Monday, April 13, 2015

Batman, Volume 6: Graveyard Shift

 Should have been buried by the graveyard shift.

 BATMAN, VOLUME 6: GRAVEYARD SHIFT is one of those odd-duck "Odds & Ends" collections that you see every once in a while that collect all kinds of done-in-one stories that were, for whatever reason, left out of the volumes that should have featured them. Instead of running their collections chronologically, DC is chopping away what they don't consider to be essential reading, and collecting the leftovers in volumes of their own. Much like a warmed-up dinner of scrounged-together leftovers, the results can be somewhat unsatisfying.

 This collection includes BATMAN #'s 0, 18-20, 28, 34, and BATMAN ANNUAL #2, and if that sounds like it'll be choppy, you made the correct call.

 We start out with a puzzling story that leads directly into the BATMAN: ZERO YEAR epic.Why not, I don't know...? COLLECT IT IN THE ALREADY HUGE ZERO YEAR COLLECTIONS??? From there, we get what I was expecting to be a thoughtful rumination on the death of Damian Wayne, but it's really just another "Batman is angry and beats a lot of people up." story. There's a thoroughly ridiculous Arkham Asylum story, and a few stories that will make absolutely no sense to anyone who isn't reading BATMAN ETERNAL (That includes me.)

 One of my hot-buttons is the way that DC includes the back-up stories from individual issues immediately after the main story from that issue, providing no break whatsoever, and no context. You go right from Batman being captured by Clayface to Batman and Superman teaming up against Cthulhu-lite. To make matters worse, the Batman/Superman story is a two-parter, so you have two two-part stories running simultaneously, one within another. Ugh.

 DC has included, to their credit, a text page explaining why these stories seem to make no sense whatsoever. Not much use, but a step in the right direction. If anyone at DC happens to read this: It's a nice idea, but it would have been better to have a recap page before each story, placing it into the overall context and giving insight into ZERO YEAR, BATMAN, INCORPORATED, and BATMAN ETERNAL. Like I said, it is a step in the right direction, so I can't be too down on least they attempted to be new-reader friendly. Woe be to the new reader that chooses to read this book, though....

 DC Comics provided a review copy.