"Shot to the Heart"
Writers: Dan Slot; Ty Templeton
Artists: Ty Templeton; Rich Burchett(p), Terry Beatty(i), Lee Louridge; Zylenol (?)(c)
This issue of Batman Adventures is a real close call. On the good hand, Dan Slott cleverly closes the Julie Madison file, shows Deadshot to be way out of his league when contending against Batman and includes a special guest star who will with his characterization amuse readers even if unfamiliar with his history. Slott's treatment for Batman is mostly dead-on, and he shows this hero's many dimensions throughout the story.
On the unfavorable hand, the pacing is off thanks to an opening scene. Since Bullock later recaps how he came by the "incriminating" photos, the opener becomes redundant. Given that the story is told from Batman's point of view, the scene's presence in the story makes even less sense: likewise for what follows. Black Mask's name is later mentioned. We don't need to see him order the photographer's execution.
Deadshot we already know. Even if readers did not see the episode of Justice League that introduces the assassin, they would quickly catch the clues within this issue to fully understand his role.
The story should have begun with the guest felon running across the rooftops of Gotham City to escape Batman. This scene is a more enticing hook than the slower and uninventively staged photographing panels.
Another scene's excision in the book would make for a tighter production. The trip down memory love lane brings the story to a complete halt. Batman's dialogue sounds way out of character during his and Alfred's recollections. The setup leading to this unnecessary sojourn however features some great Alfred moments. The flashback here--really too many in such a short tale--excels because it shows Bruce's bond with his mother.
Some writers imagine Batman without a childhood, but in truth, it is the destruction of Batman's childhood that forces him to become Batman to save his sanity, and it his childish dreams that drive him to prevent what happened to his parents cursing the lives of some other innocent. Batman is a nightmare borne from the love a little boy has for his parents. When Mr. Slott and Mr. Templeton show a young Bruce with his mother they emphasize what this character has lost and reveal the core of Batman that so many others completely miss.
The scene of the past foreshadows this character's need for love. The lost succor Batman suffers from Julie's betrayal makes his actions at the end perfectly in character even if no real crime has been committed. You can argue perhaps fraud, but it would be difficult to prove in a court of law. However, the animated style Julie Madison has been portrayed so shrewishly that you're unlikely to care about her and wonder what Batman ever saw in the woman. Talk about being blind as a bat.
An ironically less damaging flaw, in terms of story, occurs when Deadshot uses explosive rounds to finish off the Batmobile. I would have thought that Batman would have anticipated such an attack especially now that he's a member of the Justice League and facing foes that use far more than hollow points to conduct their criminal activity.
An overall curiosity comes in the Montoya's and Bullock's switch of roles in their opinion of the Batman. Bullock headed two squads to take down the Bat: one in "On Leathery Wings" and the other in Mask of Phantasm. He has never liked Batman. Montoya on the other hand always seemed grateful for the Caped Crusader's timely interventions especially when one of those deeds saved her life in "POV." Although earning a Captaincy, I am having a problem with Montoya blindly following orders by actively pursing Batman. Either that, or she's one helluva an actress.
Ty Templeton provides his usual excellent adaptation of the dark Deco look of the series combined with the Justice League's sleeker Dark Knight. The scenes showing a mean, lean Batmobile particularly stand out as does the flip-side Casablanca farewell between Batman and Julie Madison.
In the second story "Liar, Liar"--a fun, fitting title--Ty Templeton explains how Bullock loses his badge. The story does not rely upon cliche and finds imaginative means to drop Bullock out of the ranks. Rich Burchett shows his rare comedic side as he graphs Bullock's downfall in the elements.
Batman Adventures like its predecessor titles usually presents a perfect issue month after moth. While this story bears a few shortcomings, it still features a Batman who acts consistently in character, engrosses with a coherent plot and captivates with beautiful artwork that facilitates frenetic action.
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!