Detective Comics 23.4
Special “Villains Month” Title: Man-Bat 1
Frank Tieri, Scot Eaton
Forever Evil Crossover
Spoiler alert! You have been warned!
The final Detective Comics tie-in to Villains Month and Forever Evil, written by Frank Tieri and drawn by Scot Eaton, features Man-Bat, one of my all-time favorite villains in not only Batman’s rogues gallery, but the DC Universe entirely. I’ve always loved bats, ever since I was a little kid, so the fact that I got not one, but two giant bat creatures in this book was enough to sell me on the book. Add that with the fact that it’s got Tieri doing the script, and it’s a recipe for success.
The story takes place immediately following recent events (set up, very poorly, by writer John Layman in Detective Comics), with Man-Bat trying to find a way to stop the new She-Bat (his former wife and true villain all along). He does so by transforming and trying to manipulate and control the serum that created both monsters, thinking that because it is in fact his serum, he’ll be able to control it. This works out fine at first, giving him the upper hand and allowing him to protect a Gotham City without a Batman, but when Francine tells Kirk that he cannot control it any more than she can, he realizes that he cannot kill her. He transforms, night after night, losing a little more of his humanity to the addiction each and every time, until finally, when he is stopped by Commissioner Gordon and the G. C. P. D., he proclaims that he is “the hero,” only to look down at the lifeless bodies below him. He flies into the night, reverting completely into madness, and the final pages show him swooping onto the unsuspecting citizens of Gotham, like the true hunter Francine and him were always meant to be.
Well worth the extra dollar for a cool special cover, this issue is another gem in the Villains Month line. Tieri knows how to write villains, yes, but it’s the humanity of this issue (or rather, the seeking of humanity) that makes it a good find. I’ve always liked the “tragic villain” aspect of a majority of the Batman villains, and Man-Bat is no exception. Add that with the great art from Eaton and the ages old (but still great) “bookending” storytelling method, and you get another fantastic one-and-done story from two masters. This is what superhero comics are supposed to be like every month. Hopefully Man-Bat isn’t ruined. This creative team just saved him from becoming a gimmick or fading into obscurity.
My Rating: 5/5