Thursday, 23 July 2009

Untold Legend of The Batman

You know how you get some storys stook in your head, some images that just stay with you. One for me is the death of Robin of Loxley in Robin of Sherwood series 2 (we didn't have seasons of shows back then - you may also of heard me call it the best episode of a TV show ever). Another was Batman confronting ghosts and being shocked out of it by... welll I get to that later. Took me ages to track down, I had to ask on the DCU board. Should have just asked @Rickleton tho, he remembered it as clear as day as I'd lent it to him.

Well not the original, this was the 80s and I hadn't got my comic addiction hobby stateside then.

This was a UK reprint issue with Mr Freeze on the cover.

Tho the story I was interested in was called The Untold Legend of the Batman!

Dramatic, huh?

Issue 1

Hmm... someone has shredded Batman's dad's costume. Seems he actually wore it to fight crime, abeit accidentally. I always thought it was just to a fancy dress party once.

Interesting, this seems to be a flashback story, like a tour through pre-crisis Batman's history.

Crikey, Leslie Thompkins was Joe Chill's mother. Raising the son of the people he killed, that's got to have been awkward.

Seems pre-crisis Batman dressed up as Robin when he trained to become the world's greatest dective. That's sorta creepy, going around adopting kids and making them dress up like you did as a youth.

Bruce learns about justice v the law via a college professor. Nice. "No son, that's the law." Indeed.

Adverts are fun - Superman & Wonder Woman vs Spidey and the Hulk.

Batman gets to confront Joe Chill, tho he looks older than he did in Year Two (The post-crisis meeting). Unmasking wasn't smart Brucie, how are we going to get out of this one? Yelling "I'm Bruce Wayne" wasn't subtle. I don't fancy Joe's chance of surviving the next page...

... ah Bats couldn't do anything to him. He just let him run away, but the people Chill was working for shot him for bringing Batman to their door before he could tell them what he knew.

Only he's not dead. Just dying. Time for a death bed chat.

Bats has just found out that someone hired Chill and has ".. Just Reopened the wayne murder case!" Sounds a bit odd to me. It was probably cooler in 1980. That someone was the guy who Thomas Wayne fought as Batman back at the start of the issue.

For reasons unclear in the flashbacks, Batman's costume is shredded so he has to wear his dad's costume to confront the guy. He's so scared he runs infront of a car.

Plotwise, all that happened was Batman's dad costume got shredded and replaced by a sinister note.

I don't remember this at all. Maybe the one I had only had 2 and 3 in it. This rang no bells.

It is a nice piece of history as according to Overstreet, it's John Bryne's first work for DC.

Quite controversal too.

Issue 2

Back in our main plot, Batman beats on some sterotypical goons to try and find out who sent him the shredded costume. Tho he seems to be a going a bit Punisher on them.

I love that it tells you the story is "continued on the 3rd page following" so you don't confuse the adverts with what's going on.

Robin's concerned and it's his turn to have a Wayne's World moment. I guess this is the pre-crisis Dick Grayson origin coming up then.

You think watching them die was tough, dick? Wait until they rise from the dead in Blackest Night. That'll mess with your head for sure. Tho I've just jumped 29 years in the future. Back to the flashback...

Batman grabs Dick on the night his folks die, just after he finds out who did it. Batman stops him going to the police with the info, takes him to the cave and makes him "swear that you'll fight against crime and corruption - and never swerve from the path of justice" in some kind of strange candlelit ritual in the batcave. Pre-crisis Batman was creepy.

Now Batman gives dick his old Robin suit.

In an advert, Green Lantern (Hal) clears a rock from a bobsled so the bobsledders can eat a twinkie. You go GL!

In the next advert, the premiere of The New Teen Titans (the Wolfman / Perez incarnation) looks pretty damn awesome.

Back in the Robin flashback, Dick thinks that his "adolescence would go on for ever". Don't worry, you'll be Batman someday. I guess he's been a kid since April 1940, so 40 years at this stage.

