thehefner: (Default)
[personal profile] thehefner posting in [community profile] scans_daily
Five months after the smash hit release of the Tim Burton film, a new Batman comic strip ran in newspapers from 1989 to 1991. Following the film in spirit but set in an entirely new continuity, the first storyline was written by Max Allan Collins (Road to Perdition, creator of Post-Crisis Jason Todd) and illustrated by the late, great Marshall Rogers (Batman: Strange Apparitions, which still looks stellar today).

I've fallen head over heels in love with this comic strip. Naturally, my love doesn't really kick in until Harvey Dent becomes a major supporting character in the next storyline, which may be one of the most original and interesting takes on the character I've seen anywhere, in any medium. I actually suspect that it influenced the creators of Batman: The Animated Series.

But even from the start, I love how Collins (and his successor, William Messner-Loebs) didn't try to simply regurgitate the old stories for newspapers, but came up with distinctly different characterizations, origins, and plots, while the stories themselves feel completely divorced from comics of any era. They're fun, suspenseful, moving, and occasionally, even a bit on the cracky side.

Note: These scans are from Comics Revue magazine, issues #41-43, published in 1990. It's the only time these strips have been reprinted anywhere. As they're incredibly rare, I've posted the entire story, and plan to post every other strip as they appeared in CR, as these wonderful stories deserve attention and preservation.

Mods, if this is a problem, please let me know. I wrote to you guys about this, but received no reply, so I went ahead and posted it all anyway. This strip is pretty much a continuous story, so I have no real way of knowing how--or even if--I should edit it down.

By sheer ridiculous luck, I managed to find a reprint of these strips signed by Marshall Rogers himself (who, strangely, seems to be given sole credit for Max Allan Collins' story), as you'll see in the very first image below. Mainly for the sake of his own detailed artwork, I've scanned a couple of these Sunday strips a bit larger than the rest.

Even still, the scan quality varies. I'd love to see a high-quality collection in proper print as they deserve. I wonder why that's never happened? Or, for that matter, why hasn't any of Stan Lee's Spider-Man seen a single collection? Are there rights issues with the distributor or something?

All right, all right, enough ado. On with the comic!

Harvey Dent: stuffy, lawsuit-fearing bureaucrat. He's not exactly the same crime-smashing hotshot we usually know. In the next storyline, new writer Bill Messner-Loebs greatly steps up the stakes for Dent when it comes to Batman. I have to wonder if Max Allan Collins and Messner-Loebs entirely controlled their own stories, or if there was a series bible they were following from someone else?

I think this is the first time we'd ever seen Catwoman as a vigilante from the start, almost Huntress-like in her ruthlessness but still more like Selina in spirit. The closest equivalent to this Catwoman that comes to mind is the Burton/Waters one from Batman Returns, which I've noticed is still the favorite for many.

So, is Selina acting out of self-interest for her new life, redemption for her past, vengeance against the people who dragged her into gang life as a youth, and/or is she trying to prevent more kids from ending up like she almost did? What I find most interesting is that she doesn't contradict or defend Panther's point that she's stealing the gang money to fund her shop and artwork. Is that greed, or is she at least somewhat justified?

And as a bonus, I found this cropped, low-res version of what the actual Sunday strip looked like in color, to give you some idea:

Huh. Vicki's brunette. And in black and white, I--for some reason--though the middle strip on Selina's mask would be green.

It's a rather abrupt ending, and right before the complete change in creative team. According to Mr. Collins himself, who so graciously offered up his insights when I posted this story to my Two-Face fanblog about_faces, he was actually strong-armed out of the gig by an editor who didn't think that Collins should be writing both Batman AND Dick Tracy. Collins wrote an entire series bible from the ground up, which was really followed by the next creative team. I would've loved to have read that saga which never was.

Coming up next, the new creative team of Messner-Loebs, Infantino, and Nyberg bring us the Penguin, Batman's mysterious new British sidekick, and a refreshingly different take on Harvey Dent, D.A. (how do you like THOSE credentials, Rex Morgan?).

Date: 2011-02-12 11:36 am (UTC)
sadoeuphemist: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sadoeuphemist
Batman's priorities seem kind of hosed up here. Catwoman mauls a couple of low-level gang members to death, he tells her to go scat and still kind of sympathizes with her. She finally takes out the big drug kingpin behind it all, and he's all "She's over the edge... has to be stopped --"

And I think he totally killed that one guy. Looking at the bullet's trajectory, I don't think it would've hit him at all!

Date: 2011-02-13 04:52 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
The implication, I think, is that he thought she was 'filling in' for him - that is, since he hadn't been much of a presence on the streets, she was doing his job. As such, he thought saying 'I'm back, the streets aren't big enough for the two of us, and I don't like your M.O anyway - beat it' would be enough to send her packing. Kind of a dumb mistake, but then he realizes this later, and feels guilty about it.
As for the trajectory of the bullet, that'd be difficult to prove. The angles change around quite a bit during the sequence, and we never really get a feeling as to just where Panther IS - or at least, I don't.

