"...A Commotion of the Earth..."
Writer: Len Wein
Artists: Guy Davis, Jeromy Cox(c)
Last issue of Nevermore, Edgar Allan Poe found himself facing his greatest fear: being buried alive. Len Wein recreates rhythmic period narration for Poe as Poe comes to the conclusion that he is doomed. Unlike Poe, Mr. Wein does not grant the frantic nightmare. He has Batman save his cohort. Poe would have been dead as a Dalek were their partnership written in the alleged Original Universe. Then Batman would start brooding and accumulate even more angst.
Though Batman stages this timely rescue, Mr. Wein still makes the scene inclusive to the era. You do not feel that Batman's presence is contrived and more a demand of the elseworlds criteria rather than through the natural evolution of storytelling. The vivid narration peppered with the style of the day helps make the coincidence perfectly acceptable.
Mr. Wein's impressive mimicry carries the believability of a story that admittedly deals with unbelievable events. His use of coincidence, which usually hampers writers, benefits the frame of reference. Poe's double interruption as he reaches home seems while unusual plausible. The interruption by two suspects and or possible victims does not seem artificial.
The importance of this feeling, of being completely immersed in a past time period cannot be overlooked. Had Mr. Wein disturbed the flow of the story then the actual outlandish murder within the context of the story would not seem so ghastly or out of the ordinary. Instead, the murder--like the others a take on a Poe short story--startles with a shocking gruesomeness.
Although about half-way through Nevermore, the puzzle still perplexes. Each chapter whittles down the suspects, but no clear picture presents itself. This is therefore a puzzle worthy of Batman, and the reader can see why "the world's greatest detective" has yet to solve the crime.
Back in the pre-Crisis but still in the Adventureverse, Batman did not merely justify his reputation. He was also "the world's best escape artist" when the escapes pertained to survival. Mr. Wein reminds readers again of how great that Batman was by ending the chapter on a cliffhanger that relies upon one Poe's most famous of tales.
Guy Davis' artwork has consistently radiated power and aestheticism in Nevermore. His attention to detail while staggering pales when compared to his circumspection of subtle behavior.
Poe in the opening attempts to claw his way free from the coffin and in the process bloodies his fingers. Mr. Davis does not splatter blood from his hands. Instead, he shows his hands cracking with tiny cuts. He reminds the reader of the pain through scenes of Poe as he talks to the Batman rubbing and dabbing his hands with a handkerchief. The scenes give the reader something tactile in which she can sympathize and conveys the trauma that Poe experienced to help create the artificial reality of the story. Len Wein and Guy Davis are a rare and unlikely match in the world of comic books.
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