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COMIC REVIEW: BATMAN #653
Author: John Fallavollita
Wednesday, May 31, 2006

EDITOR'S NOTE: This review contains one major SPOILER - FYI.

Well now...That was fun! BATMAN #653 dropped last Wednesday like a kick in the chest. (I’ve been kicked in the chest… It wakes you right up). So that was my “I’m trying to be cool and all writer-like” way of saying it had some impact.

A challenge all writers in comics seem to face is how to balance dialog and action. The medium of comics has changed, especially recently, in the sense that people want more “meat” from their comics. The proverbial “Batman vs. the Giant Dinosaurs from Mars!”, while fun and cool, doesn’t fly from month to month. At the same time, as I like to say, this ain’t Shakespeare. So how to balance your in depth crime story with some nutjob running around in his pajamas throwing boomerangs is the real trick, and this issue nailed it gracefully, stuck the landing, and even the Russian judge gave it high marks (So I’m a few months late for my Olympic clichés. I like to think I’m early for 2008).

So there’s no real action in this issue (Without having the book in front of me, I don’t think there’s any action at all). What you do get, however, is a lot of Harvey Dent talking to himself. Sort of. Not really. Come on, like we all haven’t spent a Saturday or two like that.

Ok so it’s Harvey talking to Two-Face in the mirror in a crappy motel room or apartment of some type. The whole conversation is Two-Face telling Harvey how good he was and how much Batman screwed him over. See, Harvey watched over Gotham for a year in Batman’s absence, and now that Batman’s back Harvey has the feels like it was all “Thanks for watching my city, now give me the keys to the Batmobile and don’t let the door hit you on the ass on your way out.” Actually it was all a pretty fascinating conversation, if a bit standard for the “crazy criminal in a comic book."

We also see the interaction which left Harvey in charge of Gotham. All in all a good “Here are the keys, don’t ding it up” moment. Batman is progressing to be less of a jerk, and “One Year Later” is becoming quite an interesting mix of old school and new and improved Batman. I for one, think that a lot of writers read The Dark Knight Returns and thought to make Batman brooding and “Dark Knight-ish," he had to be an asshole. Not true. Just don’t make him swing too far in the other direction and fight Egghead or King Tut and dance the Bat-oosey and everything will be just fine.

The Good: Panel layouts. Hands down the best thing out of this issue. The first page alone was just perfect. Also the mood and simple fact that a story with no “pajama fights” was pulled off so well. It can be done folks, we have proof.

The Bad: I’m at a loss here. No pajama fights? Maybe?

The Ugly: Harvey re-“two face”ing himself with acid and a scalpel. That’s discipline right there. How did he get the halves so neat?

Love this review? Hate it? John can be reached for comment at JOHNFAV@GMAIL.COM.

John really feels like he should write a bio for himself: He is a college drop-out with no formal training in literature or critiquing (he cites his mutilation of grammar as proof). He has written several short stories that have won no awards (nor are they published). He is currently agonizing over a graphic novel, which he hopes will break him onto the comics scene like this generation’s answer to Elvis. Now he’s pretty sure he knows why he never wrote a bio.

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