs god" types of stories.

But what really bugs me is Batman himself. It occurs to me that this mystery wouldn't have dragged out so long if he had just done two simple things:

1. Solved the case. In the 30 different parts of this story, Batman makes no inquiries, no searches for clues, and asks no questions. He makes no effort to learn what happened. Nada. Zip. The world's greatest detective makes no attempt to clear himself of suspicion.

2. Talked to his helpers. I'm fairly new to the current crop of Batman books, so maybe it's not my place to say this, but doesn't Bruce ever have a normal conversation with these people? The boy he practically raised and adopted as his son? The man who's raised him since he was six years old? His partners in crime fighting with who he's trusted his greatest secrets, let alone his very life? You're telling me Batman has deliberately distanced himself from these people to avoid the pain of losing them? I'm (not) sorry, but that's too extreme. Even taking his parents and Jason Todd into consideration, you'd think he'd open up to the people he lives and works with every day!

Of course, if Batman had done either of the above: searched for clues, run down suspects, talked with his confederates, worked with them, the story would have been a lot shorter. I mean a LOT shorter. Like 6 to 10 comics. 3 months. That's how short we're talking. But that would have meant sacrificing sales for a good story. And for a publisher worried how its characters are being "marketed" more than they're being written or drawn, that idea is completely foreign to them.

The "Murderer?" and "Fugitive" storylines did achieve one thing: It introduced me to the Bat-books. And, by and large, they're pretty good. Unfortunately, I will now stop reading them. Here's why: Chuck Dixon is no longer writing 'Birds of Prey', 'Robin', and 'Nightwing'. And I don't care enough about any of the characters to keep reading any of their books.

'Gotham Knights' and 'Detective Comics' are great deals. I enjoyed the back-up stories in both titles for only $2.50 per issue. But, again, I don't like Batman enough to buy either book every month.

I've joined the rest of the world in realizing Greg Rucka is a great writer. His stories in 'Detective' are actual detective stories. He's leaving the book soon, so why bother jumping on now?

Frankly, this crossover was ill-timed. It came at the end of Dixon's run on three books, and close to the end of Rucka's run. I'll bet most new Batman readers who came on during this story will probably drop the books quickly. (They may stick with 'Batman' when Jim Lee and Jeph Loeb come onboard, but they'd come anyway, crossover or no.) I really feel sorry for the writers. They were forced to either put storylines on hold, or work this P.O.S. into their scripts.

And the art is all over the quality scale. We get the sweet pencils of Rick Leonardi in 'Birds of Prey', the fine lines of Steve Lieber in 'Detective', and the mess that is Scott McDaniel and Andy Owens. I hate McDaniel's work. Always, always will. Hated since his 'Daredevil' run, don't like it now. I hate his people who look like chimps. I hate the faces he doesn't finish drawing. I hate his way of conveying action by drawing a series of images of the characters in motion, where every image has the same line weight and color giving the impression that there's 10 guys in a panel instead of one. And I hate his gratuitous use of circular panels that interrupt a story's flow. I swear, Rob Liefeld's work is easier on the eyes.

But I can't give McDaniel all the blame. Much of it must be shared by inker Andy Owens. He lays 'em down so thick, you need hip waders to get through a book. (rimshot) His inks are so thick, you gotta wash your hands every time you turn the page. (laughter) He uses so much black ink his art is turned down for bank loans. (whoops and hollers from black readers) Seriously, his lines are the thickest I've ever seen, and there's so much black in the book, I can't tell what's going on. Sloppy, sloppy work for a high profile title.

The story still has a couple of loose ends. Like how Sasha Bordeaux gets out of jail. And that cover needs to be explained. Who's the scruffy looking guy on the left? What does the number 20,000,000 mean? Why are their vials in the upper right? But for me, only one question remains:-

Anybody wanna buy some Batman comics?

Final Word:
Crap. Crap crap crap crap crap. I could've bought Crossgen TPBs instead of this offal.



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