Batman Confidential, Vol. 3: The Wrathby Published 29 Dec 2009
|Batman Confidential, Vol. 3: The Wrath.pdf|
Two stories, 25 years apart. The first involves Batman and the "other". Written by Mike Barr, and illustrated by Michael Golden. The second story, told in four parts, involves Batman, Nightwing, and possibly the return of the Wrath. This time written by Tony Bedard and illustrated by Rags Morales.
Batman and the Wrath have two things in common. The date of their parents deaths, and the cut of their costumes. Otherwise, one fights criminals, and the other is a criminal.
Batman and Nightwing become embroiled in the return of a major nemesis who was long believed to be dead: The Wrath has returned, and he knows too much about Batman -- and the deaths of his parents.
Batman Confidential, Vol. 3: The Wrath Reviews
Two parents are shot on the streets of Gotham one night, leaving their son an orphan. That son grew up to be… The Wrath?!
Right: first? I’ma eat some crow! Ever since Year Two: Fear the Reaper I’ve called Mike Barr one of the worst Batman writers ever. Tony Bedard never wrote anything as heinous but he’s never impressed me either. So I’m glad that I occasionally give these bad writers a chance to redeem themselves because, credit where credit’s due, Batman: The Wrath positively stunned me with how good it was!
The book starts with Batman Special #1 by Michael Golden and Mike DeCarlo from 1984. Usually I hate reading ‘80s Batman comics as they’re almost always bad but this story, The Player on the Other Side, surprised me by being entertaining and interesting; it’s also essential in understanding Barr/Bedard’s succeeding comic.
It follows a gun-toting Batman wannabe in a purple outfit calling himself The Wrath (now I see where Mark Millar got his inspiration for Nemesis - I knew he couldn’t think originally!) who blames Jim Gordon for his parents’ deaths and is out to assassinate the Commish. It’s a silly comic, even by ‘80s Batman standards. The Wrath’s origins are sketchy at best, the dialogue is very stilted and Grayle, the mob daughter and forced love interest for The Wrath, is a joke – and yet it was readable and compelling.
Then we’re into modern day Batman and the bulk of the book with Barr/Bedard’s Wrath Child. A new Wrath is in town and determined to finish his predecessor’s job - but who is he? Wrath’s origin is explained far more clearly this time around and the cat and mouse story is even more exciting as the writers push the new Wrath further. He remains an intimidating enemy whose dark past makes him compelling as an alternate Batman. He’s also a genuine challenge to both Batman and disco-era Nightwing (this book is part of the Batman Confidential series which was set in past Batman continuity).
Barr/Bedard build on 1984’s The Player on the Other Side, developing a richer story using that history to draw closer parallels to Batman and Robin’s lives. There’s also an awesome chase sequence with the Batmobile and Wrath’s Mad Max-esque car. The only real flaw is that they spend so much time on that scene that the final battle between Batman and Robin and Wrath is extremely abrupt and wrapped up in a single page! Well, that and Rags Morales gives Gordon an unforgivably naff bowl haircut!
Maybe I liked this more because my expectations were rock bottom going in but I was still pleasantly surprised to find The Wrath to be a very enjoyable read. I’d recommend it to any Batman fan and I’m glad I challenged my beliefs on Mike Barr and Tony Bedard because otherwise I’d’ve missed out on a great Batman book!
For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. In the case of this Batman volume, that opposite reaction is dubbed the Wrath. The orphaned son of a pair of criminals, an unnamed child dedicated his life to the destruction of law enforcement. With an origin story that syncs up perfectly to Bruce Wayne's tragic night - to the very day - the Wrath spent his debut targeting Jim Gordon and eventually meeting a fateful end. Yet the identity was resurrected by Elliot Cadwell, who had been groomed in much the same way that Batman prepared Robin. Acting as a dark reflection of the Dynamic Duo, the Wrath was to represent the polar opposite of the Batman. Despite presenting a unique perspective, the forced origin of the original Wrath proved difficult to swallow. The career of the second version does allow the possibility of a more realistic take on the violent assassin, yet falls flat in characterization. The only wrath felt here is that of a comic reader seeking a better Batman story.
I love the old Batman comics. Don't get me wrong, I really love the New 52 Scott Snyder Batman, but there is something so charming and sweet about the early Batman stuff. I don't know what it is, maybe he was more human? Had more emotion? More empathy? He showed surprise and regret. Something.
There's a 24 year gap between The Wrath and The Wrath Child, the two stories that encompass this book. Which is good because at the end of The Wrath you don't have any idea why he was after Jim or killing cops or who he was. The Wrath Child wraps everything up for us and brings some closure to the story arc while also giving Robin/Nightwing a part in the story that he didn't have before.
A quick, but satisfying read.
Imagine my embarrassed surprise when I
1) Chose this because I thought it was Huntress on the cover and later realized it was actually "The Wrath";
2) Realized, upon coming here to review, that I had actually read this before - and reviewed it. Here is what I said the first time:
Nice backstory, and awesome villains. Well-done!
I agree with myself. The villain, Wrath, also lost his parents the same night as Bruce Wayne, but they were criminals. And he vowed the same kind of revenge, and underwent training as extensive. Great premise! Awesome Villains!
At least I'm consistent.
Now to search for a bonafide Huntress comic...
The cheesy 80s story was a little painful, mostly because the detecting was painfully easy and the characters didn't know things they should. A map with the area circled? Does anyone actually do that? And would Batman be so dumb as to show up in costume every year at the site of his parents' death? Why didn't anyone else figure out who he was! And why didn't Leslie know who he was AND WHY DIDN'T ALFRED KNOW WHY BRUCE WENT TO THAT SITE?!! I am only a casual Batman fan and I know better than the writers of the first story? That seems unlikely, so probably I know things that were established later and were used as canon after 1984. Though it's possible there was just terrible editing, comics didn't expect people to want a continuing coherent story. The art seemed very good for the time. Comics have different sensibilities now but I enjoyed the drawings. The story itself had potential but it was just so corny with the player on the otherside. I guess I just don't see Batman feeling so connected to the guy.
The second part of the book is more modern and I enjoyed it more, mostly for Nightwing. I liked that it tried to fill in some of the holes left in the first series, though it made some holes of its own (how's an orphaned preteen boy continue his vigilante training to reach Batman levels?). I'm torn on whether or not I like the art. I think it's good but I don't always like its style. They managed to make Nightwing's costume not totally cringe-worthy which is generally how I feel about his first costume.