Bats and Buzzards

Batman #700

It’s a big anniversary issue of Batman, and Grant Morrison takes over to spin an epic mystery that takes three different Batmen to tell. We start out with Bruce Wayne as Batman and Dick Grayson as a teenaged Robin. They’ve been captured by the Joker, the Riddler, the Scarecrow, Catwoman (wearing her old Silver Age costume), and the Mad Hatter (looking more like the guy played by David Wayne in the old ’60s Batman TV show). The villains have forced a mad-but-not-evil scientist named Professor Carter Nichols to use his time travel technology to send Batman and Robin back and forth through time psychically. And while Joker rants about his special Joker’s Jokebook, plans to send Batman back to the time his parents died, and slash Robin’s face open, Bats finally escapes his bonds and lays the smackdown on everyone.

After that, we jump to today, with Dick Grayson as Batman and Damian Wayne as Robin. They’re investigating the death of Professor Carter Nichols, much older than he should be, and killed with a technologically-advanced laser blast. After laying the traditional black wreath in Crime Alley, knocking some gang members around, making a deal with some of the shady elements of Crime Alley, and eating some pizza, Batman and Robin pay a visit to an underworld auction for one special item.

And then we jump into the future, where Damian Wayne is the Batman. He’s got 20 minutes to keep a toxic rain of Joker Venom from driving everyone in Gotham City insane, rescue a kidnapped child, stop 2-Face-2, and find the Joker’s Jokebook before it falls into the wrong hands.

Verdict: Thumbs way, way, way up. Great writing by Morrison, great art by Tony Daniel, Frank Quitely, Scott Kolins, Andy Kubert, and David Finch, and a ton of really outstanding stuff. Lots of cool moments, too — the Joker smoking the Scarecrow’s fear gas like marijuana, Dick Grayson smiling as he deals with the Crime Alley residents, the creepy future Two-Face, the secret identity of the kidnapped child, and much, much more. If you enjoy Batman stories at all, you’re gonna love this one.

Buzzard #1

The Buzzard is a friend of the Goon — and where the zombies in Lonely Street like to eat people, Buzzard is an immortal who has to eat dead people to survive. After the Zombie Priest was unable to lift the curse on him, Buzzard goes to wandering, crossing somehow from one world to another. He gets himself a zombie horse and saves a town from monsters. And there’s a backup story, too, titled “Billy the Kid’s Old Timey Oddities and the Pit of Horrors.” Billy the Kid is one of the main characters, along with a motley band of cowpokes, witches, and monsters. They come across a gypsy camp where all but one man have been slaughtered. They can’t understand anything he says, so he’s unable to tell them about the monster in the forest stalking them all.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The Buzzard story is pitch dark, but still good fun. The Billy the Kid story is pretty wild — part Western, part horror story, part just plain weird. Why is Billy the Kid hanging out with a giant monster? Let’s hope we find out…

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