I woke up one morning and had a dream... Could I own every single issue of Detective Comics, Batman and all of the other subtitles in the Gotham universe?
Insane? Stupid? Inspired?
This can only end in obsession and financial chaos.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

The Annual Issue 2: Batman Annual #11

Alan Moore, as far as I am aware, has only written a handful of Batman Stories. One of these is an almost forgotten tale that featured in Batman Annual #11, and was released in 1987.

Clayface falls in love with a mannequin he sees in a department store window. Because Clayface is a bit deranged to start with, he believes that her alluring gaze as a sign of affection and then decides to move in. While secretly living under a table during opening hours, his new relationship blossoms and sours. Of course, jealousy and murder is the only real outcome and the Batman has to come in and sort out this domestic arrangement.

To be fair, I'm not really doing the story justice. It's very dark, it has got a chilling underlying nastiness about the situation, that implies abuse. And any story involving a man involved in an intense, implied sexual relationship with a life-size doll is just, plain, wrong... This Moore tale is simply 23 pages of what a mentally sick Batman villain gets up to when he isn't trying to take over Gotham (and then the world).

What I love out of this story is that this is the Alan Moore that I enjoy the most; the humorous subversive Alan Moore. Sure, I love his serious work, but if you offer me a choice between Promethea or, say, Smax, then I'm going for Smax every time. And this story has that similar darkly comic, almost deviant quality. While funny and charming, it still retains a lot of the aforementioned menace and that's what makes it memorable. While the situation and storyline smells of farce, the captions ensure that behind the lunacy, Clayface really turns out to be a really nasty piece of work. Illustrating that this is the reason that Batman cannot, and should not, leave him alone in peace.

Further proof, that some some Annuals can actually be rather good. And for a whole in one experience they can be a thoroughly wondrous thing.