Batman's “gone” in regular continuity, but he lives on in BATMAN CONFIDENTIAL
. After some of the previous stories we've seen in these pages, I wasn’t so certain that this title deserved to.
Our writers for the new storyline beginning in issue #26 are Christina Weir and Nunzio DeFilippis, a married couple who have written five episodes of the critically acclaimed HBO series "Arli$$" -- which coincidentally starred Robert Wuhl, who played Knox in BATMAN '89 -- and lots of comics, primarily X-Men stuff for Marvel. This dynamic duo decided to do something that not many -- and perhaps no -- fans were clamoring for: bringing King Tut from the old 1960s Adam West show into comics continuity for the first time.
And guess what? They make it work. Really well, in fact.
Rest assured that the only camp in the issue is more of the Crystal Lake variety; on page 3, King Tut stabs out the eyes of an unlucky museum curator trying to crunch some rather suspicious numbers. Left for dead and delirious with shock when the paramedics roll him out, he's only able to recite the mysterious riddle King Tut told him during the assault.
After some more museum drama between the two culprits behind the missing money, King Tut attacks one of them in his home with another riddle left in his violent wake. Batman and Gordon meet to discuss the situation. The Riddler's in Arkham, but as Batman reminds Gordon, when has that ever hampered him?
Weir and DeFilippis do some really great stuff with the Arkham scene, writing some particularly fun moments between Batman and Eddie Nigma. Batman wants answers. Edward wants a deal, and makes a good point: Batman's smart enough to solve the riddles, but Edward can actually anticipate them. If the covers for the next two issues are any indication, we're in store for more of the unlikely partnership between Batman and Nigma. And if it's written with as much wit and vigor as their Arkham encounter, we'll be in good hands.
Things go from bad to worse. Alfred helps Batman break a big clue, King Tut strikes again, and Batman gets a taste of this new villain's abilities the hard way.
The Riddler's got his own plans, too.
To be continued! And for the first time in a long time on this title, I welcome those words.
It's solid, it's smart, and it's a lot of fun. Also noteworthy is the artwork by living legend Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez. Batman's finger-pointing pose on the first page of the Arkham scene would have looked right at home among Brian Bolland's moody atmospherics in THE KILLING JOKE, while the action sequences move with the grace and the fluidity of Neal Adams. Adams is the best point of comparison here: this looks like a classic 1970s Batman comic, with big help from fellow legend Kevin Nowlan and handsome color work from the ever-reliable David Baron. (Compare the brightness of the King Tut scenes with the darker, earthier tones in the Batcave. Great stuff.) But in all of the close-ups, Garcia-Lopez creates a classic, heroic Batman all his own, and draws him so well that you can just see the detective gears turning behind his cowl. I love it, and I love that we're getting to see some fresh work from these genuinely revered comics veterans.
It's not "Heart of Hush," but if you're looking for a good, fun Batman comic, give this one a try. Two issues to go. Until next time! - John Bierly