Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Batman: Dead To Rights Review (Andrew Kreisberg, Scott McDaniel)


Spoilers ahoy but they’re minor ones and this is an inconsequential Batman story anyway. 

Dead To Rights is Andrew Kreisberg’s imagining of Batman/Joker’s first encounter. It’s got a number of flaws but it’s not a bad book and I was never bored reading it. The problems have to do with Kreisberg’s efforts in trying to make Joker look scary which are amusingly stupid and completely fail. 

For instance, when Joker’s brought into the police station and given his phone call, he calls up the arresting officer’s wife at home and convinces her to kill herself. Joker then tells everyone what he said to her and it isn’t convincing at all. I’m paraphrasing but it goes like this: “You’ve got an incurable disease so you should kill yourself, yes, I’m really your honest to god doctor, no, don’t get a second opinion, just kill yourself right now!” You would have to be the most gullible, feeble-minded soul to hear his nonsense and then hang yourself! 

Then at the court he manages to find out the judge has a peanut allergy, gets ahold of a peanut, tosses it from the front of the court into the judge’s glass of water - all of which is unseen by anyone - and the judge dies drinking the peanut-laced water. And then Joker gets a banana skin and drops it in front of a psychologist witness who slips on it and dies. So ridiculous! 

It doesn’t help that Scott McDaniel’s artwork adds to the cartoony effect of Joker’s shenanigans - the comic looks like any Batman animated show aimed at the kiddles. This isn’t dark and creepy Joker, it’s contrived and silly Joker. Those moments aside, Kreisberg writes a pretty compelling Joker which is why I can’t dislike this book - Joker’s one of my favourite DC characters and he was really entertaining in this one. 

Kreisberg deftly sets up the rest of the Batman world-to-come, introducing Harvey Dent and Renee Montoya as well as Arkham which gets turned into an asylum just for Joker. As daffy as Joker’s murders were though the worst part of the book was Bad Cop, arguably one of the most laughable Batman villains ever. He’s - yup - a bad cop. I won’t say any more partly because there isn’t a whole lot more to him but his entire character was moronic from start to finish and what’s worse is I think we’re meant to view him as a tragic character! Dude was impossible to take seriously even for a moment. 

The tone of Dead To Rights is all over the shop and there’s a lot of eye-rolling idiocy throughout but it definitely wasn’t unreadable and I was surprisingly entertained enough. It’s by no means the best Batman/Joker first meeting story out there - check out The Man Who Laughs for that - but it was ok. Worth a look if you see it at the liberry but don’t expect much from it.

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