March 29, 2010

How The West Was Fun

...or, the only Bat-related book Denny O'Neil helped write that didn't involve Gotham City

 Every once in awhile, I'll come across a book that I'll buy just to check it out, or at the very least, to take a risk and see if a black-and-white reprint of comics from the "good old days" really is that good. The last time I did so and got something for a relatively low price...well, the results were mixed. So I approached the Showcase collection of Bat Lash with mixed feelings.

And I am loving this book to death. It's probably one of my favorite reprints so far...and it's priced so low (for a relatively thin book), it's well within reach of your pocketbooks.

Yes, it gets compared favorably to Maverick, but unless you're a guy who watched way too much tv as a child (like, er, me), or of a certain age (like, er, people who are older than me), here's a much better description - think Brisco County, Jr with a Farscape-like wit and humor. (It's no wonder Ben Browder voiced the character on the animated Justice League series).

Thankfully, much of it is due to the influence of Sergio Aragones, who visually plotted the majority of stories with Denny O'Neil as scripter and Nick Cardy providing some striking art that works well in a black-and-white format. (Unfortunately, O'Neil's scripts can veer a little towards the cliche and slightly off-putting; this was the late 1960s, after all, so it may jar to a modern reader). A three-part Len Wein backup takes the character in a slightly different direction.

The tagline for the series was, "Will he save the west...or ruin it?" This isn't a book that rocked the comics world on its edge, or even seemed particularly groundbreaking...and to my understanding, it is not even a "complete" Showcase (several backups were omitted). However, for a pretty decent comic read - and a solid Western comic - it's worth it.

Especially if you forgo some of the event comics by the big-two. Reading some done-in-one stories will do you some good.

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