Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham by Mignola Pace Nixey Janke Stewart

Everything can be turned into a Batman story. Everything can be turned into a Lovecraftian story. [1]

And that circle can be squared, as witness Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham. It is almost exactly what you would expect: a Bruce Wayne who was orphaned in an attack by a screaming madman in the earliest days of the 20th century grew up around the world, exploring and doing scientific things, and has gathered a small group of younger men to aid him (Dick, Tim, Jason, of course) is in Antarctica to investigate the lost "Cobblepot Expedition," and what they find sends him back to Gotham City for the first time in two decades and a shattering confrontation with both his family's past and extra-dimensional monsters.

It's not as crammed with Batman Family cameos as it could be, though there are plenty -- Gordon is here briefly, of course, and "Cobblepot" is seen at the beginning, a young-looking woman named Talia is a major antagonist, and a certain former DA has a minor role, but that's most of it. Unlike some Elseworlds-style stories, Doom That Came to Gotham is not an excuse to ring changes on every bit of Batman mythology the writers can think of. (Jack Kirby's rhymer makes a major appearance, but he serves as the Hellboy figure: the one who can stand up and punch absolutely anything in this universe until he wins.)

This was co-written by Mike Mignola (comics' leading Lovecraftian for the past couple of decades) with Richard Pace, who originally planned to draw the thing. It turned out just fine drawn by Troy Nixey with ink by Dennis Janke, and, as usual, Dave Stewart does a great job of coloring a Mignola project.

It does pretty much the same thing as every other Elseworlds story: takes standard Batman furniture, re-arranges it slightly, and then stands back to exclaim about how clever it is. It is reasonably clever, but in the context of several dozen other Elseworlds stories, that's not as impressive. I'm glad that this exists, but I'm also glad that the moment for Batman-as-Randolph-Carter (or Batman-as-pirate, or Batman-as-Crusader, or Batman-as-Shogun, or whatever other odd permutations you can think up) has ended.

[1] "Can be" is perhaps not strong enough. "Will be" is more like it.

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