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Batman #575
Hama (w), McDaniel (p), Story (i)
Reviewed by JYD


Essentially, "Batman" #575 has two parts to it, one very clumsy, and one that works very well. Notice how I did not say "one part that sucks"--clumsy is a much more appropriate word. By this I am referring to the dialogue and heavyhandedness of the middle chunk of the story. Hama's tendency to hammer the point home with layered explanations, especially during the action sequences didn't annoy me so much as make me laugh. I chuckled. Other parts that made me laugh: Banner and Batman exposing with each other while battling it out and Special Agent Leary's over-the-top melodramatic reactions to everything. All of this clusiness is complemented by Scott's pencils (absolutly amazing--personally I think they would work even better w/out color--the juxtaposition is done that nicely) and (believe it or not) by Larry Hama's pacing. The man can tell an action story--he just over does it. And that's what kills it!

***SPECIAL MESSAGE FOR LARRY: The dialogue was 80% OK. It was just that 20% that ruined it. Lines like "leave him alone you turkey" or "he's swinging the oil drums towards the Truman building" were garish examples of some of the worst of the worst. Having your reader laugh is not what you should be aiming for Lethal One. Sorry. Having the pictures explained isn't what I'm looking for in a comic. But dude--can you find a way to contain yourself? You're a smart guy and I loved the action (your story smarts meld well with Scott's VERY dynamic pencils)--but it all too over-the-top--you may not want to hear this, but it was something out of an event movie like "Armageddon" and "Godzilla." Your readership is primarily in their twenties and college educated. We can handle some intellegence. END NOTE TO LARRY***

Unfortunately, Hama still was not able to get a grasp on the Batman character. Rather than being the strong silent type, he is very verbose, though, thankfully, not as prolific as in his fight/verbal abuse with Mr. Freeze back in "Powerplay." Hama has turned Batman into a bat-god, able to shrug off bullets to the head, (practically) fly, perform death defying acrobatics, and resist all laws of physics and gravity. Bat-god interacts with the FBI on a one-to-one basis, allowing agents to do various tests on the Batmobile and always knowing where to be on time--he's psychic really. Not everything is doom and gloom though. The last part of the story is (and I never thought I'd find myself saying this) well-written. Hama's dialogue has been tamed down and he actually allows the story to tell itself w/out inserting himself into the word baloons. And, get this--there's subtlity! Amazing! The reader is allowed to think for themseves on two occasions--when Batman and Leary are falling she voices some concerns (though in real life I would imagine she would be screaming her guts out) which Hama allows the reader to interpret AND we get to see that the Banner's so-called "followers" are actually...dummies!

So basically, if you remove the rediculous costume from the Banner, cut out HALF of what everyone is saying, tame Batman's interaction with the FBI, and have an EDITOR do some firm weeding, we've got a story here! UNFORTUNATELY, none of these actions were CARRIED OUT and the result is a diluted story inducing the WRONG reactions from its readers. So here's the question: given time, can Larry Hama become a decent Batman writer? He's got the imagination, he can make up cool villains, he knows his stuff in terms of military and action. HOWEVER, he doesn't know Batman. Any superhero could have been inserted into that story--and that's where the main problem is. I don't think Lethal Larry could have turned out story we all would have loved. His progress was too slow, his ability to change the problems with his NML stories not evident. He's gone, and regretably, his ideas go with him. If only there was a way for him to have a co-writer--there's a POSSIBILITY things might have worked out. But I doubt that would have worked either.

Final thought: #575 proved that Larry ain't all that bad, but he ain't all that good either--at least the HORRIBLE puns were gone (and that's a baby step).

The JYD's grade: "Batman" #575--C +