Friday, 10 June 2016

Batman: Ego and Other Tails Review (Darwyn Cooke, Paul Grist)


Batman: Ego and Other Tails collects all of Darwyn Cooke’s Batman comics in one handy volume - and it’s a pretty good read! 

The title story sees Bruce traumatised after seeing one of Joker’s henchmen kill his family and himself rather than wait for the Joker to bust out of Arkham, as he always does, and come for them as payback for ratting him out. The deaths force Bruce to question himself as he talks through his issues with a cartoonishly monstrous Batman! 

It’s an interesting idea but Cooke doesn’t really raise any original points. Cooke makes Batman responsible for the Joker’s creation (that fateful night when the Red Hood entered ACE Chemicals and the Joker left) and, because Bruce’s dad instilled in his son a respect for life, responsible for the Joker’s many murders by refusing to kill him. Cooke’s solution is similarly cliched as the symbol for hope argument is made. Overall it’s a bit of clumsily written story. 

There are a couple of shorts from Batman: Black and White that were very forgettable - I know because I’ve read all of Batman: Black and White and couldn’t remember reading these! Cooke’s artwork on the Paul Grist-written story is wonderful though. 

This book also includes Catwoman: Selina’s Big Score which isn’t technically a Batman comic but is set within his world, using Gotham as the backdrop and the Falcone crime family as the villains. It’s a dummy run for Cooke’s later Parker adaptations at IDW that uses all of the noir/crime cliches but it’s entertaining enough. 

Date Knight is written by Cooke and drawn by Tim Sale. Catwoman and Batman tangle “erotically” across the Gotham skyline in a totally pointless tale. Sale’s splash pages are good though. 

The Catwoman pinup from Solo #5 is reprinted and the volume ends with the superb Batman: Deja Vu, also from the same Solo issue. Riffing on the ‘70s story, Night of the Stalker, Batman takes down a gang of murdering thieves all without saying a word. It’s my favourite of Cooke’s Batman stories, closing out the book on a high note. 

Most of the volume features Cooke’s iconic artwork too, showcasing his different styles from using colour to working in black and white, using thicker lines for Selina’s Big Score to working expertly within the classic eight panel grid in Deja Vu. Cooke was definitely a better artist than he was a writer which isn’t really a swipe at his writing considering the high quality of his art. 

Darwyn Cooke will be best remembered for his Parker adaptations and New Frontier but he wrote some damn fine Batman and Catwoman stories too - Batman: Ego and Other Tails is well worth checking out for fans of those characters.

Batman: Ego and Other Tails

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