Friday, 4 November 2011
When Batman had to fight... Captain America!
In my home town there is a place where I can buy some back issues. It's totally a sideline, and is blatantly an opportunity to off-load a large amount of ex-Diamond stock. Or, it's the excess of a collection that the proprietor, has acquired. It's very late nineties, and there is a lot of what I consider to be... Throne Reading.
You know what I mean, comics that occupy that personal 5 minutes behind a locked door. Comics that you don;t feel too guilty about reading in such a situation...
There's an awful lot of nineties Marvel for sale here which is fine. Occasionally, I'll come across a gem or a complete miniseries, which will convince me to continue to pop my head in and wade through the old stuff that I have flicked through a million times before. And such an occasion happened yesterday when I picked up a NM collection of the 1993 release 'DC versus Marvel'.
Now I have a (hatred is a bit strong) dis-like for the use of the Batman to be used in DC Universe. It's not that I don't think that Batman, as an icon, shouldn't be utilised as a pivotal figure in a massive promotional crossover. Nor is it that I give a scooby that the reality of a normal bloke dressed up as a giant Bat fighting alongside and against Gods, Monsters, Aliens and Time Machines being particularly far fetched. Nope, it's because I'm lazy.
I'm lazy because I couldn't give a monkeys about the JLA relationship that Batman has. I don't care about his interaction with other DC superheroes. I don't want to involve my life knowing about the history of, say, The Green Arrow. And what the history is between Batman and the Martian Manhunter. Add to that, there's usually a character whom I don't know and couldn't care less in finding more about them. I look and see a Plastic Man in these books: and I think, balls to it!
Maybe it's the writing and the interpretation. Occasionally, these team books get it really spot on (Morrison's interpretation in JLA was pretty clever). Sadly though, usually Batman stands around looking pointless (like in an issue of Alan Moore's 'Swamp Thing'). Or worst still is when Batman is more filled out and the writer handling it gets it spectacularly wrong. For example the cameo of the Batman in the earlier issues of James Robinson's 'Starman', where the Bat broods, and only exists in the storyline in order for Robinson to lecture about his ushering a new breed of superhero. In short, these books aren't ABOUT Batman, he's just in them.
Seriously, I take most books that utilise Batman as a supporting character badly and I avoid them like the plague. Which is why I don't consider these books as being necessary to complete the Quest. And I'm not the only one, according to Grant Morrison in his 'SuperGods' book, Denny O'Neill felt pretty much the same as me. Batman works best in Gotham City. Usually. Why did I buy this miniseries, you may ask? Because it was very, very cheap.
DC versus Marvel is a strange one. I have no idea why either company did it. Oh, I suppose Ca$h had a lot to do with it. Guaranteed Sales; funny books is a serious industry that works on bottom lines. Even the writers that wrote this thing, even admit that their poor plot device is incredibly ropey, and it's best that the reader not to think too hard here! That this plot device exists primarily to ensure that the big guys fight each other very quickly and efficiently.
While there is a few cool setpieces involving our Caped Crusader (especially with Bullseye) the fight with Captain America is so bad as to not be funny. An entire four issue miniseries between this fight is reduced to a hand full of pages. For those who don't know the fight takes place in the sewers.
Perfect throne reading, then?
As Stan Lee might say, 'nuff said'.