Panels From Beyond the Grave #6

BAT-THING (#1, June 1997)

In 1996, DC and Marvel collaborated on a series of one-shot titles under the banner of Amalgam Comics. Popular superheroes from both universes were joined at the hip to create new characters. For example, Batman was fused with Wolverine to beget Dark Claw. Flash and Ghost Rider coalesced to breathe life into the generic, yet amusing Speed Demon. Finally, Man-Bat and Man-Thing collided to hatch Bat-Thing, the subject of this very review. I'm not terribly familiar with DC's Man-Bat, but I've always been a fan of Marvel's Man-Thing. I appreciate him as a pensive, erratic alternative to Swamp Thing.

It's a shame that this was a stand-alone comic. Out of all of the Amalgam amalgamations, Bat-Thing had the most potential to become a successful series. We are only given a teaspoon of exposition. Members of the mob are turning up dead in the foul streets of Gotham City. The heavies seem to be targeting Francie Sallis, the "widow" of Dr. Kirk Sallis. Kirk was a scientist who dabbled in genetic splicing. After experimenting on himself one too many times, he mutated into a bat...thing. Has he returned to harm his family or to protect them? I'll never tell!

The creature design is swell. It has a pulpy vibe to it, and there are several scenes that would have been right at home in a drive-in flick from the 50's (the dream sequence is wicked). I love the pale, spectral color palette. The moody atmosphere is accentuated by purples and greens that snag your collar and pull you into the Gotham haze. I realize that I have yet to write a negative piece for this column, but I can't help it. It's not my fault that Bat-Thing is a cool motherfucker. Likewise, it's not my fault that this is a sleek, tight debut that should have led to a string of issues where our nocturnal knight in clammy armor crossed paths with the finest villains that Gotham City has to offer.

Now, I had to chip half of a Savage Dragon off of the rating, but it wasn't easy. The dialogue is forced, and the script avails itself of every mob cliche in the known world. Be that as it may, this is a good place to start if you're thinking about raiding the Amalgam library. I'm going to conclude this review with a couple of random thoughts. A) Man-Thing (the movie) is mediocre. The last ten minutes rock, but the first eighty? Cripes, the SyFy Channel is an affront to humanity. 2) I need to revisit Swamp Thing (the movie). If I ever get my VCR up and running, that will be the first tape I watch. It's still shrinkwrapped!

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