Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Batman: Brotherhood of the Bat Review (Doug Moench, Jim Aparo)


I’ve read enough Elseworlds (standalone what if? stories) and Doug Moench Batman books (Knightfall, Prey, Unseen) to know that this Elseworlds book by Doug Moench was going to be complete garbage before I read it – and it was! I just think sometimes reading a really bad Batman comic puts in perspective the Batman comics of today because no matter how bad someone like Tony Daniel fouls up the Dark Knight, he’s head and shoulders above the likes of Moench. Plus you get a few chuckles out of Moench’s awful writing. 

Set in 2053, a modified ebola virus has wiped out 97% of the world and Batman is dead. These two things don’t seem to be connected because first we see the devastation of this virus and then in another panel, without further explanation, we’re told “The Batman is dead”. Simple! Because this is a book from the mid-90s we’re treated to 80s/early 90s visions of the apocalyptic world, you know the kind – badly named gangs of idiots wearing bandanas, somehow finding windows that haven’t been smashed and smashing them. 

Ra’s Al-Ghul is of course behind it all and decides that he will rebuild the world and rule over it himself. Something called the mysterious power of the earth is focused directly beneath Wayne Manor in the former Bat cave - of course! So Ra’s sets up his new base there, complete with a lazarus pit (which can apparently be created using a few barrels of chemicals and a ditch), and discovers Bruce’s designs for various Bat-suits lying in a diary on his desk. 

The plot already feels idiotic as hell but here’s where things verge on the pantomime – Bruce’s diary is called “My Diary” with love hearts drawn on the cover and is lying in plain sight! This is partly an excuse to have the 9 artists – yes, 9 – who worked on this book to supply their own version of the Bat suit, and they’re uniformly terrible! 

So Ra’s takes the designs and turns them into outfits for his elite assassins, the Brotherhood of the Demon, and make them into the Brotherhood of the Bat! They set about killing off Gotham’s roving gang problem. I know Ra’s wants to disgrace Bruce’s memory by having Batmen kill, but surely there’s a better way of restoring order? Relying on 8 guys to do it all? What about the rest of his organisation?

Then we’re introduced to Talia who’s living in some protected part of Gotham with her mulleted son Tallant, who ironically has none! Why did Talia leave the League of Shadows? Why doesn’t she have any henchmen? Why is she a mousy Aunt-May-like figure? No idea. Tallant is Talia and Bruce Wayne’s son and, even though he looks just like him, doesn’t realise this until his 20s! 

Tallant decides to become the true Batman and bring down the Brotherhood from the inside by infiltrating it. Here’s another one of those weird moments when Tallant meets Ra’s – Ra’s stands up, goes behind his stone chair, a couple of minutes pass, and then he emerges in his demon Batman suit. So he was changing behind his chair? That’s hilarious – I think Tallant should’ve made his move then when Ra’s is down to his boxers and socks and beat him up then! I’m surprised Moench didn’t add an extra line for Ra’s – “No peeking, now!”. 

Anyways, Tallant begins tediously picking off the Brotherhood one by one and even though Ra’s notices his Brotherhood thinning and even though he’s the head of a global network of assassins, he doesn’t bother replacing them. So his plan to restore order to the world was these 8 nondescript guys (we never know their names, they just wear Bat suits) and no-one else! Then another bizarre scene happens after Ra’s informs them of their depleted ranks, when he says “You may disperse now but remain in the cave to await further orders” and the Batmen run off in random directions in the cave at speed! Where are they running to?! They don’t have rooms or anywhere to hang out! It’s like they’re kids playing a game of hide and seek! 

Brotherhood of the Bat is sheer madness from start to finish but in a completely half-assed way like Moench was being even lazier and stupider than usual, did one draft of the script, handed it in, then went back to his Play-Doh. This is a book where Barbara Gordon is an ancient old lady – but Jim Gordon is still alive! How old is Gordon!?! And the ending is amazing – Tallant and Ra’s sword fight until Ra’s gets tired of all the nonsense and literally walks away saying he’s bored and that he’s giving Gotham back to Mullet Man! That might be the laziest ending to a Batman story I’ve ever read, and it’s so funny! 

I liked that every version of the Batmobile was used by the different Batmen and the story made me laugh a lot, which I expected it to do, but this is in no way a good Batman book on any level. Want to read a short, totally inept Batman story that makes no sense? Brotherhood of the Bat, or any Doug Moench Batman comic, is for you!

Batman: Brotherhood of the Bat

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