Leaving A Lasting Legacy
Tripwire continues its 100 Graphic Novels You Should Read While Stuck Inside with its thirty-second choice, Tales Of The Batman: Steve Englehart by Steve Englehart, Marshall Rogers and others, reviewed by Tripwire editor-in-chief Joel Meadows…
Tales Of The Batman: Steve Englehart
Writer: Steve Englehart
Artists: Marshall Rogers & Terry Auston, Walter Simonson & Al Milgrom, Dusty Abell & Drew Geraci and various
Today’s choice is a hardcover devoted to the Batman work over the past six decades or so of Steve Englehart, a writer whose CV includes impressive runs on iconic characters for both DC and Marvel. This book begins with Night Of The Stalker drawn by Vin, Sal Amendola and Dick Giordano, a punchy one-off story that delves into Batman’s genesis and then moves onto a two part Doctor Phosporus story by Walter Simonson and Al Milgrom. Despite the fact that Milgrom is ill-suited to finish Simonson’s pencils, this is a fun romp which leads into the strongest run here.
Detective Comics 471 to 476 saw Englehart team up with artist Marshall Rogers, who interestingly came on board as its colourist on the previous story, and inker Terry Austin. Rogers and Austin brought an elegance and a sophistication to Batman and working in tandem with Englehart created a powerhouse creative team. We saw a new kind of Joker and the return of Deadshot, a very minor Batman villain. Englehart also gave us crooked Gotham mayor Boss Thorne and Bruce Wayne love interest Silver St Cloud. These six issues cast a huge shadow over many Batman stories to come and you can see their influence on future epics like Batman Year Two and even Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies.
We return to a solid but slightly unremarkable story that sees the return of Doctor Phosporus in an issue drawn by Irv Novick and Frank McLaughlin. Then we jump forward to the 1990s and a Riddler story drawn by Dusty Abell and Drew Geraci which shows that Englehart had lost none of his writing nouse over twenty years later. Abell and Geraci are a great art team too, offering clean lines and sharp storytelling to accompany Englehart’s clever script. Then there’s a Batman Chronicles one-off from 2000 which is helped by Javier Pulido’s art. We remain in 2000 with a two-part Joker story from Legends of the DC Universe, where we see the Dark knight Detective’s greatest adversary try to pull the wool over the eyes of Aquaman and Atlantis. Despite Trevor Von Eeden and Trevor Rubinstein’s accomplished art, this is perhaps the weakest link here as it feels like a very flimsy story.
The volume ends with Batman: Dark Detective, the six part miniseries that saw Englehart reunite with Rogers and Austin one more time in 2005 to tell one more Bruce Wayne – Silver St Cloud story. While it is nice to see the trio work together again, Rogers is not the artist he once was and so sadly there are a number of visual inconsistencies. There are still moments when he still shows the visual flourish he once had but they are rare. Having said this, it is still rather cool to see the band back together one more time and it rounds off the volume rather appropriately.
Along with Dennis O’Neill, Steve Englehart is one of the most memorable Batman voices of the past fifty years and Tales Of The Batman: Steve Englehart encapsulates this in a handsome hardcover.
Tales Of The Batman: Steve Englehart is available from DC
Here’s links to the other graphic novels reviewed so far