Now, this is very easy to dash off as a bad comic. The comic was written by no less than three separate writers. Which would seem like dreck, except they were Chuck Dixon, Alan Grant, and Doug Moench, the three writers on batman’s main books. It was also drawn [and painted] by Klaus Janson, the assistant to the superstar who wrote Spawn’s initial crossover with Batman, Frank Miller. Looking at the credits, it looked like a slapped together grope for teenager’s money. Better spend it on that than testosterone, I always say.

See, bat-books started being very well edited after Denny O’neil came on board and started reintroducing all the classic villains in the seventies, and it didn’t really stop being well edited, almost ever. There have certainly been missteps. [the trail after knightfall being an underrated story of coming to terms with natural selection that is, all told, probably fifty comics too long. Still, Robin and Nightwing grew so much as characters during that run as well as Bruce becoming more humble that I wouldn’t trade one shitty comic for a more streamlined past].

There have been more missteps, too, the first of which was the initial Batman/Spawn crossover. Frank Miller, the author, wrote on the inside flap that it was the “companion piece to Dark Knight Returns”. I guess Year One wasn’t? It is entirely possible that Frank Miller merely meant that because The Dark Knight Returns wasn’t in mainstream continuity, this was him writing the Batman of the same universe. Who also later stars in All-Star Batman, I’m guessing.

Anyway, the three current authors of Batman had all recently undergone the breaking of Batman’s back together, so they felt more than able to tackle a comic together. As a comic, it succeeds ably. As a short and seamless feature about the different strands influencing batman at the time, there is no more concise a document than I have ever come across.

Chuck Dixon wrote Batman as a little nicer than Frank Miller’s. He was fascist and violent, and did it for his family and the innocent people in Gotham. Alan Grant, also the author of many of Lobo’s and Judge Dredd’s formative adventures, wrote a Batman with a dark sense of humor almost as a reflex to the absurd and hellish world around him.

Around the same time, Doug Moench was using Batman as a way to meditate on the power of masks to change one’s behaviors. He also routinely invoked the spiritual world, having Batman stand as this noble crusader who often stood as a testament to humanity’s greatness. His run has some great guest appearances by The Spectre, Demon, and Deadman, among others.

Besides the authors who understand each other, and, more importantly, what makes their interpretations of Batman both distinct and similar about each other, Klaus Janson does not slouch on this comic.

If I had a scanner I could show more, but he does not shy away from inking up a page, rendering dust and blood and fire and zombies with a really distinctive grime. His figures are a little chunky and stylized, resembling Frank Miller’s exaggerations more than anything else as time went on, but this is really fresh superhero work, stretching a little bit beneath the mask to look at the different faces

Snap this up if you see it at half price books.