Monday, May 26, 2014

[Best of Batman] Prey by Doug Moench

Doug Moench’s PREY was a series of issues that touched upon the early relationship between Batman and the Gotham Police Department which was a struggle on both sides. Batman is a mask who operates above the law and the GPD are men of badges who see his act of vigilantism to be an insult to every value they uphold. There are two things I thoroughly enjoyed about this story. First is the way Jim Gordon (then-captain of the task force) perceives Batman, and though he is a man of honorable inclinations, he can compromise with the gray aspect of Batman’s deeds as a caped crusader. He’s always been a character whom I’ve felt understood Batman the most as Alfred is the one who understands Bruce Wayne the most.

The story is structured in a way that both Batman and Gordon have POVs (in distinct bubbles: gray with cursive letters and yellow with normal letters, respectively). I was able to appreciate them more as I read them speaking their thoughts for the readers’ benefit, and one can see that they have a strong amount of sympathy for each other which enabled them to develop a professional relationship and sometimes it includes an emotional investment neither them are prepared for, and that makes their dynamics so interesting to read as it unfolds.

The second thing I like is the way the police and the media responded to Batman as a symbol and how mostly of it is negative since these people of Gotham city still believe in absolutes when they live in a world that is bereft of such moral construct. To them, Batman goes against their way of life which they think is best defined by absolutes and that is of course something that Batman’s existence proves otherwise. It’s an engaging story because of this angle. As much as readers root for Batman, we can still understand why the police do not approve of him. Moench’s story also tried to deconstruct Batman as a superhero which is an effort I can appreciate. He ripped Bruce Wayne through his core and this was done through a villain I despise the most from the Batman universe: Dr. Hugo Strange. I hated every minute of his appearance and he’s not even that interesting. But the next comic book on my list once again features him as the villain so I will reserve my judgment until I get to that. But yeah, I still hate him.

PREY was grounded in pacing and execution. It was simplistic in scope but still manages to deepen the presentation of characters because of the storytelling itself, and the way Batman here is characterized psychologically is something I really found beguiling. But I never want to read anything with Hugo Strange again!


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