Writer: Scott Peterson
Artists: Tim Leavins(p), Terry Beatty(i), Lee Louridge(c)
The story in Batman Gotham Adventures isn't another perfect issue. The plot bears too close a resemblance to a classic Brave and Bold in which Batman teams with Swamp Thing to remove a giant weed that has strangled Gotham City, yet the team's skill in characterization and the depiction of movement as well as Batman lore far exceeds any other title allegedly focusing on the Bat.
Right from the opening, Mr. Leavins portrays Batman unusually: full costume but with his cowl down. The scene hearkens to Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams choosing to have Batman bare-chested but wearing tights and cowl duel Ras Al Ghul. Batman and Bruce Wayne are not split but entwined. It is not the costume who cares about Alfred's plight. It's the man whom Alfred helped raised, but the man is more when wearing the costume.
Batman's rage at Alfred's victimization is savage. With his hands clad only in his gauntlets, he literally tears the plant apart until it releases the last of his original family. This scene leads to an exciting pitfall and a clever Dark Knight escape.
As the proceedings settle, Batman and Alfred share a genuine moment of dry humor, and afterward in the cave, we see how Batman is the consummate detective. He doesn't immediately assume Poison Ivy is the culprit. He simply lists her as the prime suspect. The burden of proof at Arkham removes any doubt.
At this point, Scott Peterson and Tim Leavins display their usual sensitivity to all the characters of the Bat-Cast. That sensitivity has made this comic book the consistently best produced. The plant does not touch Harley; it vents its anger on the Joker--a thorn in the Harley/Ivy relationship, and Mr. Leavins beautifully captures the sadness in Harley's demeanor. She misses Ivy. The irony is that Batman who is considered the most emotionally stunted hero in the DCU here exhibits an insightful ability to read emotions. Actually, that's not irony. That's how Batman should be portrayed.
Night colors by Lee Louridge mute Batman's movement through Arkham until a fiery moment foreshadowed with Kevin Conroy's terse, gravely delivery courtesy of Albert T. DeGuzzeman arranger of words. After extricating the staff of Arkham offscreen--because you need only do the math with the added power of "He's Batman" to see the transition, The Darknight Detective leaves the city for the jungle. The natural dangers show off his speed and reflexes, and Terry Beatty's inks emphasize his flexing muscle without shedding the streamlined style of the animated series.
The meeting between Batman and Ivy is memorable, not only for Ivy's fetching new dress of leaves, but because of the characteristic dialogue, and her amorality. The duel between them is not one of brawn, but a psychological war based upon Batman's reputation and Ivy's obsession.
I always expect greatness from Batman: Gotham Adventures, and the title rarely disappoints.
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