Beware the Batman #1 by Ivan Cohen (Comics Review)

In a bizarre coincidence recently, DC Comics launched Ivan Cohen and Luciano Vecchio’s Beware the Batman #1 just at the same time as Cartoon Network took the show Beware the Batman off-air, with no apparent hope for a return. The show had apparently had low ratings and a cancellation was undoubtedly due, but the suddenness of the fact has left a lot of people dissatisfied. Particularly since Cartoon Network did the same thing last year with Young Justice and Green Lantern: The Animated Series. And this eventually led to a cancellation of the respective comics as well.

DC seems to be in some kind of an abusive relationship with Cartoon Network that it can’t get out of, given the latter’s behaviour and attitude with respect to the former’s television line-up. It sends the wrong message to fans that the shows have a very limited window in which to get on board or forget about the whole thing. I can only hope that these recent events don’t lead to a cancellation of the Beware the Batman comic, since it just launched, for one and two, it wasn’t all that bad really.

Beware the Batman #1 001I haven’t seen the television show, so I don’t really know what exactly is the premise, but reading the comic, a few things jump out. Katana is Batman’s sidekick and not any of the Robins or even Batgirl. Alfred is this fully-bald old guy who doesn’t address Bruce as Master Bruce, just Bruce. Based on the show’s animation, the artwork is a bit off and often unpolished. The whole vibe feels a bit wrong, but the story was fairly decent, all told. There’s a female mayor in Gotham!

The story here involves a pseudo-Occupy Movement group that has recently arrived in Gotham, possibly spurred on and encouraged by a shadowy figure. At the same time, Stagg Industries is rolling out a new home security feature, something that sets Batman’s alarm bells when he meets with the division’s new head, a Robert Catesby, who is not what he seems. Some detective work later, there is the inevitable showdown that doesn’t go according to plan, but in all respects, the issue was classic Batman animated.

To start off with, it feels like the comic is set somewhere in the middle of the show’s continuity, since there are hints and clues as to how none of this is a “start”. Things like Katana wielding a sword that is not her usual soul-stealing variety, Alfred walking around with a crutch, Batman already being an established vigilanted with the police hunting him down with a task force that doesn’t make an appearance, and Katana acting as Bruce’s driver. The latter is clearly somewhat of a subtle reference to Mercy Graves being Lex Luthor’s driver. IIRC, Mercy was created for Superman: The Animated Series, so it kind of fits here. So that’s all the stuff that jumped out at me. I’m not really bothered by any of that really. I think it gives an interesting spin on the character and the setting, and its not overdone, not with this issue at least.

The only thing that bothered me here was Katana being Batman’s sidekick. That’s not how she’s portrayed in the current comics, where she’s a member of the Justice League of America, a JL team directly under the authority of Director Amanda Waller of ARGUS. And that’s really not how I see the character either. She plays well as a team, but she’s not sidekick material like the Robins have been/are or like how Batgirl used to be. Its just… odd.

I’m clearly not the exact demographic for this comic since I haven’t seen the show, didn’t even know it was being aired actually, so I clearly am missing out on some of the plot things, but all the same, I think it was a pretty decent story, and that the twists are interesting. So there’s that.

Joining Vecchio on the art are colourist Franco Riesco, and letterer Wes Abott. The art is based on the show itself, which was heavy on the CGI from what sneak-peeks I’ve seen, and so some of the things really feel off, just as Batman and Alfred’s physiques, and the too-wide eyes on most of the characters. And, Katana doesn’t really look Japanese. Her face is very… generic and doesn’t stand out, which is a bit of a shame. But other than those nitpicks, the artwork is pretty solid. Its not campy/cheesy and its not super-grim. In fact, given how straightforward and non-grim the story is, the art helps build up the whole all-ages demographic that the show undoubtedly goes for. And that has a place in all of DC’s Batman comics, because it is different and… unique. Li’l Gotham is the only title that surpasses that I think. Riesco goes for some bold, strong colours and he helps sell the demographic angle too. No blood, no dark overbearing shadows, no gothic-aspects.

A fun comic. It remains to be seen whether this will be solicited further for next week given recent developments.

Rating: 7.5/10

Posted on October 28, 2013, in Comics Reviews, Review Central and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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