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Batman: Dark Detective #3

Posted: Saturday, June 11, 2005
By: Ray Tate



"Two Faces Have I"

Writer: Steve Englehart
Artists: Marshall Rogers(p), Terry Austin(i), Chris Chuckry(c), John Workman(letterer)
Publisher: DC

Everything that comes out of the mouths of the Batman Editorial Department at DC comics makes me want to step into the shower and scrub off the spew of slime. The latest mucous originates from the comments at Wizard's Philly-Con in which they describe Batman as an "urban commando." Cosmos. After finishing Dark Detective I really don't believe there will be any Batman comic book that I'll be reading. I had a glimmer of hope that the correct author will permanently return Batman to his former glory, but that hope has now been forever snuffed. They just don't get it.

Batman is not as stated at the convention an "urban commando." That phrase better describes the Punisher, and if you think there are no differences between Batman and the Punisher, you're an idiot. Batman was never an "urban commando." Even when he was a bona-fide vigilante and pragmatically killed criminals rather than throw them hogtied out of a speeding Batmobile to the steps of Gotham City Police Headquarters, he was never an "urban commando."

Batman is the literary descendent of the Shadow, the Spider, Doc Savage, Zorro and Sherlock Holmes. None of these heroes could possibly be described as "urban commandos," and some of them even packed heat! Damn it. How thick do you have to be to get Batman so wrong?

How does Batman in Dark Detective behave? Like a mature adult, "the world's greatest detective," a consummate crimefighter, a figure of terror to criminals and a figure of hope to the people of Gotham City. In other words. THIS IS BATMAN. It's so damn simple! Why can't anybody else in the Batman editorial department get it?

In Dark Detective we see Batman coming to the decision in early scenes that he will make a relationship between he and Silver St. Cloud work and his pledge of love to her. We cut to his hunting the Scarecrow, and his thought balloons describe the psychology of his enemy. It's brilliant! The Scarecrow isn't a psychotic. He's a different class of crazy, and Englehart even comes up with an explanation as to why the Scarecrow actually commits crimes not just to test his latest variations in fear but also for the money. Topping this though, Englehart creates one of the most original motives I've seen for an old Batman character and shows the Joker's relationship with his former Arkham inmates in a light that's completely novel; only hinted at by the Penguin in the original run.

Batman next spots a sign that immediately sets his detective skills on red alert. Here's another aspect of Batman which separates him from the "urban commando" that the Batman Editorial Department wrongly considers him to be. Batman anticipates crime. He does not just react. He uses his experience and knowledge in criminal psychology to predict when crime will occur.

When Batman interrupts this crime already in progress, the entire creative team of Dark Detective distinguishes him further from the simple-minded incarnation noted by the Batman Editorial Department. Batman is the supreme martial artist on the planet. It's not Richard Dragon. Excuse me a minute. Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! It's not the fake Batgirl. It's not Nightwing. It's not Robin. It's not Lady Shiva. It's none of these characters. It's Batman. Urban commando my ass. We see him calculating every move. The Punisher's brain would seize up just trying to match the fluid violence in which Batman engages. Kurt Busiek got it right in JLA/Avengers. The Punisher would last ten minutes if Batman let him.

Batman is as previously stated a figure of terror. You're not afraid of an "urban commando." You're afraid of his weapons. That's it. Batman is a weapon. The whole package is designed to scare the snot out of criminals. Let's say you take enough drugs to get over the idea of a giant Bat pulling you into his darkness. Well under that layer there's this incredible genius who will methodically extract whatever information he needs from you. Okay. Let's say you have an iron will and get a refill on your prescription and you can even get past that idea. There's still the layer of a guy who is willing to create these layers of mystique in order to conduct a crusade against the criminal element. What kind of guy does that? Not a normal one. You can understand a guy that puts on a pair of guns and mows down gangs. That's nothing special, but this guy dedicated his life to becoming the worst fear of the those gangs. That is special.

Lest you think that Batman is the only character who benefits from this more thoughtful representation, wait until you see how the creators of Silver St. Cloud portray her. Do you really think the new Supergirl having an elongated bare midriff and a nose that looks to be slammed by a frying pan is sexy? Michael Turner can draw her naked, and she still wouldn't be sexy. Silver St. Cloud is sexy. Sexy is about the way a robe falls on Silver's contours and displays just the right amount of soft, sumptuous flesh. The subtle smile she wears as she comprehends that she is Batman's girlfriend. The fact that she wants to be Batman's girlfriend. That's sexy. The way in which she makes the decision to tell her former boyfriend Evan shows that she's a mature, above board person, and the fact that she's in turmoil when she actually hears Evan's voice displays the depth she cares. Seeing her tend to Bruce's wounds and the level of hurt for him in her eyes but as well strength expresses exactly how much she is willing to become part of his world; this prepares the reader for the marvelous coda in the end.

Dan DiDio explained that after Infinite Cucarachas all of DC's continuity will take place a year forward. Yeah, thanks for that. That's really inventive. Do you really want to publish comic books worthy of an adult mind? Pay attention then to Dark Detective. Idiots.



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