Jan 27, 2009

Batman Number 1, 1/4: The Joker

Starting out this new critique/review part of the blog, I thought I would start out with a bang. I’m taking on Batman Volume 1, Issue 1. This is a fifty-two pages of story, monster of a comic. Containing four stories, as well as a two-page recap of Batman’s origins. Featuring: the first time Batman is in his own series, the first appearance of The Joker, and has early examples of Batman killing. YES! That is right, in the early days, Batman killed. Well it turns out it’s just TOO big. I felt a three thousand word post was too much. So I’m going to break it down into four smaller post spread out over the next couple days. All other post, after this Bat-a-thon, will be self-contained, once a week.

Batman 1 Begins!!
After a year in Detective Comics, Batman was given his own title, called Batman… wonder hope they came up with THAT title. Although artist Bob Kane for years had been given sol-credit for the creation of Batman. Writer Bill Finger was also a co-created of the Dark Knight. Adding such items as gloves, a cowl, gadgets attached to a utility-belt, and dark clothes… you know… nothing IMPORTANT, or ICONIC to the character. Bob Kane got the sol-credit for the creation cause he sold the original story based ONLY on the title. After selling the comic, he hired Finger to script the first story, and subsequent stories during the first few years. Oh and he gave Kane feedback on his ONE character design.

The comic starts out with a two page retelling of Batman’s origins. Which is nice for people who may not have been following the stories in Detective Comics. We all know the story… rich kid and his parents come out of a movie. The parents are gun down. Then the child decides to spend the rest of his life fighting crime. You know… cause this is 1940, before child-psychologist and welfare would have stepped in to help the child deal with his grief and place him in a foster home.

So young Bruce Wayne spends the next fifteen years becoming a “master scientist” and “trains his body to physical perfection”. I wonder… did he start RIGHT away? I mean really… I know my parents were never gunned down in front off my eyes. But what twelve-year-old is that committed to ANYTHING… EVER! Besides, is this REALLY the building blocks of a superhero… it sounds like the back-story every other serial killer has.

Anyway. After all of the training he decides that it’s FINALLY time for him to start fighting crime. As he’s thinking about it a bat flies into the window, and TA-DA he decided to become Batman. If a bat didn’t fly in the window, how long do you think Bruce would have sat there thinking? I mean what kind of NUT sits around waiting for the solution to his problems to fly in the window. Apparently ones that watched their parents gunned down in front of them.

The Joker
Based on the main character from the movie The Man Who Laughs, the Joker has become the iconic Batman villain. He has appeared opposite almost every incarnation of Batman, most recently played by the late Heath Ledger, in The Dark Knight. In this first story, the Joker hijacks the radio waves in order to make a proclamation that at midnight he will kill Henry Claridge, and steal the "Claridge Diamond"… I wonder how it ever got THAT name.

Hearing this death threat, the police arrive at the home of Mr. Claridge to protect him. As the clock tolls at midnight, Mr. Claridge exclaims that he is safe, then drops dead with a shit-eating grin on his face.

He had been pre-poisoned with time released “Joker Venom”. And his diamond had been switched with a fake hours before, along with a joker playing card. This is a nice start to a story. We have a villain daring the police to catch him, and a clever murder. Overall a nice set up. We cut to The Joker sitting alone in a room, for four panels, giving a typical Golden Age exposition about how he did it, and how great he is. I’m glad this didn’t last any more panels, or his ego stroking may have manifested it’s self in a more literal form, while explaining to us point by point what he was doing and how it felt.

Dick Grayson asks Bruce if they should do something, to which Bruce says he would rather wait. YEAH! That’s a GREAT idea…“I’ll wait until the body count starts to really pile up, one person isn’t enough for me to get off my ass and take off my smoking jacket. It’s not like I devoted my LIFE to FIGHTING crime or anything.” They sit around and do nothing (or whatever you write in your fan-fiction) while more people die. After a few days they finally they suit up and go after The Joker. At which time Batman gets the crap kicked out of him. Look at that panel, he kicked him in the head, he KICKED HIM IN THE HEAD.

To carry out his next threat, The Joker poses as one of the cops watching the marked man. A neat idea, who would expect a cop? But if a cop sent over to protect me looked like THAT I would shit myself and wonder who slipped me acid.

When The Joker leaves the scene, Robin follows him to his hide out… cause he’s to lazy to do anything about the MURDER! At the hide out Robin… gets knocked out and captured like the damsel he is (again check your fan-fic). Batman comes in to save the day, like the hero HE is. After fighting briefly, The Joker runs out of bullets and…. throws his gun at Batman… THROWS his GUN! He threw HIS GUN AT BATMAN… that’s all I need to say.

I got to point out during the course of his fights with Joker in this story, Batman gives some of the corniest lines, that would be more at home in a James Bond movie, then in a Batman comic. And this is the only story he does this… WHY? I can’t figure out if these are the lamest lines ever, or the BEST! Given its almost 69 years old, I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt.

So Batman finally beats the Joker and sends him to jail, where he swears they have not seen the last of him. I would make a smart-ass remark about this being a cliché, but this is before it was a cliché… so I can’t dog on it for that.

Tomorrow: Professor Hugo Strange and The Monsters


William F. Schar said...
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Jesse Haller said...

Went through and corrected the errors. I'll do better proof reading... my bad.