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Batman #576

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

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN--WE HAVE A WINNER.

Maybe I primed myself beforehand by watching an extrememly cheesy movie on the WB ("Deadly Family Secrets" starring Loni Anderson), but holy sh!t--this issue was one of the single worst comics stories I've ever re-read. EVER. It was so bad that I don't think I could comprehensably review the thing without bursting into tears from laughing so damn hard. But I'll try.

From my perspective, I felt like I was thrust into a bad Japanese movie--you know what I'm talking about. The action is going 100 miles an hour and the actors are rattling off at the tongue even faster. The dialogue is superfluous and superficial. It completely takes over a page, disarming the flow of the story and forcing you to trip over words that just don't belong. Awkward, clumsy--where is the editorial direction here? What the hell is going on? It's almost as if anyone overseeing Hama's psychodellic trip back to the campy serials and TV shows of the 60s is out on a coffee break. I cannot understate how horrible the choice of words was. The adjectives were out of line--I really hope my own writing isn't this flowery or I'm in REAL trouble.

Here's the big question: how stupid does Hama think we are? Why is he giving us a commentator's play-by-play of the action? Is he that insecure with McDaniel's abilities? I honestly do not believe I've seen anything like this before--the level of over-the-topness the word balloons buy into, the melodramatic language--if I wasn't laughing so hard, I would have been puking!!! This is inexcusable! I was in a good mood before, but the longer I sit here and type this out, the more ticked off I am getting. What is this crap? This dribble? How did it make it past the editors? What the heck is going on??? If Hama hadn't been cut loose at this point I don't know what I would have been doing--I think I would have seriously considered mailing this back to the Batman offices at DC.

This is just a bad dream...

There is nothing wrong with the plot (naturally)--where it all goes wrong is the excessive techno-babble of Batman, the out-of-character interaction b/t the "crime-fighter" and the onlookers, and the hackneyed attempts Hama uses to get our sympathy for the situation. Prince Ali (a character borrowed, no doubt, from the pages of "Robin") is a joke, the troubles Batgod goes through only serves to make us laugh (the bullets to the head, Batman running through the "cone" of bullets from a machine gun) and that scene in the sewers with Ali, Batgod, and the petting zoo was just sickeningly trite and WAY out of place. Nothing is left to the imagination EXCEPT for a possible connection between the terrorist called Cypher and Wayne Industries--but even that is a big "so what"? Commisioner Gordan is reduced to a peacekeeper, the other GCPD are basically as effective as sheep, and the technological references quickly get on one's nerves.

Please don't get me wrong--I am not looking for trouble. I thought #575 was a decent read, spoiled by the heavy dialogue in its first half. I had some expectations for #576. Sheeeeee-it. Silly me--this is garbage plain and simple. I don't care who's reading this--this story is one of the worst things to come out of the Bat offices in years. I swear... This issue is worse than "Powerplay." REALLY.

The straight dope: avoid this issue like the plague unless you want a lecture in how NOT to write for comics.

The JYD's grade: "Batman" #576--D -

I only gave it a "D -" b/c I fear THE ORCA storyline is going to set the standard for misery.