Batman-Doc Savage Special: A Very Short Review

There are different flavors of artistic nostalgia.  We see a great deal of steampunk, the riff on Victorian and Edwardian science and style.  (Including us!  Keep your eye on the skies for BVC’s original steampunk anthology, coming soon!) Thanks to Mad Men we’ve got a recent strain of early ’60’s imagery, and The New Frontier was a spectacular reimagination of the ’50s.   Now the folks at DC are making a case that it’s about time for a ’30’s-’40’s pulp look to come back.  They have placed their bet by initiating a new line of comics, the First Wave.  docS

These comics will feature some of the major non-super DC heroes — Batman, the Black Canary, and so on.  From other areas of the creative galaxy they’ve gotten the rights to Doc Savage and the Spirit, who will join in.  The kickoff issue is out this month, a Batman-Doc Savage teamup.

The story itself is kind of meh, especially for a kickoff issue.  But this type of nostalgia is almost always about how it looks.  If it doesn’t create a new aesthetic, a new cool look, then the thing will fail. (This is why nobody has successfully brought back the ’20’s; flapper dresses look terrible on nearly everybody.)  And by this criteria DC is in with a chance.   It does look good, slick clean art, pulpy tech like gyroplanes, gloomy blue nights and Technicolor sunsets.

To make this work, the writer (award winning Brian Azzarello) has had to rubberize the calendar a good bit.  He has made Batman (Bruce Wayne) very young indeed, a brash twenty-year-old dipping his first toe into superheroics.  Even this is a terrible stretch.  If we postulate that the current Batman is forty — generously pushing it — he must have been born during the Carter administration.   But the entire issue of age and comic book heroes is  so supremely difficult that it is easiest to just ignore it, and we will do so here too.  (Some other time, if there is interest, I will expound my own theory of how it can be made to work; like all theories of this type it is unwieldy and  too complicated.)  He’s twenty, and the year is 1949, let’s go with it!

It remains to be seen whether this concept will produce any great comics.  I sure hope so.  All the omens are good!

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About Brenda Clough

Brenda W. Clough spent much of her childhood overseas, courtesy of the U.S. government. Her first fantasy novel, The Crystal Crown, was published by DAW in 1984. She has also written The Dragon of Mishbil (1985), The Realm Beneath (1986), and The Name of the Sun (1988). Her children’s novel, An Impossumble Summer (1992), is set in her own house in Virginia, where she lives in a cottage at the edge of a forest. Her novel How Like a God, available from BVC, was published by Tor Books in 1997, and a sequel, Doors of Death and Life, was published in May 2000. Her latest novels from Book View Cafe include Revise the World (2009) and Speak to Our Desires. Her novel A Most Dangerous Woman is being serialized by Serial Box. Her novel The River Twice is newly available from BVC.

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Batman-Doc Savage Special: A Very Short Review — 2 Comments

  1. Disappointingly, this issue is NOT that cool. (Major sag in plot arc.) However, the series might be very cool indeed. Azzarello is mostly reliable — his BATMAN YEAR ONE was dazzling. I expect that he felt he -had- to save some coolnesses for the kickoff of the actual miniseries in early 2010. And that forced this one-shot to be merely a lagniappe, an amuse-bouche that is not the actual meal.