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COMIC REVIEW: BATMAN #660

Author: Bill Ramey
Thursday, December 14, 2006

FROM DC COMICS: "Three horrific murders rock Gotham with only one gruesome connection: parts of the victim's faces have been carved away. Meanwhile, a brutal Russian gangster called Perun threatens Amina Franklin, a doctor working at Leslie Thompkins clinic, which brings in not only the Batman but his bizarre new foe: Grotesk!

And as the mystery of Grotesk deepens, a vicious new player enters the game — a Japanese yakuza named Johnny Kareoke! Batman confronts Kareoke and his murderous Geisha Grrls while the monstrous Grotesk strikes once again!"

“Grotesk” continues in BATMAN #660.

As I told y’all last time, this storyline reminded me of a tale from DETECTIVE more than one from BATMAN. You know, the latter was always considered to be the “superhero” book, while the former featured the detective/mystery story. And hey, I’m perfectly OK with this change of pace because DETECTIVE is, and has always been, my favorite Batman comic book.

At any rate, The Batman is on the tale of a new and ruthless vigilante known as Grotesk who seems to be on some sort of revenge mission. The Russian mob is also involved in this somehow and we now have a new player enter the game: a Japanese yakuza who calls himself “Johnny Karaoke.” And yes, you guessed correctly -- dude fancies himself some sort of singer.

Karaoke and his “Geisha Grrls” who serve as his body guards, break into a pharmaceutical research and development office building out to take back something that he believes belongs to him. This thing that Karaoke is seeking is a robotic surgical device called Mimic (which doesn’t work by the way) and it looks to be the thing tying Karaoke, the Russian mob, and this Grotesk together.

And as we know from the previous issue (#659), The Batman is on the case and just so happens to be at the aforementioned office building when this singing Karaoke and his grrls storm the place. While The Dark Knight disposes of this singing fool and his female entourage, Grotesk and the Russian mobster Perun re-enter the story for Part 2’s conclusion.

Grotesk has taken out yet another victim while Perun and his gang are holding hostages at the Tompkins clinic.

Again, I found the writing by John Ostrander quite good -- the story runs at a good pace and allows the reader to play detective along with The Batman. You know that a twist is coming as many things are just too obvious -- to both the Dark Detective and to the reader. And all this talk about The Batman being “too nice” of late is BS. Ostrander provides us with a kick ass, focused, and no nonsense Batman. He’s just not “cRAzY MAN!”

Tom Mandrake’s artwork is rather nice -- especially his work on The Batman himself. He even gives his cape the “pointed shoulder look,” if you will, that was so in vogue back in the 90s. If you like it when it seems that Bat’s cape sort of has a mind of its own, you’ll dig how he looks in “Grotesk.” Although he's colored a tad too blue for my liking, but that's simply my petty personal taste rearing its head.

Anyhow, it looks as if things are starting to come to a head. Part 2 ends with The Batman arriving to save the day and announcing to the bad guys, “Time to bleed.” Can’t wait for Part 3, which by the way arrives before the end of the month.

"Jett" is the founder and editor-in-chief of BATMAN ON FILM, BATMAN IN COMICS, and ON-FILM.NET.

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