Sunday, March 20, 2005

Under The Radar: Batman: The Scottish Connection

Okay, from time to time I may review a comic that may have been overlooked by the mainstream (thus the title of this post).

Today, it will be my recent eBay win: Batman: The Scottish Connection!

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Actually, I may have a little more insight on this book than most. I saw Alan Grant give a talk at the writer's festival here in Glasgow where he talked mainly about this book. What was said was that, in the past, when heroes would come to Scotland (Nick Fury and Spiderman were two examples) it was perceived as an exotic locale populated by monsters and kilt-wearing villans...

While kilt-wearing villains appear in this book, Grant went one farther and gave Bruce Wayne (that's Batman you know?) a Scottish heritage. Thus, the winged rodent has a reason to be there and a connection to its people.

The villain, Fergus Slith, has a purpose similar to Batman: revenging his family. Although, like many mirrored-origin Batman villains (Deadshot comes to mind) violence is being used which seperates the two character's intentions.

The art is fantastic. Mr. Quitely's pencils are wonderful and crisp compared to how it appeared in some New X-Men issues. I found that it would occasionally get dark for no reason. But here, it's bright and displays excellent talent. Very reminiscent of the All-Star Superman preview art.

The writing. I love Alan Grant but here he does little to make this a Batman story as opposed to a hero in Scotland story. The closest he gets is the mirroring of the villain's origin. The connection to the locales (Rosslyn Chapel years before DaVinci Code brought it fame) makes it interesting. The dialogue is where the writing prevails here. Alfred is written wonderfully and I tend to think if Alfred is written properly then it's a good Batman story. Flawed logic, maybe, but it works for me.

Overall: Excellent art + great writing + Alfred = recipe for good stuff. Get it if you can.

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