What’s the point of this series again?

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If you could go back and tell all the Batman origin stories in multi-part tales to amuse and astound readers, you would have Batman Confidential. Unfortunately, the first arc didn’t do a darn thing for me, and I couldn’t tell you if it told the origin of the Batplane, Batmobile, or Batcycle. It was just so booooooorrrrriiiiiiinnnnnnggggg. When issue #7 arrived at my door, with the promise of telling the true origin of the Joker, my interest was piqued, and I’m going to stick with the series, for not other reason than I’m a Batman fanatic. But should you be reading this series?

The problem with Batman Confidential is it tells early tales of the Batman and how many of key elements in the Bat-verse came to be. Why is this a problem? Because, DC canceled Legends of the Dark Knight, which, when original conceived, told early tales of Batman and how many of the key elements in the Bat-verse came to be. In my opinion the only thing wrong with LoDK was DC gave up on it in favor of a slick and glossy cover to Confidential as it was attempting to trim the excess from the Batman books. Had DC stayed the course and not let LoDK get caught up in the many Batman crossover events, the writers could be telling the origin of the Joker in that series instead of Confidential.

Enough of my ranting – I’m just bitter Legends was canceled, and it is just the tip of the iceberg of the constant canceling and restarting of the various titles (Legion of Super-Heroes anyone?).

So Batman Confidential #7 – Lovers and Madmen. I actually set this review down a couple of times to do other things, and in the week since I started, I’m still conflicted on the story. On the one hand, we get to see where the Joker begins his path to being a criminal mastermind. On the other, there’s this moment where Jack meets Harley for the first time, and it makes you just groan.

In the 42 weeks since Batman donned his cape and cowl and began hunting the criminal element in Gotham, crime has actually dropped. And there are many pages devoted to Bruce monologuing how crime in the city works, and how he, as the city’s protector must work his way from the lowly pusher, to the middleman, to the eventual arrest of the big boss. This makes him feel pretty good about himself, and decides to treat himself to a trip to the museum. There he meets yet another pretty face for him to have a romantic connection with, and who eventually will either discover his true identity, be killed, or become employed by Wayne Enterprises as a way for Bruce to not feel guilty about something or other.

But before all of this happens, Batman needs to solve: “The Case of the Crazy Jewelry Store Robbery.”

It is a pretty strange robbery to be sure, and it is going to require a good detective to sort out. One of the things I liked most about this issue was the exchange between Gordan and Batman.

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While the jewelry store was broken into by an apparent pro, and everyone inside was killed, not a single item was stolen. A mystery indeed.

That is until we meet the mope behind the crimes sitting at a bar drowning his misery in a never ending glass of ginger ale. Ladies and gentlemen meet the Clown Prince of Crime, we know him now simply as… Jack…

Misery loves company and a pretty little waitress comes over to keep him company for a few pages moments.

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Gag.

Just simply gag.

I can understand wanting to write something witty that gets everyone to go, “awww… here’s where the lovers meet for the first time,” but really, the first meeting was already established in Batman Adventures: Mad Love.

“But Stephen,” you say, “That is the animated series. It has nothing to do with regular continuity.”

You’d be wrong, of course. Harley Quinn was introduced in Batman: The Animated Series, and it was only after her popularity in Mad Love that Harley was brought over from the animated series during the Batman: No Man’s Land series (Batman #570 to be exact). If those issues tell how Harley and Mr. J. got together for the first time, why are the editors allowing this meet up here?

“Ah, but Stephen,” you say once again, “technically ‘Jack’, hasn’t become the Joker, so this could actually be the first meeting between the two.”

Spoken like a true shill for the man, dear reader. It still does nothing to remove the taste of bile from my mouth.

Anyway, mopey Jack wanders off, and taking “Leeny’s” advice decides he wants something different, more dangerous. And what’s more dangerous than causing a disruption in your latest heist to cause a shootout between the cops and robbers?

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Here is my biggest fear about this arc. With The Dark Knight just around the corner, a couple of things are going to happen; either what we are reading in these pages is the type of origin we are going to see in the upcoming movie, or DC will once again rewrite the origin to align it with the movie. It’s a thin line to walk that could either come over brilliantly, or could be a total cluster-fudge.

Just when it looks like Jack has given up all hope of ever finding meaning in his life, Batman arrives on the scene.

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And thus begins the decent into madness.

Even with all my bitching and complaining, the story is a solid one. For those that are new to the Bat titles, the Confidential series introduces these readers to the early days of Batman. And that’s fine – it keeps newbies from being mired down in the last twenty years of continuity. It is clear Michael Green can tell a story, even in this one issue there is a set-up, the build, and finally a reveal that leaves us hanging for the next issue. And if this does become the canon origin story of the Joker, then I’ll be “okay” with that – however, I think the story most die-hard fans are going to hold onto is the one told in the pages of The Killing Joke.

I’m not a big fan of the art in the issue, as I’m not a fan of scratchy line drawings, which probably explains why I’m avoiding Sam Keith’s next Bat-book. The style no-doubt works for a lot of people, but it isn’t the style that is highest on my list. That being said, at least the artist keeps everyone looking the same from one panel to the next, which is more than I can say about some artists.

Will Jack done a red hood and fall in a vat of chemicals? Will Batman’s batarangs cause a disfiguring scar on Jack’s face? Will companies ever decide on a one true origin story, and leave it at that? I have no problem remaking a story for modern audiences. The most recent Psycho movie proved people will pay money for a shot by shot remake. In twenty years, I wouldn’t mind if DC released this same story again but with a different artist, and a writer who tweaks the story slightly. At least it would show commitment to an idea. But I think we all know that’s not going to happen. For now I’m going to give Batman Confidential #7 3 out of 5 Stars. It is a solid start to yet another retelling of a character’s origin.

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The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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5 Comments

  1. Chris
    July 26, 2007 at 4:46 pm — Reply

    The art looks horrible. The guns are oversized, I dislike the colours (especially Batman, ugh, blue) and its a retelling that we don’t need. I agree with all points about the thought of a slight retelling of the Killing Joke. And the bar scene looks like pure slop. Not one I’ll be picking up!

  2. AlexM
    July 27, 2007 at 2:55 am — Reply

    just do the review no need to get all hystrical cause they canceled a book

  3. July 27, 2007 at 7:30 am — Reply

    Where’s the fun in writing if you can’t go off on a wild tangent every once in a while? Oh, right, there isn’t…

  4. July 27, 2007 at 7:51 am — Reply

    just do the review no need to get all hystrical cause they canceled a book

    With all due respect, Alex, if you’re looking for a cut and dried boring review, there’s a million places to get that… Stephen’s opinions are valid, and the commentary pertinent to a Batman review.

    Not only that, if you’ll direct your attention downwards, you might notice the words “Copyright Stephen Schleicher?” It’s his party, and he’ll bitch about Legends of The Dark Knight if he wants to. :)

  5. AlexM
    July 28, 2007 at 2:00 am — Reply

    you know you have a point sorry stephen its your review do what fells natural my bad

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