Thursday, 14 May 2015

Batman: The Black Glove Deluxe Edition (DC) review

Batman: The Black Glove Deluxe Edition
Because I'm poorly-plotted!
Writer: Grant Morrison

Artists: Andy Kubert, J.H. Williams III, Tony S. Daniel, Ryan Benjamin, John Van Fleet, Jesse Delperdang, Jonathan Clapion, Mark Irwin, Sandu Florea and Aleem Crawford.

Collects: Batman 655-658, 663-669 and 672-675.

Background Information

Batman's had a lot of girlfriends in his time; and he hasn't exactly believed in saving himself for marriage, either. Most of the time this has resulted in said girlfriend dying... often... in very disturbing ways... because dead parents aren't motivation enough. There have only really been three Batman girls that, to my knowledge, have survived him. The first is Vicki Vale, who is allowed to hang around to be the nice girl in comparison to the second, Catwoman; who gets to be known as the sleazy girlfriend (seriously, I'm picturing a "six types" video about this, College Humor). But probably the most significant to recent Batman stories has been Tahlia Al Ghul, daughter of League of Assassins boss Ra's Al Ghul, and guano-crazy girlfriend (geddit, because bats... it's called guano... and this is a Batman story...).

Anyway, Bruce was intimate with her once while under the influence of.... something. That's all you need to know here.

Review:

Y'know how the New 52 is awful, right?

Like, seriously bad?

And how the pre-52 stuff is so much objectively better?

Nope, he looks like Bane. Is he Bane?
Yeah, The Black Glove is no proof of that. It's long, it's convoluted and the entire deluxe edition seems to have no continuous plot at all.

But of course I'm going to try to explain it anyway. Batman's most regrettable one-night-stand comes back and dumps a child in his lap. That child is Damien Wayne; Bruce's son and future Robin. From there we get visions of demons in bat costumes, actual people committing murder in bat costumes and a bunch of international superheroes wearing bat costumes. In case you haven't figured it out yet, there are a lot of bat costumes in this book. There's no cohesion to this collection. It really feels like you aren't reading a single story at all, and for this kind of book to be considered worthy of a deluxe edition feels... wrong.

The only thing that connects the entirely unconnected stories (aside from the bat costumes) is Bruce's relationship with Jezebel Jet, who has to be the least African-looking woman in the whole of Africa. I'm not saying the woman needs to borrow all of her lines from The Lion King, but her skin tone looks less African more... like Starfire. In some panels, she actually looks Caucasian. I seriously hope people got upset over that because it feels ridiculous. What's worse is that she has no real point to be in the story. She points out that Bruce can't handle a relationship because of his superhero identity; and thank goodness Morrison wrote that in because otherwise it would have only been insanely overdone. Here, it becomes insanely, stupidly overdone.


Noo! THEY KILLED... wait, who is that? Y'know
what? Don't care.
Now, I'm willing to accept that Morrison's writing a much longer story arc than even the deluxe edition of The Black Glove can contain. Morrison definitely writes that way. But standing on its own, this volumes fails in the story department. It's a shame because the book is peppered with some moments that are good to read. There was Joker's declaration that he's killed someone who he thinks is Batman in front of a bunch of kids, he intends to do the same to Santa Claus. That made that sadistic maniac inside me laugh a little bit. Damien is a little brat, but he's the perfect little brat. And the imitation Batman look brilliantly creepy in their own ways. Problem is that these are moments they're not stories, and simply don't make the book entertaining.

Despite the art being handled by SO many people, I didn't notice many differences in The Black Glove's visuals (aside from Jezebel's skin suddenly turning white). It looks good enough; all artists are able to draw characters who get brutalised in gut-wrenching fashions, and that pain leaps off the page. There's even a great little nod to the silver age of comics where flashbacks are done in that four-colour style. Panelling is also a winner here, with odd shapes dominating the pages. It's a good-looking book, and it's just a shame that we're being let down by such an average plot.

The Black Glove, I assume, should never be read by someone who hasn't read all of Grant Morrison's Batman run. I haven't and as such, I give it a three out of five kilos of Guano.

***

+ Awesome Art
+ Nice moments, but...
- Plot is weak overall.
- Jezebel Jet's character is uncompelling and pointless.

Alternate Option: Batman: Hush

If you want a pre-52 Batman, this is a better one.