Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Collect This! Batman: The Lazarus Affair 3


The 100-Page Super Spectacular returns with the penultimate chapter in "The Lazarus Affair," Batman 334. This chapter runs a short 17 pages, with the final pages taken up by a one-page murder mystery solved by Commissioner Gordon (written by Bob Rozakis) and a Jason Bard backup by Mike W. Barr and Dan Spiegle.

The issue opens with Batman, having been gassed in Hong Kong as Bruce Wayne, waking up on Infinity Island in his Batman costume. Batman's captor shows him various scenes of life on the island, with toga-garbed elite living an idyllic life on the surface, and shirtless slaves working the mines below: a class division reminiscent of Fritz Lang's Metropolis.

Meanwhile, Catwoman and Robin, in disguise, have been taken prisoner in Hong Kong and are about to be injected with overdoses of opium.

It appears from that sequence of panels that Catwoman was wearing a Selina Kyle disguise over her Catwoman costume, which makes no sense. (If that third panel were taken out of context, it would appear that she's holding up Selina Kyle's head.) Also, it's unclear how they got out of their disguises and into their costumes so quickly. Catwoman and Robin soon round up King Faraday and head off to Infinity Island. However, they are captured along the way by the red, Rover-like retrievers.

The trio are quickly put to work in the mines.

I have a new appreciation for the practicality of Robin's costume here. Sure, the short pants are goofy, but when you're forced to perform slave labor in a mine, you want to be comfortable. Catwoman's high-heeled boots and King Faraday's trenchcoat certainly aren't helping them.

Batman gets to see all this on a tv monitor, and his captor gives him a choice between life on the surface or in the mines, and he, naturally, chooses the mines. He's not there long, however, because it turns out this is the easiest slave camp to escape from.

Talia also assists in the escape, but as is common in these stories, she is faced with a choice, as her premature aging conveniently kicks in.

I wonder what Catwoman's basis for comparison is here. Talia looks "almost fifty" only if we're talking about someone who spent every day coated in butter, laying out in the sun and smoking unfiltered Camels.

One of the biggest flaws of this storyline is that it tries to build suspense as to the identity of the villain. It's difficult to imagine a reader not being able to connect the dots here: Talia, the international settings, a story called "The Lazarus Affair"--it all seems pretty obvious.

Yet, what's even more befuddling is that the heroes didn't figure it out, either, as we see in the issue's shocking ending:


Next: The Explosive Conclusion!

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