Date: 2011-02-12 11:57 am (UTC)
althechi: (batman)
From: [personal profile] althechi
Interesting stuff here. It is interesting seeing supposed 'precursors' to elements we'd see in B:TAS and BR.

Bruce is kind of vacillating whether he wants the television on or off in that first bit though. Alfred should've just passed him the remote if he was so fickle. =P

Date: 2011-02-12 03:38 pm (UTC)
sistermagpie: Classic magpie (Default)
From: [personal profile] sistermagpie
LOL! That's what I kept thinking. It seems Alfred *is* the remote.

Date: 2011-02-12 01:38 pm (UTC)
bewareofgeek: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bewareofgeek

At least initially, this looks like it was designed to bridge the first two movies. Hence the Joker as "former minion" and all that.

Date: 2011-02-12 11:33 pm (UTC)
janegray: (Default)
From: [personal profile] janegray
Thanks for posting this, it was very interesting :)

Date: 2011-02-13 12:30 am (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
Fascinating to see such a complete reworking of the Batman characters, thanks for posting.

Date: 2011-02-13 12:53 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] nemryn
I am greatly amused by 'psycho bimbo in kinky jammies'.

Date: 2011-02-14 01:20 am (UTC)
junipepper: (jumplines)
From: [personal profile] junipepper
It's a great line! I also love "somebody is icing Bull's babies..."

Date: 2011-02-13 03:20 am (UTC)
philippos42: zat's bunny (comedy)
From: [personal profile] philippos42
I've seen the Infantino ones, with a non-Two-Faced Harvey Dent in the regular cast, before; but not the Rogers ones.

Bit odd to see Marshall Rogers' signature next to a José Luis García-López Batman though. I guess the JLGL Bats is part of the title logo.

"He always said he owned the streets of Gotham. Now this one owns him."
Max Collins, bein' pulpy.

Date: 2011-02-13 05:05 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
Indeed, an interesting take on Harvey. It adds a dash of Arthur Reeves from back in the '70's - the man means well, but he's got more than a dash of spluttering bureaucrat in him. Presumably, this is where his antipathy towards the Bat truly starts - as a good guy, he resents him for flouting the rules, whereas as a bad guy, he'll resent him for stopping HIM from flouting them.
I can't say I'm wild about this take on Catwoman. It's not that I don't think she can work as a vigilante-type - hell, that's what she's doing now - but this version is just a tad too vicious for my tastes. I tend to think of Selina as having a slightly playful, flirting edge to her, even when she's playing hardball - this version of her is just too dark for me. (Also, that big 'CW' on her forehead is just dumb-looking.)
I DO like that she's wearing the classic slinky-dress costume, though. That costume gets far too little love.

Date: 2011-02-13 10:22 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
I'll be interested in seeing how it turns out.

Date: 2011-02-13 06:03 am (UTC)
hatman: HatMan, my alter ego and face on the 'net (Default)
From: [personal profile] hatman
Very cool read. Beautiful art, too. I'm sorry I missed out on the original. Thanks for posting it.

Date: 2011-02-13 08:49 am (UTC)
jlroberson: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jlroberson
Selina's mask is seven shades of ugh, but otherwise, Rogers is always a treat and Rogers Batman doubly so.

I know there's a certain amount of that overtly meant, but it appears Rogers in a strip context can't HELP but look 40s.

Date: 2011-02-13 04:18 pm (UTC)
meatwhichdreams: (Default)
From: [personal profile] meatwhichdreams
I LOVE Vicki's beat reporter get-up, complete with top-knot. :D It was such an unexpected change from her standard television-reporter look. You kind of get the feeling that she doesn't quite feel comfortable with that side of reporting - she'd rather be on the streets scooping.

Date: 2011-02-13 08:56 pm (UTC)
ext_406366: (Default)
From: [identity profile]
You didn't mention Max Collins' best comic: Ms. Tree.

Date: 2011-02-14 04:40 am (UTC)
ext_406366: (Default)
From: [identity profile]
Max Collins and Terry Beatty were the kings of crime genre comix in the late 80s - early 90s.

Date: 2011-02-13 09:44 pm (UTC)
halloweenjack: (Default)
From: [personal profile] halloweenjack
Thanks for bringing this. Rogers' art had something going on that no one else quite had, although it's difficult to say exactly what--part of it has to do with how his faces range from pretty realistic to sheer caricature. I'm also a big fan of his short but distinctive run on Doctor Strange; I think that he was the first artist to give Stephen a Fu Manchu mustache.


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