26 August 2015

Faster than a DC Bullet: Project Gotham, Part IV: Batman: Prey

Comic trade paperback, 252 pages
Published 2012 (contents: 1992-2003)

Borrowed from the library
Read October 2014
Batman: Prey

Writer: Doug Moench
Penciller: Paul Gulacy
Inkers: Terry Austin, Jimmy Palmiotti
Letterers: John Costanza, Kurt Hathaway
Colorists: Steve Oliff, James Sinclair

Year One, November - Year Two, November
This edition of Prey collects two stories; the first, "Prey" (duh), follows on pretty well from Matt Wagner's two Dark Moon Rising stories even though they were released later; Batman and the Monster Men ends with Hugo Strange becoming a television psychologist, and that's exactly what he's doing here, and even though nothing "Prey" indicates they've battled before, nothing indicates they haven't, either. "Prey" is a solid early days of Batman story, capitalizing on Batman's early inexperience, and giving him an effective villain in the person of Strange, who actually in working psychologically here, unlike in The Monster Men. My favorite bit is something you could only pull off in the comics medium; Strange is frequently seen talking a blond women in his apartment, but it's very late in the game that you learn she's only a mannequin. Only in comics would a mannequin be indistinguishable from an very complacent person.

The second story is "Terror," which is set about a year later, when Batman's rogues gallery was much more developed. (It takes place between Batman: Year Two: Fear the Reaper and Absolute Batman: Dark Victory, which are coming up later in this readthrough.) Both Scarecrow and Catwoman play key roles in the story. Unfortunately, it feels much less focused than its predecessor, and Strange is shockingly eliminated about halfway through. Effective as a "twist," and the repeated image of his corpse is haunting, but I kept on expecting him to come back to life somehow and set this story back on the path it seemed to begin on. A waste of a good villain if nothing else.

Next Week: Batman battles the Joker for the first time in The Man Who Laughs!

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