Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Batman/Elmer Fudd #1 Review (Tom King, Lee Weeks)

I think like most people I viewed the DC/Looney Tunes crossover comics skeptically, that they were simply novelty products that couldn’t possibly be any good. And while I can’t speak to the quality of the others as I haven’t read them, Batman/Elmer Fudd was bizarrely quite decent! 

Elmer Fudd and Silver St Cloud fall in love so her jealous ex, Bruce Wayne, has her killed - or so Elmer thinks. Wabbits? No. Elmer’s hunting wich pwayboys for revenge - ssshhh!

The relative success of this comic stems in large part from the expectations the reader brings to it. Because I had no idea what angle this comic would take and expected it to be the usual Looney Tunes hyper-silliness, I was pleasantly surprised and immediately interested with the dead-serious, noirish tone writer Tom King went for - it upends those assumptions, immediately becoming more interesting, and actually works really well! 

King writes Elmer completely straight - though he retains his characteristic and humorous speech impediment which, as the issue is written from his perspective, does get annoying to read quite quickly - and I liked that he gave him dignity and honour when he’s usually the farcical clown, the butt of every joke. I even bought that he was a quasi-serious threat to Batman and thought their encounter was astonishingly exciting. 

In keeping with the tone, artist Lee Weeks draws the famous Looney Tunes characters as realistic humans. It’s fascinating to see Weeks’ interpretations, particularly for the animal characters like Porky, Taz and Wile E. Coyote, to name a few. Bugs especially was kinda shocking and unexpectedly sad. 

As clever as the setup is, the story’s resolution is very weak, abrupt and forgettable (as most noir stories tend to be as they’re overly reliant on a huge dump of clunky exposition to wrap things up). It lets the issue down, exposing it as the contrived and half-baked crossover it seemed like from the title. There’s also a Batman/Elmer Fudd backup written/drawn in the classic Looney Tunes style full of wacky comedy that, like the cartoons themselves from a grown-up’s viewpoint, was more tedious than funny. 

All that said, Batman/Elmer Fudd definitely wasn’t bad. The premise, characterisation and art were very strong though the way the story played out was unsatisfying and the backup was disposable. On the whole it was an unusually clever crossover comic that’s worth a look for curious fans of either franchise.

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