This here was a library borrow on impulse. It’s a brand new release and I like Batman’s villains more than I like him so I thought this Man-Bat trade would be a good one. This just unfortunately did not live up to what I expected and was just a bad collection. For those who don’t know: Man-Bat is Kirk Langstrom, a scientist who injected himself with some bat DNA to cure his hearing but it had the side effect of turning him into a bat monster.
It begins in Showcase ’94 #11 but this is more of a prequel to the next three issues with the same creative team so I’ll talk about them together. The Showcase story is very short and light on plot; some guys hunt down Man-Bat out in a jungle and then he escapes back into Gotham to find Francine. At this point the character is more monster than man so all he can say is his wife’s name. The next series is Man-Bat Vol 2. #1-3 which continues in Gotham where a string of murders are committed by a flying man. Of course Man-Bat is the suspect but he’s just trying to find Francine. It’s only a three issue story and there’s not a lot happening but this still felt like a long read. This can be contributed by the completely terrible art. I don’t know what the artist was doing but everything just looks wet, like every character is going to melt away. For no reason at all in the final fight with this boring mystery villain, Francine’s clothes get ripped away for cheap fanservice but it doesn’t even look good because of the terrible art style. There’s only one good thing I can say about this part of the comic and that’s the Killer Croc moment. It’s a short scene but it shows a different side of that character where he actually cares for Man-Bat because “freaks stick together.”
After all of that we get into Man-Bat vol 3. #1-5 which is a lot better in the art department, but has its own problems in the writing and story. This story begins as well with a string of mystery killings straight out of a 90s horror movie (Teenagers messing around, nosey cops.) Here Kirk Langstrom is actually seen outside of being Man-Bat for most of this. He starts to have blackouts and when his own family is seemingly murdered he believes he was the cause. Batman, who hangs out in the Batcave completely out of costume for some reason, takes him in to try and help him. Then the story gets very confusing as after we’re introduced to our first two villains another one joins the story. There’s too much going on there and then we get to the climactic fight where Batman fights Man-Bat until they reach the true villain behind this. He has them both beaten and then in an ending that makes zero sense to me, lead powers up Man-Bat to take the guy down. Lead is mentioned to have been something Kirk used to try and keep Man-Bat away in the very last issue so it comes across as just pulled out of nowhere and I still don’t know the logic behind lead being a power up. So the art by Mike Huddleston is actually very good in this section and the horror elements at the start may have been cliché but it was interesting at least. This just doesn’t save the rest of the book however.
Writers: Chuck Dixon and Bruce Jones
Artists: Flint Henry and Mike Huddleston