Wednesday, January 31, 2007

R.I.P. - Legends of the Dark Knight

I feel like something should be said about the final issue of Legends of the Dark Knight hitting stores today. I celebrated this monumental occasion by forgetting to buy it, as usual.

LotDK was always hit-or-miss. When it was good, it was very good (Matt Wagner's Faces, Grant Morrison's Gothic, the recent Bruce Jones run). Usually it was just weird, but it was at least imaginative and reasonably fun to read. And if nothing else, it was extra Batman reading, which I certainly don't have a problem with. The series, which was supposed to be stories from Batman's early years but often strayed from that theme, is being replaced by the currently horrid Batman Confidential. As far as I'm concerned it's been replaced by Matt Wagner's awesome Monster Men/Mad Monk series. I hope they continue forever. That's some fun early years adventure reading.

I was going to post a bunch of my favourite LotDK moments, but I keep thinking about last month's issue (#213) and how I really wanted to post something about it as soon as I read it.

Did y'all read this thing? It's bizarre. Basically it involves Batman having to track down a criminal who is a total foaming-at-the-mouth superhero nerd/collector. I'm always amused when a comic book makes a villain out of its readers. Not that I am as nerdy as this guy. No way.

Batman has to follow this guy, who has stolen one of Batman's cape and cowl combos from a black market dealer, to Japan. This dude is into cosplay, which, according to Batman, is "Costume play. Dressup as a hobby or kink." (Did I ever want Batman to explain cosplay to me? No I did not).

Here's what I don't like: when a writer forces their own interests on an established character, no matter how ridiculous. I would even call that lazy when we're talking about fanfiction, nevermind an actual canon comicbook. It's like if I got to write a Batman comic and I had him lead the Montreal Canadiens to the Stanley Cup. Fun for me, confusing for everyone else.

So Bruce Wayne goes to Tokyo to hunt this geek down, and in the process we get to learn all about manga and cosplay subculture. Because Bruce knows all about it.


To me, the best part of the book is that Bruce has to go undercover at a cosplay party, and chooses to dress as Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner specifically, it looks like). But look at the geekiness he has to put up with (remember, Bruce is the guy in the Lantern costume):

*shudder* I know Batman doesn't get scared very often, but I would not blame him for being effing terrified.

Anyway, the whole thing is just weird. And it ends with this conversation between Alfred and Bruce which is kinda funny, but also really wrong.

Now let's look at a good issue of LotDK, just to wash the taste of manga out of our mouths.

#125 was a No Man's Land tie-in written by Greg Rucka. So we're already off to a good start.

I really like this comic a lot. The entire thing is an awkward conversation between Batman and James Gordon in Gordon's backyard. They are trying to restore their friendship after a tough year, but they have some trust issues to work out first. Maybe it's just satisfying to see these two have a conversation that lasts so long. Especially one that is so fun to read. I especially love that pages of silence between them before Batman breaks the ice with a gardening compliment.

Gordon gets in some good digs during the argument.

Awesome! You tell him, Jim! And what does Batman have to say for himself?

Awww. Who needs a hug?

Batman is so moved by his friend's anger that he decides to show him the ultimate gesture of respect and trust by removing his mask. Only Gordon isn't interested.

I love it! This whole argument was just so manly and a great representation of their relationship.

So there it is. Legends of the Dark Knight: awesome conversations between Batman and Jim Gordon, or Batman dressing up like Green Lantern at a Japanese sex party. Something for everyone!

I'd love to hear some of your favourite or least-favourite Legends issues.


Caleb said...

Let's see, you've already mentioned FACES and GOTHIC...

After those, the best was probably the Alan Grant/Kevin O'Neil story that introduced post-Crisis Bat-Mite. I can't remember the title or issue number (I think it was "The Dark Mite Returns"), but it was totally awesome.

I also dug this one one-issue story that was drawn by Mike Mignola and was written by (I think) Dan Raspler, about Batman fighting some kind of undead skeleton thingee in a cemetery.

FAITH was pretty cool too, but mainly just because there was a Batman gang in it.

And I'll never forget the BLOODLINES annual introducing Bad Samaritan, no matter how hard I try.

Kevin Church said...

That Rick Burchett sure can draw some good stuff with Rucka, who I've always found very hit-or-miss.

ZC said...

I don't know too much about what's been printed in LotDK. My Dad has the first 50 issues in our garage (used to be the first 100 before we cleaned shit out), but I've never read them. I should, since GOTHIC is in there, and that's Grant MOrrison so I should read that obviously.

