“Don’t Blink” (part 3 of 4)
Writer: Dwayne McDuffie
Artists: Val Semeiks(p), Dan Green(i)
Publisher: DC Comics
Batman pursues a kidnapper through the streets and sewers of Gotham City. He’s aided by the unique abilities of part-time criminal Lee Hyland who can see through the eyes of the victim, a small girl who just witnessed the murder of her father.
Writer Dwayne McDuffie has a great premise going. Batman, in an interesting moral dilemma, uses Lee Hyland to bust up a child abduction ring; Hyland is a blind man that can see through the eyes of anyone he touches. Since Batman is known for his gadgets Lee Hyland must be the ultimate surveillance tool – though I am sure it must chafe him at some level, since it means relying on someone other than himself to get the job done. I’d love to get a thought or two about why Batman went this route or whether he regrets the idea. Unfortunately, McDuffie sticks to surface action and avoids interior conflicts.
Hyland makes surreptitious contact with a wiseguy named Carson Clarke, Batman’s sole suspect. Hyland observes Clarke eating a scone, hugging his daughter and meeting with another thug named Farell. He describes events moment-by-moment while Batman tracks Clarke to his home. When Clarke is murdered his sight is transferred to his daughter, who Farell then kidnaps. The chase is on.
McDuffie’s script contains several whoppers. Batman pursues Farrell into Gotham’s sewers, which are so nasty that green smoke rises out of the goo. Farell fires a gun, which causes the methane gas to explode, ripping up several city blocks. Fortunately, Batman dove into the ankle deep sewer muck and survived. He comments “surface of the water deflected most of the force of the explosion”. Wha? Later, while still chasing Farell, Batman complains in a thought bubble “if I had one wish, it would be to get rid of the seemingly endless supply of abandoned warehouses in this town”. Wait, isn’t your daytime identity that of billionaire Bruce Wayne? Just buy them, level the area and drop a sports stadium in the middle.
This might be Penciller Val Semeiks best effort yet. He captures the pace and intensity of Batman’s pursuit with energy and tension. His characters, goofy as they are, seem very three dimensional - everyone respects gravity, all are rooted to the ground and each believably reacts to their environments. I still have issues with the caricature depictions of certain characters, but there is an “old school” or “throwback” feeling to it all. Otherwise, the visuals are just plain fun and read clearly.
Batman relies entirely upon the displaced sight of Lee Hyland instead of exercising his detective skills or employing any deductive reasoning. Batman is all action here, everyone feeds him info and he runs down the leads. Hyland rides shotgun in the Batmobile for the entire issue, but his presence is the key to the whole story, too bad he’s so passive. Ultimately, this chapter is just padding to set-up the final chapter. Yet despite that and some absurd plot points, this is great Bat fun.
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