It's the year of Our Lord, Nineteen Seventy Something.
I'm in Lytham St Annes - and I don't even play golf.
What I do do is read comics. And Lytham comes up with the goods as, while there, I get an issue of The Many Ghosts of Dr Graves guest-starring Stonehenge, and the very first issue of Man-Bat guest-starring Batman. Stonehenge is good. Batman is good. Batman and Stonehenge should have a fight someday to see which is best.
Man-Bat may not be so good. He goes, "Skreek!" a lot, has an annoying wife who always seems to be getting possessed, and never has the sense to ask for help from those who could give it.
What I like about Man-Bat #1. Steve Ditko draws it. He draws it with an elegant simplicity that seems fifteen years past its time but can still get by on charm and our fond memories of his work on Spider-Man. He draws Batman without a face, permanently obscured as it is in shadow. He draws a sorcerer who does things with his fingers, as only a Steve Ditko sorcerer can.
What I don't like about it. Apart from Jim Aparo's not quite right cover, nothing much. It's a perfectly pleasant tale.
But the world of Man-Bat seems too insular, composed purely of himself, his wife and Batman.
Baron Mordo seems to have been imported from an old issue of Dr Strange to pester and bemuse our hero. Renamed as Baron Tyme, he makes Mrs Man-Bat kill people.
Still, after winning a scrap with Batman, our hero goes on to triumph by setting Baron Tyme's lair on fire and leaving him to the not-so-tender mercies of the dark forces he once sought to control.
Man-Bat is triumphant.
But only for a while.
For, Man-Bat is destined to only return for one more issue before his comic folds even faster than his wings.
I'm in Lytham St Annes. I have no way of knowing Man-Bat will meet this fate but, somehow, as I sit on a bench reading it, I instinctively know he will.
Keep Those Things Away From Me - Novel
1 year ago