Friday, February 29, 2008

Batman and Captain America

From Time to time DC and Marvel get together and will combine their heroes. This book came out in 1996. I just read it a couple of weeks ago. I believe that after 12 years the statute of limitations on spoilers should be in effect, but if you don't want to know what happened quit reading now. Oh, great, I just chased everyone off. Well in case any one remained, here are my thoughts.

This book is written and drawn by John Byrne. It is set in 1945. Batman and Robin chase the Joker, who escapes from them. Over in Europe, Captain America is given orders to return to the United States. Basically Batman and Cap team up to fight the Joker and the Red Skull. The Red Skull is trying to steal the atomic bomb and tricks the Joker into helping him. For this review I am going to break it up into three parts, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

THE GOOD---There were several nice nods to comic book characters and creators. Captain America is fighting along side of Sgt. Rock, the star of a DC war comic. Chief O'Hara of the Batman TV series makes an appearance, and the names of comic book creators Sheldon Moldoff, Dick Sprang, Joe Simon, and Bill Finger are used on buildings and signs. One major name missing was Jack Kirby. Considering Kirby was a co-creator of Captain America, along with Joe Simon, I find his absence a glaring omission.
Of course we had the obligatory fight between Batman and Captain America, but as Bruce Wayne and Steve Rogers. Of course the fight was short and they quickly realized who the other was.
One scene made me laugh. The set-up, Batman and Cap traded partners. Batman and Bucky were captured and for dramatic effect were tied to a table that you will only find in comic books. The table is shaped like the letter H. It is in a shallow pit in the floor. Of course a bomb has been placed under the table, and Batman and Bucky escape before the bomb detonates. The best part of the scene however, is in front of the pit are the words 'stay back'.
When the Joker realizes the Red Skull has tricked him into helping the Nazi cause, the Joker turns on the Skull. He tells him, "I may be a criminal lunatic, but I am an American criminal lunatic".
The epilogue was a nice nod to Avengers 4 where Captain America was found encased in ice. Of course here he is found by Dick Grayson, the new Batman, and Bruce Wayne, Jr., the new Robin.

THE BAD---There were too many coincidences. I know in most fiction there are coincidences, but there were too many here.
The Joker killed some soldiers to get their uniforms. They were basically out in the middle of nowhere, waiting for a truck which was carrying the atomic bomb to go past them. There was absolutely no military strategy in placing them there. Not only that, they radioed ahead to find out when the truck would pass them. If they were positioned there, there would be no reason to find out where the truck was. I just consider this scene a bad plot device.
The "Gotham Project" had to be the worst kept secret in the world. Both Batman and the Red Skull knew about it.

THE UGLY---The ending. The Red Skull steals the atomic bomb and is going to drop it on Washington D.C. Batman and Captain America manage to get control of the plane and fly out over the Atlantic Ocean. The Red Skull and the Joker fight on top of the bomb, and it ends up falling out of the plane and it detonates. Why would a fully armed atomic bomb be taken by truck through Gotham City? I still don't understand how the bomb managed to drop. You are led to believe that the release mechanism had been broken. I can suspend belief with the best of them, but I can't suspend it here.
The bomb detonates over the Atlantic Ocean. This was before the war in Europe ended. What happened? How much was history changed? I just don't buy it.

Overall I felt this story started strong but faded at the finish. The art was excellent but my enjoyment simply decreased as I read on. On a scale of 1-5, 1 being poor, 5 being excellent, I give Batman and Captain America a 2.

Unless I acquire some more cards, this is the last of the Distinguished Heroes. The card reads: "Charles De Gaulle was a respected general, but he became legendary in France not for any battles he won, but as a symbol of defiance during the dark days of World War II. When France fell to the Nazis in 1940, De Gaulle went to England, where he formed the Free French movement. He was France's President in exile throughout the conflict, and took office with great acclaim after its liberation."

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