I’m a huge Batman fan. I wear Batman clothes, I talk about Batman to my girlfriend (she nods, and pretends to care), I even make YouTube videos about Batman. That being said, I am often disappointed in some of the Batman comic books that I read. A lot of times the stories are re-hashes of old stories, lacking any real plot, or just plain boring.
Issue #400, however, had none of these flaws. It was a great read from beginning to end. The special introduction by Stephen King, surprisingly, was good too. I say ‘surprisingly’ not because of any lack of faith in Stephen King’s writing abilities, but rather because I normally hate introduction, even more so if they are dubbed ‘special’.
I read the whole issue and enjoyed every moment of it. OK, to be honest there were a few times when I wished that Jason Todd would drop dead but other than that it was a great story.
I’ll briefly run down the storyline:
All the major (and some of the minor) crooks in Gotham City are sprung from jail and Arkham Asylum. No one knows who the mastermind is behind the prison break, not even the freed prisoners.
It turns out to be Ras Al Ghul and he offers to help Batman capture and kill all the rogues if Batman will agree to be his partner and help him rule the world.
Batman says ‘No’ and the battle lines are drawn. It’s the Caped Crusader, Robin, Catwoman, and Talia versus pretty much everyone else.
The Joker, Penguin, Poison Ivy, Killer Croc, and the Mad Hatter play the most important part in the story, with a few other villains sprinkled in to add flavor. For example, Catman makes an appearance. Fortunately, he quickly exits stage right.
When it’s all said and done good conquers evil and Batman appears to be reborn, renewed, and ready to fight evil yet again. Ras Al Ghul is killed but it’s a given that he will be resurrected and appear again in the future to further taunt the Dark Knight.
One of the things I didn’t like about this issue was the artwork. Since it was a special anniversary issue 20+ illustrators worked on the interior art. Which means that every few pages the art would suddenly shift and take off in a new direction. This bothered me. It’s like watching a movie that keeps switching from color to black and white and then back again. Just give me one artist and one writer and I’m good. Throw in a good colorist and I’m great.
I suppose I should mention now that Doug Moench wrote the issue. Shout out to him…
If you haven’t read this issue yet it’s well worth the $1 or so you can probably pick it up for these days.
All in all I give it 4 out of 5 stars.