Two visions of Batman:
Batman: Dark Prince Charming Books 1-2
I’m a big Marini fan, his work on The Scorpion is utterly superb and should Eagles of Rome ever get translated I’ll buy it, so it’s great to see him get to do a Batman story. But, his work to date has been that of artist, how does he fare as writer-artist?
For me, pretty well. The story of a Batman and Joker engagement over a number of days built around the Joker’s kidnapping of a child - which isn’t who the story tends to suggest - works well. There’s some excellent action sequences and the double page splash technique is used sparingly, which gives each of them more weight. There’s also some neat little details like Gordon now vaping.
Did DC get the format right? I think so, it’s a good way of showing off the art but where they went wrong is on the price. £11.99 RRP for what is 3 issues, even 3 gloriously rendered issues, is pushing it. Their issue of it as a single volume at RRP $34.99 could well backfire - that’s a high price when other volumes of the same price offer around double the content.
Batman: Deluxe Edition Volume 2
Yeah, I think I’m now done with King’s Batman.
I liked pieces of the finale to the trilogy of stories, I Am Bane. The juxtaposition of Batman and Bane’s origins works very well. The idea that this is all distraction for Gotham Girl to be cured works. The problem comes in the fact of all the sheer punishment Batman takes and then shrugs off because, wait for it, he’s Batman and can take Bane out with a single super Bat-head-butt whenever he chooses doesn’t. The epilogue issue with Gotham Girl almost makes up for these shortcomings but not entirely.
For all that the idea of The Button story sets the scene for Batman to decide he wants a life outside of being Batman, it’s still a big leap for him to go from that to deciding he wants to marry Catwoman. Is this concept credible? Do I buy it? Not really.
This weakness is emphasised by the nature of the infamous next arc, The War of Jokes and Riddles. This is the first time I think King has written the Joker and it’s not pleasant, which is as it should be, but he goes further and renders both the Joker and Riddler as too unpleasant. Put it this way: As a Punisher story where they both get eventually killed, it works but as a Batman story? No.
In potential, the idea of a Joker versus Riddler confrontation has promise, but King runs so far with it, by extending it to the point of there being scores of dead Gotham citizens that he renders Batman impotent and his moral principles practically worthless. Nor does it fly that, in such a situation police, or even military forces, wouldn’t be able to find and execute all of them - but that’s what the story later requires the reader to buy. If a story is going to go this far, then Riddler and Joker, considered seriously, don’t get to walk away, but they do. It doesn’t even have to be Batman that kills them, have a hacked off cop snap or just sentence them to execution because, in this story, the insanity defence doesn’t fly.
For all that I Am Bane was flawed, it read reasonably well. War of Jokes and Riddles was just a nasty bastard from start to finish. Now, I can go with those sort of stories but in the world of say Scalped or some other harsh, bleak crime noir book, not as a Batman story.