There's a comic book creator whose recent work has impressed me and I've failed to mention it, but today I correct that oversight.
That creator is, improbably, Chip Zdarksy.
Now, I have said plenty of bad words about Zdarsky's work and every word was much deserved. I take none of that back. In fact, I'm going to start by adding a few more...
His recent "Gotham War" trivializes itself by driving by utilizing the old "Batman Frazzled Beyond His Limits" and "Batman versus Everyone Else" motifs that are somehow both trite and out of character for Batman. He draws semi-arbitrary lines and puts Bat-characters on either side of moral/stragetic debate in the War Against Crime. Because, you know, nothing says IMPORTANT drama than heroes, especially ones who work closely together, FIGHTING ONE ANOTHER rather than, I dunno, criminals and because someone still thinks he's writing for Marvel.
It also included silly Morrison-manqué touches (such as the Batman of Zurh-An-Arrrh), laughable plot-twists (like Vandal Savage BUYING Wayne Manor, without Bruce knowing), false deaths (courtesy of Clayface), and... the list goes on.
In some ways, the execution of this storyline simply couldn't be worse.
But I refuse to let that blind even me, hard-core Zdarksy anti-fan that I am, to the fact that:
the STORYLINE is nothing short of g-d brilliant.
The storyline, in case you have not been following it, is essentially that Catwoman siphons away all the goons that populate the gangs of all of Gotham City's kooky costumed criminals.
|The Joker! Clown Prince of Crime!
|and the cool, CRUEL, Mistah Freeze!
Et al., of course.
She does so to teach them to work ON THEIR OWN as BETTER criminals but NON-VIOLENT ones who target only "worthwhile" scores (that is, to say, rich people). And violent crime PLUMMETS in Gotham.
This is so brilliant, for a variety of reasons, even typing it makes my teeth hurt. Here's a few. This is old-style, Golden Age plotting, where Our Criminal Of The Month has Some New Scheme, Theme, Or Tactic. This is the **** that MADE most still-used Golden Age villains FAMOUS in the first place. "The House That Joker Built"; "The Penguin Takes a Flyer Into the Future"; the Beauty Shop of Elva Barr; old comics were FULL of plots where 'some new wrinkle' would be brought to bear against Gotham (or Batman). Instead of having each of these schemes performed by The Ugly Suit gang or some such throwaways, writers used already familiar and popular costumed criminals as the perpetrators. This made the stories more memorable because of the colorful criminal and made the criminal more memorable by showing, through a new gimmick, that they were more than one-trick ponies.
|What do crimes in reverse have to do with THE JOKER?
Nothing. Absolutely nothing. It's just an amusingly ironic idea that popped into his head one day. This is the secret to Batman's longtime villains' longevity: their versatility.
|The Faginesque "Crime College" from Batman #3
|As this excerpt from a 1982 story ("The Academy of Crime") shows, the phenomenon was not confined to the Golden Age.
|Look out, criminals! Here come...
Batman and Robin!
|If only the Batman mythos had some character that could serve as a constant reminder of this fact.
|Three guesses which member of the Bat-Family is most attracted by Catwoman's approach.
|After all, what harm can it really do...?
|"..to protect life, limb, AND PROPERTY as Batman and Robin".
Bruce wrote that himself; doesn't want anybody stealing his Batman stuff.
|Batman is the adult in the room.
If you just remember that, every story with him in it makes a lot more sense.
|There is only ONE reason for Batman & Catwoman to finally "get together" and it's Huntress and Geoff Johns has ALREADY plopped her back into existence (as he does, when motivated), so that reason is GONE.