Thursday, January 8, 2015

Batman: The Jiro Kuwata Batmanga #24 Review (Spoilers)

Written by:  Jiro Kuwata
Art by: Jiro Kuwata
Cover Price: $1.99
Release Date: December 13, 2014

The Hangman of Terror - Chapter 1 of 4

As a long-time fan of professional wrestling I've taken the time to learn about the history of the sport both in America as well as in other countries. In American comic books wrestling has been used as a plot point on occasion--most notably in the origins of the amazing Spider-Man. In Japan, professional wrestling is less mocked and more respected, so seeing a Batmanga story that puts a professional wrestler in the spotlight warmed my heart quite a bit.

After dealing with the mess that was Clayface, Bruce Wayne and his young ward Dick Grayson decide to attend a wrestling match before their nightly patrol. While there they see an undefeated wrestler named The Hangman who no one in the crowd seems to enjoy. Despite Dick's curiosity to find out who is under the mask Bruce reminds him that they can't abandon their nightly patrols in favor of their own curiosities.

While out on their nightly patrol they are stopped by a young woman who wants Batman and Robin to go to a local jeweler and stop her brother from committing a crime--when they arrive on the scene they find the alarm blaring and none other than a fleeing Hangman.

What follows is a scene so un-Batman like that you can't help but love it. The Hangman flees from the Dynamic Duo to a nearby rooftop, where a second Hangman is waiting...who throws the feeling Hangman off the roof. They never confirmed if the Hangman was killed or not but the caption of "splat" isn't very reassuring.

As with all the other issues the story was both written and drawn by Jiro Kuwata, whose love for the character shows through. The wrestling scene in the book is particularly cool as Kuwata managed to catch the spirit of what a Japanese wrestling match would look like and even managed to create a cool looking audience.

At times I felt some of the throw away characters--specifically the referee--looked a little too much like major characters from recent previous issues, but that's something that's unavoidable in the world of Japanese anime and it's printed brethren, manga.

Bits & Pieces

Jiro Kuwata spent a lot of time writing over a thousand pages of Batman stories for his Batmanga and getting to see them released now is something special. Each issue sells for $1.99, a price I don't mind paying for 19 pages of digital material. This issue shows both Kuwata's love of Batman as well as his attention to detail, with the wrestling scenes looking particularly nice. This is another 4 part story and so far it's off to a pretty strong start that has left me excited to see what direction Kuwata will take things next.


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