Sorry I wasn’t around last week…I took the week off in order to save up enough money to buy this week’s TOP TWO NOT TO BE MISSED HITS!
In 1988, a few years after they published The Dark Knight Returns and a year after Watchmen, DC released another grim and gritty comic steeped in the flavor of the times called Batman The Cult. Penned by Jim Starlin (who had garnered attention at Marvel through his work on Adam Warlock and Captain Marvel) and drawn by the legendary Bernie Wrightson, Batman The Cult also featured Bill Wray (creator of Hellboy Jr. and notorious Ren & Stimpy background artist) on colors.
Batman The Cult almost reads as an Elseworlds story, as it is based on a premise slightly unsavory to Batfans: What if a foe psychologically broke Bats? This theme of ultimate defeat reappears from time to time, most notable in Knightfall and Batman R.I.P., though The Cult tells it tough and stark.
Batman is kidnapped, starved, beaten, drugged and abused to the point where his brain gets woozy enough to break. This torture is administrated at the hands of a mystic in the guise of a slum preacher named Deacon BlackFire. Blackfire then uses Batman as a killing machine against his enemies…yes Batman kills. With Guns, TOO!
In this story Batman uses guns (loaded with both bullets and tranquilizers), drives a monster truck version of the Batmobile, and features Jason Todd in one of his best pre-death appearances. Does Batman save the day and overcome all obstacles? Not without scars, he doesn’t!
The Cult is…an interesting story. Batman is after all a man. Men do fail. Batmen must also Bat-Fail. The Cult is a well rounded look at Batman’s mental frailty, far subtler than Arkham Asylum and WAY subtler than Batman R.I.P.
Curious? Check it out. But not this week. THIS was all a preamble for this week’s recommendation:
Batman: No Man’s Land Vol. 1, Various (W/A), DC
While not as ambitious or artistic as The Cult, Batman No Man’s Land instead offers the kick-ass, take names Bat-book we all like to read. If Batman vs a lawless wasteland of thugs, crooks, and civil unrest interests, pick up this little gem. It sure ain’t nuanced, and sometimes that’s OK!
ONE OF THE BEST
Meanwhile, one of Marvel’s best-kept secrets is about to get the deluxe omnibus treatment. YES, I’m recommending another telephone sized cash guzzler. If’n the piggy bank is light this week then pick up Defenders #1 from Marvel! A new Team, a new Title, a new #1! Silver Surfer + She-Hulk = Wacky Hi-jinx Unlimited. Anyway:
Superheroes are like underwear…you need to change them every once in a while to ensure freshness! NO TEAM embodies this concept better than the late era X-Force, A.K.A. the X-Statix.
The X-Statix are a mutant reality show with high action and high death toll. There isn’t an aspect of celebrity life, ultra-violence, and commodity culture that isn’t spoofed up, nailed to the wall, and lovingly pissed in the face by this book…and this Omnibus collects it all! From Princess Diana’s resurrection, to Doop; the super cute, super enigmatic, and super marketable Mutant plush doll, to the never-ending casualty list that is the team roster; X-Statix is the atomic sour ball of Marvel X-Books!
Collected here is every dang X-Statix appearance and comic ever, INCLUDING the phenomenal and overlooked Deadgirl miniseries. You knew Deadgirl and Dr. Strange had a fling, right? Read on, faithful reader!
Next Week: How to boil a Cat while it’s still inside your stomach! Excelsior!
More musings from Unkiedev, Earth’s own sidekick, can be read at unkiedev.blogspot.com