Alfred's concerned, which is cue for an Alfred flashback. Seems like a "in the war" conversation to himself. After the war he was an actor, who became a butler because "for generations there has been a pennyworth in domestic service." And it was his father's dying wish to see his son become a butler to.

Alfred arrives at Wayne Manor unannouced and just butles(?), even tho Thomas never asked for a butler.

He found out that Bruce was Batman after Bats was badly beaten and Dick walked him up the stairs to the clock.

Did he not notice that Bruce and Dick were spending a lot of time together at night?

I wonder if it'll explain where the giant dinosaur came from. Always wondered that.

Back in the present, Bruce snarls "You want suspects Alfred? Here--- take your pick!" Which is a splash page of poloroid mugshots. We've got the famous ones, but some that didn't stand the test of time, like "The Black Spider", "TweedleDum and TweedleDee".

Quick Joker origin, an early Red Hood one, which is pretty cool.

Now two face, which is the by the book accused throwing acid in the face one.

The batmobile's just exploded and another sinister note.

Don't remember this one either, I guess it was just the final part I had.

To be concluded...

Issue 3

Ah, now this is familliar, Batman stood over the ruined batmobile. "This means war." Good-o.

The batcave seems to be under the streets of Gotham atm. Moving that huge dinosaur around has to be a pita.

Seems Batman has a pet stuntman who he rescued who builds Batmobiles. Dick orders another one. Another for me, please. Put it on the tab.

Batman goes out to beat on the lowlife of Gotham once more and talk to some contacts. Not much detecting going on, I must say. Maybe there was a clue in the Batmobile remains? Nah? Nah.

Gordan, reckons, he subconciously doesn't want to find any clues. Which sounds fair enough, he could try harder imo.

Flashack time, to Gordan meeting Batman for the first time.

Batgirl (Barbara) captures someone by giving them a twinkie to distract them.

Aptly, Gordon has a flashback to Batgirls origin. I had forgotten that pre-crisis she was his daughter. Too used to the current niece/adopted daughter situation I guess.

A very Morgan Freeman looking Lucius Fox gets the moody Bruce treatment, but not flashback for him. No siree, we're in full on story mode now.

Bruce starts to workout what's going on, and it's back to Wayne Manor, and he starts to see hallucinations, which seem more like memorys and onto the regular batcave...

The batcave walls start to close in...

... and he's confronted by Bruce Wayne! He's been driven mad by himself, in a plotline quite close to Grant Morrison's run on Batman last year.

He was caught in an explosion in the regular title. (It was mentioned in this miniseries, just your commentator didn't tell you. Bad me.)

The walls close in more and it's his dad in his costume come to save him, Batman comes to his senses and saves his dad from the crushing walls.

It wasn't another hallucination, but Robin all along! And Batman knew, world's greatest detective, see.

Batman thanks him and goes to strike a moody pose over the skies of Gotham. ".. for the Batman is a legend and legends can never die!"

Sounds familiar.

We finish with a tour of the second batcave, under the wayne foundation building, which explains that the giant t-rex comes from Batman #35! Hurrah!


That was fun, not quite the story I remembered, but then I only had the last part and I must have read it at least a hundred times. I didn't have many Batman comics, I was an Eagle, Mask and Transformers reader and my pocket money didn't go as far as Batman.

It was interesting how many threads from this series are at play in the dcu now.

Amazon have the collected version pretty cheap.

(Makes a change from an album plug, eh?)

1 comment:

  1. I know exactly what you mean about a story that sticks in your head, (why else did I remember it!) and this story is one of those. I think for me it was my first introduction to the rich backstory and history that has been woven into the Batman and the way it can be utilised. It's a prime example as the story largely serves to layout Batman's key points, making it a good start point for newer readers. Unless they only read part 3!! And until a Crisis happens! Certainly it's one of the greats as it's stuck in my head for so many years, and a great nostalgia kick.