Monday, November 9, 2009

Batman: The Widening Gyre #3

Kevin Smith brings us something we haven't seen in a long time: a fun story where Bruce Wayne and company are allowed to be happy.

I've save you all the lecture but I've made the point in the past that there are very few comics which allow themselves to be fun anymore. That is to say, there are very few comics that allow themselves to be comics with all that entails, no matter how ridiculous. Give us talking gorillas! Bring me more good-natured ribbing between colleagues. Show us something with some imagination and a sense of humor!

The Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League was fun. Dan Slott's She-Hulk was fun. Grant Morrison's All-Star Superman was fun. Power Girl is fun. Pretty much anything by Gail Simone is fun. It's a bit hard for me to describe that elusive quality in words and your mileage may vary... but those are some books which I feel have that common factor. So why am I bringing this up in a review of a Kevin Smith comic when everyone knows that Smith's work is a loose collection of dick and fart jokes built around the exploitation of women?

Because Kevin Smith has done the impossible or, at the very least, the blasphemous. Blasphemous at least to the vast majority of Batman fans who like their Dark Knight extra dark with a side order of angst.

He has written a story where Tim Drake is allowed to smile and crack wise like a real teenage boy.

He has written the first story I can recall since the days of Steve Englehart when Bruce was allowed to pursue a love interest and was depicted as actually WANTING a life outside of being Batman.

And gods help us - he's actually done a story where Aquaman is presented as a likeable smartass.

On one level, I know that this totally breaks the status quo of several years. Tim Drake is supposed to be a moody, troubled young man, totally obsessed with his own quest for heroism in the face of both his parents dying and the death of his best friends. Batman is a chaste samurai with no use for the pleasures of the flesh. And I'm sure that there are any number of Peter David fanboys who will emerge from their Hobbit holes to remind me that the only true Aquaman stories are those in which he is the proud warrior king of Atlantis with a hook-hand and a beard.

Well, you know what? The status quo stinks. And I like Smith's vision of these characters a lot more than I've liked anything else done with them in recent memory.

I just hope that this isn't the build up to a Fridging for Silver St. Cloud and an uping of the angsty ante for Bruce. Because that would lower what has thus far been a very original and wonderful mini-series into Yet Another Batman story. I'm certain that Bruce will wind up alone again (naturally) at the end of this tale... but is it wrong that I like seeing one of my favorite boyhood heroes be happy, if only for a little while?


  1. "Chaste samurai"? I'd have tracking all his love interests, even post-Crisis...

  2. I know. And yet, there is a contingent of Batman fans (mostly Chuck Dixon followers) who make the case that not only does Bruce have no interest in sex at all - he's still a virgin.
    They've been few and far between since Morrison made Son of the Demon canon, thankfully. But before that, they were a pretty vocal contingent.
    Personally, even if you don't like the Morrison stuff, I totally believe that Bruce would have allowed himself SOME fun during his time traveling the world & training if only for the simple reason that he might someday need to know how to seduce a woman or maintain his self-control while being seduced as part of his mission.

  3. I was wondering if that is Silver. Kevin Smith has avoided the fridge before... and I really hate that fridge is a verb. :P But this looks amusing at least.. thought Tim makes me want to haul him to supercuts. "HOW CAN YOU SEE TO KICK ASS..."

  4. Yes, it is Silver. :)
    Smith HAS avoided the Fridge before, but he did get a LOT of backlash from female comic fans for his Spider-Man/Black Cat mini-series and the revelation that Felicia was a rape victim at some point in the past.
    While I agree that is WAY too cliched, I thought Smith did a good job of portraying Felicia through the rest of the story. And I LOVED the scene where Peter and Felician interogate a bad guy by threatening to sing showtunes outside of her jail cell all night until she squeals.
    Black Cat singing songs from "Cats". It's brilliant in its' obviousness.
    Hmmm... maybe that story isn't in continuity anymore since it outright said that Peter and Felicia had a sexual relationship and Quesada is dead-set on enforcing the party line that Peter can't ever catch a break, apart from the years he was *ahem* "living with Mary Jane".

  5. Hey ... is that Tim? I haven't seen him since Young Justice was cancelled.

  6. Yes, it's Tim. I don't think his hair was usually that long even BEFORE he became Red Robin.

  7. Hey, it's MY Aquaman! As he was before PAD messed him up.

  8. Yeah. Endearingly if a bit annoying cheerful as he shows up to see what's wrong when he feels Bruce's presence in the ocean and comes to the conclusion something must be wrong since...
    a) Bruce is rarely in the ocean.
    b) Bruce is never in the ocean out of costume.
    c) the dolphins said something about a woman screaming.