Cover: Adam Hughes
“Batman of Two Worlds”
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Carmine Infantino & Joe Giella
“The Ratings War”
Writer: Len Wein
Artist: Andy Kuhn
On February 8, 2004, Julius Schwartz passed away. He was 88 years old. Schwartz is credited with launching the Silver Age of Comic Books by reviving and reinvented DC’s superheroes in the 1950’s and 1960’s. To honor him, DC is publishing 8 one-shot comics around one of Julie’s most popular ideas. Each comic takes a classic Schwartz-era cover, and gives two creative teams the chance to write a story around it. The results are inspired and amazing.
In this issue, one of the most famous Batman covers of all time, ‘Batman’ #183, inspires two stories about Batman watching himself on television.
The historical import of this particular comic is twofold. First, the lead story is drawn by Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella, the artists who drew Schwartz’s “new” Flash back in 1954. They also drew the original cover for ‘Batman’ #183. Second, with Infantino filing a lawsuit against DC, this could be his last DC Comics work ever.
The story is straightforward yet puzzling. An actor who plays Batman on TV is arrested for killing the actor who plays Robin. The real Batman works out what really happened before questioning the suspect. Robin, though disturbed by his dead doppelganger, remains calm and in control long enough to catch the killer. It’s a fine story, but the art is the reason to buy this comic. It’s simple, yet elegant, the kind you hardly see anymore.
Compare and contrast Infantino’s and Giella’s work with that of Any Kuhn in the second story. Kuhn’s work is darker, moodier, and a little more abstract. I’m saying it’s worse. Modern audiences might say it’s better. I’m saying it’s different but still good. Wein’s story about a network secretly taping Batman’s fights could easily fit into Silver Age continuity. It also fits in with the modern Batman’s attempts to remain an urban legend. As he says, the image of him as a mysterious prowler makes him an effective crime fighter. (The panel of a wide-eyed Batman saying, “People are starting to get. . . comfortable with me”, is a very funny moment.)
Simply put, this is a great comic from 5 talented men. I’d like to see this idea continued in an anthology series. An editor gives two teams a cover or story idea, and we see what they do with it.
What better way to keep Julius Schwartz’ spirit alive than by keeping his idea’s alive?
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