Friday, October 16, 2015

Bat-Mite #5 Review and *SPOILERS*

Bat-Mite, But He Doesn’t

Written By: Dan Jurgens
Art By: Corin Howell, Mike Atiyeh, Tom Napolitano
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: October 14, 2015

*Non-Spoilers and Score At The Bottom*

Have you noticed that the comic books Eric doesn’t want to review are the ones that have the most potential to bring joy to children? I’m not saying there’s a definite connection, but it sure seems to me like the laughter of innocent young boys and girls makes Eric’s blackened heart wither and pierces his dark soul with a painful, cleansing light. Bat-Mite is a silly comic, a goof, an irreverent romp through the DCU where the Dark Mite is jazzing up its lesser-known properties. It’s been a decent laugh so far, but how does the comic fare when Bat-Mite teams up with completely forgotten novelty crusaders the Inferior Five? I’m not sure, but I’d bet you can read on to find out!

Explain It!:

This issue throws us right into the action, with Bat-Mite having already teamed up with the Inferior Five to fight the minions of the evil pop culture nerd Gridlock. You know who the Inferior Five are, don’t you? Why, of course you do! You’re a qualified expert having read my review of the New Inferior Five #7 a few weeks ago, right? RIGHT? You dirty rats. Well just for those who may have glossed over that supremely informative piece of journalism, the Inferior Five are a band of misfit bumblers—five, in total—who pay homage to their super-powered lineage by fighting crime and fail miserably at doing so. Though the comic does a good job of introducing us to the members of the team, I really have to wonder why these guys were dragged out of mothballs in the penultimate issue of this limited series. I mean, I don’t think you could get five-hundred people in a room that even remember who the Inferior Five were, much less anyone that gives a shit about them. And in modern comics, they seem anachronistic—a Caucasian archer named “White Feather?” A woman dressed in a parody of the Playboy bunny costume? And a bunch of characters that seem like rip-offs of DC Comics’ own properties? What the hell is happening here, and why? Not just why is it happening, but why am I reading it?

Bat-Mite watches the merry band of numbskulls display their skills, or lack thereof. Turns out they’ve got a common enemy in the hoarding supervillain Gridlock, except the Inferior Five, and Myron “Merryman” Victor specifically, are after a lost pilot to the show Galaxy Trek. The Imp Crusader agrees to pursue this common goal, but first decides to change them into the more formidable and foreboding SUPERIOR SIX! They all get variations or complete reversals of their existing powers and name changes. Now I ask you: what is the point of changing their names? I’d think a majority of the people reading this issue wouldn’t know the names of the Inferior Five to begin with, certainly not enough to pipe up about the fact that Dumb Bunny’s name has been changed to Tough Bunny (and yes, I know why it was done, though her ditzy disposition belies the fact that she’s still intended as a bimbo.) Why confuse things by giving them a bunch of new names? There’s only a certain number of pages in the comic, it’s not like you’ve got to pad them out or anything and…oh, you did have to pad them out.

From here on, there’s not much more to say. A fairly awesome giant robot that fled the scene earlier in the book gets his servos crunched by a now confident and significantly more sadistic team. Gridlock makes off at the end by tossing what appears to be the lost pilot episode into a fire, but Bat-Mite saves it only to find that the case is empty—and Gridlock has made his escape! Tough Bunny appeals to the Dark Mite to return her fellas back to their original dopey state, because they are too cruel and arrogant for her liking. So Bat-Mite zaps them all back to the Friend Zone and all is well, except for an epilogue which you’ll have to read yourself because I can be withholding like that.

I really like Corin Howell’s art in this series, I think it works perfectly for the tone of the book and Bat-Mite’s super-cartoonish look has really grown on me. Indeed, I think this whole thing might play better as a cartoon, where we could see the action happening and hear Bat-Mite’s different voices instead of reading them as set in different fonts. There’s a fundamental problem with this humor comic, and that’s that it isn’t very funny. There are jokes and gags, but they’re either out of sync or somehow deficient in whatever properties jokes normally have that make me chuckle. I think this could play well to younger readers, but they have less contextual understanding about the existence of the Inferior Five than I do. In all, not a horrible comic book, but not one I would necessarily cross the street to get, either.

Bits and Pieces:

This is really a comic you can take or leave, depending on how you feel like spending your three bucks. You can feel free to pick up this issue or any issue of Bat-Mite at random because they more or less tread the same bland territory, with some nice artwork and a couple of smirk-worthy gags. There is a story developing behind all of the hijinx, but so little space is given to these events and they seem so immediately inconsequential that I didn’t even mention it in my review. I wouldn’t call this comic a must-read, but if you were stranded on a desert island with only this issue of Bat-Mite, things could be worse.


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