Issues 1, 2, 3, 4 + 5
Writer – Bruce Jones
Pencils – Mike Huddleston
One of the things that I’d like to do with this blog is write some comic reviews, then the people who actually read this thing will get an idea of the comics that I like. Perhaps they will actually like my reviews and buy things on my recommendations or avoid things that I don’t like. The just finished Man Bat 5 part mini-series by Bruce Jones is one set of comic books that should be avoided at all costs.
The first question that needs to be asked after reading this is, “What type of drugs is Bruce Jones smoking?” Seriously, Mr Jones either has an extremely vivid imagination, or he writes his comic books whilst taking acid. This book is not as trippy as his recent run on Nightwing, where he turned Dick Grayson into a male model and had Jason Todd briefly turned into a toad (a toad with tenticles), but it is still really craptastic.
In the first issue of the series there is a major development, one which you would think have a major impact on the future of the Man Bat character. At the end of this issue Man Bats’ family is brutally murdered, supposedly by Man Bat himself. The only problem is that DC has already disregarded this, perhaps showing the faith that they have in Mr Jones’ work. You see, in Grant Morrisson’s recent Batman story (issue 655), Man Bats’ wife Francine turns up alive and well, with no explanation being given over just how she could be alive.
Another prblem that this book had was that even though it was called Man Bat, the main character of this story seemed to be D-grade villain Hush. For those who came in late, Hush was a villain that was created by Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee who was the main villain in Batman way back in the 2003 Hush storyline. He then returned to the Gotham Nights book before that was cancelled. Many people, myself included, think that the reason why Gotham Nights was cancelled was because Hush became the main character of the book. He became so tiresome and boring and had stupid plotlines that involved two of my least favourite plot devices/characters, Clayface (there are way too many Clayfaces) and one of Poison Ivy’s plant people. Towards the end of the book many fans were actually hoping that Hush would die!
Anyway, back to Man Bat. I stuck through with this book right to the end, probably because I like the Man Bat character. The plot of this book seemed to just involve Hush trying to frame Man Bat for various murders and also trying to get back at Black Mask for some reason. The whole point of the book seemed to be to make Man Bat into a villainous beast with no control over its actions. The biggest problem with this is that other than in an Elseworld’s story from a decade ago, Man Bat has never been a true villain. He even did quite a few heroic things and I don’t think that he was ever a killer. The whole thing that made Man Bat such a popular character was that he was always struggling with his inner-beast, but ultimately he just wanted to be left alone. If he ever hurt someone it was only because he was trying to protect his family or because he was trying to avoid the real beast, those men who were trying to hunt him down.
Jones tried to change the way that Man Bat has been characterised. He tried to turn him permanently into a beats, with no hint of humanity or self control at all. Naturally enough Grant Morrisson has completely ignored this and made this Man Bat story obsolete even before it finished.
My only hope is that Bruce Jones is never again allowed to write another Batman related comic book. This book should be totally ignored. While it is not as awful as his run on Nightwing, this is still a totally horrible book. If DC ever release this as a Trade Paperback or you see cheap back issues, avoid this at all costs. If anyone wants good a Man Bat story they should track down any reprints of the orginal Frank Robbins/Neal Adams tales. (A good place to start is the excellent Batman: Illustrated by Neal Adams)