INTERVIEW: "Batgirl and the Birds of Prey" Hunt Rebirth's Oracle
Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. As it’s now December, I will be examining the LAST pages of random comics, so watch out for SPOILERS! Today’s page is from Legends of the Dark Knight #70, which was published by DC and is cover dated April 1995. Enjoy!
The second and final part of “Criminals,” from LotDK #69-70, ends with this dramatic page written by Steven Grant (who used to write very insightful columns for the Mothership) and drawn by Mike Zeck. It’s colored nicely by Digital Chameleon, and it’s lettered, as you probably can tell, by Willie Schubert. Oh, Willie Schubert – if my nightmares were lettered, they’d be lettered by you!
In this story, Batman infiltrates the prison (I guess it’s called Blackgate in this story, but I didn’t check issue #69 and it’s not mentioned in this issue) because a prisoner is somehow getting out to commit new crimes, and of course it turns out to be a whole ring with the warden calling the shots. Batman disguises himself as “Officer Stone” and figures shit out, because he’s the Batman! So now Zeck gets to draw a final splash page of Bats standing over the scene, feeling pretty fucking pleased with himself. Grant brings it home with some nice pulpy purple prose, as Bats thinks about Gordon’s world, which is one of “order and faith,” as opposed to his own, which is significantly bleaker. Grant does end with a nice summing-up: “In Gotham, the night has his face. Name the devil, in sound or silence, and the devil will answer. And the devil’s name is Batman.” Dum-dum-dummmmmmmm!!!!!
Zeck is a fine artist, and he designs the page well. The placement of the caption boxes lead us across the top of the page and then down the right side, as Batman forces us to read them that way. Batman provides a nice frame for the scene, and the final caption boxes are on “his side” – the dark side of the night, where the Batman rules. Zeck places the prison walls in opposition to Batman, creating a nice box for the scene on the ground but also showing the two forces that keep criminals in place – the walls and the Batman. Down on the ground, the police lead the prisoners out of Batman’s shadow – notice his cape obscures some of them – to the paddy wagon, which represents Gordon’s world of law and order. The lights on the police vans simply amplify this feeling – Batman always remains in the shadow, while Gordon tries to bring light to the world of the criminals. Zeck draws a nice Batman on this page – we can’t see his face, but his body is full of coiled violence, as if he’s holding himself back from leaping down and kicking even more ass than he already has. Nobody stands that way, with the cape bunched in clenched fists, if they’re relaxed. Batman can never relax. NEVER!
It’s always nice to get a well-designed page to end a story. This is good and dramatic, and both Grant and Zeck do a fine job creating a mood of triumph but also bitterness. Batman wins, but he can never win. Sucks to be him!
Next: It’s been quite a while since we saw this barbarian, but he’s back! Find his first appearance this year in the archives!
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