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BATMAN CONFIDENTIAL #45
Author: Robert Reineke
June 7, 2010
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OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS: "Batman vs. The Undead" continues as Batman fights alongside the vampire Dimeter to stop a horde of reanimated corpses. But the living dead are just a distraction by the evil Professor Herbert Combs, who intends to unleash black Voodoo magic upon the world. The Dark Knight may need a little help from his friends…

Part One of “Batman vs. The Undead” got off to a relatively fast start with its mix of Lovecraft, vampires, and Batman. Unfortunately, Part Two doesn’t build on that start and the ratcheting up of tension, but bides its time bringing more players to the table.

The major problem with this issue is that after Batman and the vampire Dimeter get done fighting the reanimated dead in the museum, there’s no concrete threat to drive the plot. Writer Kevin Vanhook instead decides to pair up the three main characters so far with more characters. Professor Combs ends up in the swamps of Louisiana where he meets the voodoo witch Mama Elizi. Unfortunately, Mama Elizi descends into pure cliché territory. Especially since she’s highlighted by heavily idiomatic dialogue. The fact that she apparently has the upper hand on Combs is interesting, but doesn’t give the story much propulsion as we still don’t have much of an idea of what the villains’ plot or goals are.

Elsewhere, the vampire Dimeter is apparently out to recruit the character of Janko, who I presume is a werewolf as he’s trying Larry Talbot’s “put me in jail on the night of the full moon” routine. There’s not really a twist to this scene as it plays out in a fairly predictable manner.

Meanwhile, Batman investigates and we get the first hint of the villainous plot, although it’s still very vague. Then, for some reason, it’s time for Bruce Wayne to hit the town. There’s a humorous joke here involving New Orleans beverages, but otherwise not much point. And then a coy phone call between Bruce and some additional muscle he wants to pull in. The conversation is cute, but Batman usually holds off on calling in that sort of help until he needs it, and it’s not clear he needs it at this stage.

It’s too bad that the plot meanders this issue, as Tom Mandrake is again more than up to the task. He handles action, horror, and conversation with equal aplomb. The Louisiana swamp scenes are particularly atmospheric and horrific.

Overall, it’s still a readable story, well illustrated, with distinct characters. But there’s no forward momentum at present. And a few nice bits can’t make up for the fact that the main plot barely moves forward in this issue.

GRADE: C

Robert Reineke is a Civil and Environmental Engineer residing in Wisconsin.
He’s earned a BS and MS degrees from the University of Wisconsin
and has been reading Batman comics since the 1970s.
He’s of the firm belief that there are plenty of Batman comics written
before Frank Miller that are worthy of discussion.

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