Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Bat Lash

In the late 60s, DC was trying to take up as much space as possible so upstart Marvel couldn't do the same, so they began unleashing tons of new titles hoping they would take off. I don't think any of them did, but some did, at least, attain legendary status. The original Bat Lash, by Sergio Aragones, Denny O'Neil, and Nick Cardy was one such comic.
Originally conceived as a sort of Maverick knock-off, the strip took on it's own life and identity due to the tlc lavished upon it by its creators (including Editorial Director Carmine Infantino). The series didn't last long, but it is revered for its thoughtful characterization and superb art.

Recently, DC has had some success in bringing back their most successful western hero, Jonah Hex. Bat Lash has made a couple great guest-star appearances in that title, leaving those of us who are fans clamor
ing for more. Well, DC heard us, and I have to say that, while not as charming as the original series, they've published a very nice western comic! It didn't hurt to bring aboard co-creator/plotter Sergio Aragones, nor could they done much better than to have assigned the art chores to the magnificent John Severin. My only concern going in was scripter Peter Brandvold, a respected western novelist whose work I'd never read. My concern was based on recent disappointments from novelists taking a shot at comics but having to "put their stamp" on them (Jonathan Letham on Omega the Unknown, for example). Brandvold did a fine job, though. He didn't try to remake or revamp anything. His prose was taut and mostly realistic (though there was a lot of name-calling, especially the kind that casts aspersions on one's mother).

Other than the name calling complaint, I thoroughly enjoyed this mini-series. I suppose they could have called it "Bat Lash: Year One", since it fleshed out the character's origin, explaining why he's on the run. His love of poetry is still there, and I love the origin of the flower in his hat band. Now we need another mini-series showing us how he got to be the happy go-lucky, gambling scamp we know and love, 'cause there sure wasn't much to be happy go-lucky about in this story!

Better yet, keep this creative team together and give us an ongoing Bat Lash series, DC! If Dynamite can have the Lone Ranger, t
he Man With No Name, and Zorro, surely you can handle both Jonah Hex and Bat Lash!

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