Wednesday, September 25, 2013

SPOILERS: Detective Comics #23.4

Kirk Langstrom is in a park, waiting for his wife, or the woman who pretended to be his wife in order to steal the Man-Bat formula. But where normal men may expect their wives to just walk up to them, Kirk is expecting his to show up as She-Bat, hunting prey. Sure enough, she does, and right after Francine snatches up someone, Kirk doses himself with Man-Bat serum and gives chase, eventually catching up to, and defeating his wife, who reverts back to herself. Francine realizes that Kirk must have mixed their two formulas together to beat her, and laughs at him, for not understanding what he's done to himself. Before Kirk can do anything, the police show up, and arrest Francine.

With Batman gone, Kirk develops somewhat of a hero complex, and works tirelessly to perfect his formula, in order to try and keep peace in the streets. He keeps a daily diary of his changes and advancements, but he starts to lose himself in the way his wife predicted.

Where Kirk starts off more virtuous, saving innocent families from thugs, he starts getting paranoid and attacks cops who he believes to be dirty, and jealous of his heroics. His attacks get more and more violent to the point where he's killing some of the people he attacks. Meanwhile, while he's not in his Man-Bat form, he becomes more and more obsessed with perfecting his formula, up until the point where he completely loses himself, ending up doing exactly what his wife Francine did, and hunting innocent civilians to feed.


The Good:

Scot Eaton's issues here and there have all been really good, and this issue is no exception, which makes me pretty excited for his work on Arkham War. For the story, I enjoyed the framing device used by Man-Bat with his diary, showing him losing more and more of himself each day. Even Steve Wands got in on the fun with the lettering, as Man-Bat's captions start off more refined, looking like someone's handwriting, but it devolves throughout the issue into something more primal. I love touches like that, they definitely don't go unnoticed by me.

The Bad: 

The issue was just generally a bit thin on plot, and went by very quickly because of it. There's just not a whole lot of meat to it. There's also some Forever Evil timing funkiness, as we get the fact that Batman is gone, Gotham is in chaos, but by the end, people are chilling in a park, only to be hunted by Man-Bat. Now, that means one of two things... Either whoops, maybe people shouldn't be hanging out in parks while the world has been taken over, or it's implying Forever Evil is over, and parks are cool within 30 days, which is a weird thing to do. And where does that leave the main book when Layman inevitably follows up on this? Also, wasn't it known that the Man-Bat serum came from Kirk? Why don't the cops just go up to his office to arrest him?

The Bottom Line:

If you've been reading Detective Comics and have been interested in Man-Bat's back up stories, then this issue continues that story a bit. There's not as much development as you might expect from the recent issues of Detective, but the one big turn that happens is fairly important to Man-Bat as a character, so it's up to you if want to invest, because the end result could be told to you in a single sentence.


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