But yeah, I dunno what's been printed in it since then. o.o Though I remember #100 was a big deal because it was the first once with Robin in it. OMG!

The only recent one I remember liking was I THINK an Adam Beechen one about some kid who figures out a stop near a rooftop on Batman's nightly patrol that's pretty good. It was "Girls like the Bat" or something like that. It was fun.

I also liked the last issue. It wasn't much of a send off, but for a standalone story (which is essentially when LotDK was) it was pretty good.

Jeff said...

Other than the the issues that have already been mentioned (the Rucka one and Gothic are personal favorite), I don't remember much about the book. I think I had some issues where Batman fought a werewolf, except it wasn't really a werewolf, just a man in a suit.

But now I want to get the cosplay issue.

paperghost said...

Sadly I never read an issue, but I did like the art from the first story you scanned in.

Also, the ambush bug mini is awesome. Son of Ambush Bug is even more awesome. Awesome times two, if you like.

rachelle said...

zc - that issue was a good one. It was two issues ago (the one before the cosplay one). I enjoy comics about regular people who happen to live in Gotham.

kevin - Yeah. I was really into the art in that Rucka comic. I actually don't know what else that guy has drawn.

jeff - I can't tell you not to get the cosplay issue because it's going to go down in history as one of the most ridiculous comics ever. And you definitely want to read that.

caleb - I haven't read that one that was drawn by Mignola. I'll have to look it up.

paperghost - Ambush Bug rules. I'm reading Son of Ambush Bug next.

Anonymous said...

I just read the last ish of LOTDK this evening, and I thought it was a pretty swell Batman/Deadshot faceoff. Not a lot of action, but decent psych warfare stuff with nice Phil Winslade art.

To sum up, if this book had more stories like this (and the aforementioned FACES, GOTHIC, and the Raspler/Mignola issue), and less of the inventory drawer crap, it might not have gotten cancelled.

BATMAN CONFIDENTIAL is off to a pretty piss-poor start, but I heard tonight that the next arc, by Tony Bedard and Rags Morales, is going to be a re-telling of the awesome BATMAN SPECIAL #1, where Bats met his evil opposite, the Wrath. Could be good stuff.


Jon Hex said...

I really liked the Venom storyline where he goes into a vicious cycle of super steroids because he couldn't save that girl from drowning. It was the first time where his being human was seen as a limitation.

And it's the only story to feature a detoxing Bruce wearing his bat suit AND a full beard. Gold.

Mike said...

I enjoy this blog immensely; I think you do a fun, thorough job with it.

For my money -- literally, I suppose -- one of my favorite LoTDK stories was "Venom," a five-part Batman story Denny O'Neil wrote many years ago. I think it told a great story of drug addiction, recovery and how Batman is able to triumph. Even over himself. Good stuff, that.

I stopped reading the series as soon as the scaled back the five-part story arcs, so I think I missed a lot. Rats.

Jeff said...

I didn't catch this the first time I looked at it, but now I swear there's something about cosplay Mary Marvel's posture that makes me think she doesn't want to be there, and that makes me queasy.

Caleb said...

Rick Burchett is, indeed, an awesome artist. He was unfortunately stuck doing a lot of the Batman animated/adventures books (so he was kinda forced to ape Bruce Timm).

He's currently drawing She-Hulk. He's done some Bat-work here and there; he drew some issues of the JOKER'S LAST LAUGH event.

And I just remembered BLADES--James Robinson and Tim Sale arc.

Johnathan said...

There was a great two-part LotDK in the early nineties called 'Tao' in which Batman meets up with an evil guy he trained with in China. The story was great, but what I really liked was the picture of Batman on the cover - he's got this semi-serene smile on his face but still kind of looks like he's about to kick your ass.

MC Hugh said...

There was a keen 5-issue run drawn by Seth Fisher that was really great, if only because most of the covers make Batman look a little bit like a sexual predator.

This one and this one especially.

rachelle said...

Those covers were awesome, mc hugh. I've actually never read the Snow storyline, but now I want to.

I'd also like to back dave up and say that the final issue of Legends of the Dark Knight is, indeed, awesome. Now I'm actually gonna miss the series.

MC Hugh said...

Unfortunatly, I only play an MC on TV.

But yeah, Seth Fisher was really awesome. I only wish he could have done more work.

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Some story arks for this comic were kind of bizarre. I don't know if they where done this way on purpose or if was just bad luck, but generally speaking a good read.

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