Page 45 Review by Dominique
Lets start with the fairly sensible version: people are messing with the Batman, trying to get inside his head and throw him off his formidable game. On the one hand they are trying to make him explode with all that pent-up, I-saw-my-parents-murdered rage, while on the other hand they are trying to get him to see the bigger picture and join up the dots like the master detective we know him to be. And along the way these various interfering agencies bring up some good points.
For example, in a world full of normal crime, terror and violence why does the Batman spend a large chunk of his time rounding up crazies like The Penguin and The Joker, only to see them leave Arkham once they are declared sane, or released on a technicality, or sprung by some other crazy or whatever? Thats a lot of energy to expend on a revolving door. Does he not suspect that he might be having his strings pulled, and if not, why not? He is a master detective after all
And then there is the no guns thing. Batman wont use guns and he wont kill. Gadgets, cudgels, fists, feet, martial-arts beatdowns, speeding cars, all these things he is down with, but he wont shoot you and he wont kill you. Its a noble position for a masked vigilante to take and totally understandable given his origin, but slightly inconvenient when you think about it
And then theres the rage. Seeing his parents gunned down by a mugger in a totally random attack set the Batman on his path. It was random, wasnt it? Ra's al Ghul was on hand to train the Batman and under that mentorship he became arguably the most accomplished martial artist on the planet. That was nice of Ras wasnt it? Such a shame they parted ways but no hard feelings Im sure
The plot thickens, it really does.
Now the less sensible version: Riddler isnt really the Riddler and Batman sort of realizes this subconsciously but still walks into the trap. Joker isnt really the Joker; well some of the time he is but then some of the time he is Boston Brand, Deadman, hopping in and out of bodies trying to make Batman see the big picture. Man-Bat is various people at various times, Aquaman has a flying black killer Manta Ray which is pretty cool, and then we go to the Underworld where, of course, we have to ride dinosaurs and stuff. Ra's al Ghul needs Batmans help, Talia al Gul is generally crazying around, crossing, double-crossing and being fabulous, Robin and Commissioner Gordon are finding the whole thing quite disturbing and Alfred has been spotted using the Cappuccino maker, I kid you not.
Oh, and also there is a bit under Arkham that no one knew about where a mysterious fellow conducts experiments on the crazies. Remember I said earlier that Batman was arguably the most accomplished martial artist on the planet? Well this guy is the argument.
The plot thickens!
This book is mental, frenetic and absolutely full of *stuff happening everywhere*!!! But, being by Neal Adams, the art is always crisp and satisfying. I really liked the structure too: you are being told the story by Bruce Wayne and each chapter starts with him sitting across the table from you, passing you coffee and then launching into the next, insane part of the tale. As he takes you through each pertinent incident his thinking is revealed and we get to see his detective side, his keen mind as well as his awesome prowess in combat. Its a brilliant way to present such an insane story. In fact its just like you and Batman are old friends, catching up