Things get a little batty this week, with not one but two new Batman book and one guy who thinks he’s a Silver Age dinosaur detective but wishes he was Batman. On the upside he does get to battle an evil army of Frankensteins… so there’s that.
Gotham by Midnight #3
Continuing Fawkes storyline of an unseen evil trying to rip our world a new one, specifically in Gotham, this issue finds Det. Jim Corrigan (The Spectre) and his entourage of eccentric crime fighters going up against a new threat: smallpox. Well, not exactly smallpox, but a smallpox-carrying shadow demon that seems to be connected to their previous case.
As before, the issue jumps back and forth between the present and the past to show how Corrigan first met his team mates; though it’s less confusing this time thanks to a better balance of color and sepia tones by Templesmith. This time around we learn more about Lisa Drake who, unlike Sister Justine, is an actual detective (narcotics) and packs a wicked sonic scream. While both stories are pretty solid, I have to admit that Drake’s solution for defeating the shadow demon (flashlight) seems far too easy. Despite this, I can’t help but draw comparisons to the ill-fated Constantine tv series, particularly the “Rising Darkness,” and feel Fawkes’ approach has a more interesting approach and cast.
Cap’N Dinosaur (One Shot)
It’s hard not to love this comic, despite some storytelling issues. I mean, it’s jam-packed with wacky Silver Age-era superhero antics and crazy-awesome supervillains (Swami Midnite!). Unfortunately, there’s a bit too much going on. Yes, I’m sure part of this was intentional on the part of writer Kek-W (2000 AD, Rudy Rucker’s FLURB) to capture that vintage 50s pulp comic feel, but the pacing just moves too fast.
The story kicks off with an inexplicable death in which a man falling from the sky to street, but the cause of death is actually drowning. That’s when the police decide to call in Cap’n Dinosaur and his partner, Honey Moon, who follow their only clue to the Palisades Amusement Park. There, the duo discover the despicable Swami Midnight (a zombified swami with hypnotic powers) and a cadre of mail-order inspired villains who they fight one after the other including… The House of Frankenstein, a group of hired thugs that each resemble Frankenstein. Things get even more nuts when Cap’n Dinosaur uncovers an army of “trained US sea-monkeys” armed with mini nuclear deterrents.
I usually try to err on the side of obscurity when it comes to my weekly pull list, but Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s current “End Game” story arc in Batman is too good to overlook. We’re past the halfway point now (if you haven’t read the previous issues or the “Death of the Family” arc, do so now) and things are getting good. Batman hasn’t been put to the test like this since the Arkham prison break during “Knightfall” and it’s showing.
The entire populace of Gotham are now certifiable lunatics thanks to a new strain of Joker venom, Jim Gordon has an axe lodged in his chest, Crazy Quilt makes an unexpected appearance and Joker might just be immortal… wait, WHAT?! Yep, while nothing has been confirmed yet, we’re led to believe that the same chemical which makes Vandal Savage and Ra’s al Ghul both immortal runs through the Joker’s veins. Whether it’s true or not remains a little vague (Crazy Quilt is “crazy” after all), but the real kicker is who Batman turns to for help. Is is Dick Grayson, Man of Intrigue? Nope. Batgirl, Red Robin, Red Hood? Nope. It’s his arch-nemeses, the Court of Owls.