Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Review - Showcase Presents Bat Lash Vol.1 TPB


This book collects Showcase #76 and Bat Lash issues 1-7 from 1968 / 1969, DC Special Series #16 from 1978 and a few short Bat Lash strips that originally appeared as back-ups in Jonah Hex in 1981. The majority of the stories here are co-written by Sergio Aragon├ęs and Dennis O’Neil and drawn by Nick Cardy, but the shorter strips from Jonah Hex are written by Len Wein and drawn by Dan Spiegle, while DC Special Series #16 is drawn by George Moliterni.

Bat Lash is basically a hippie cowboy who stumbles from town to town, with a flower in his hat, claiming to deplore violence but killing a hell of a lot of people anyway. At one point he thinks to himself: ‘I hate violence! I hate it so bad... I feel like killin’ anyone who pushes me to it!’ Up until around Bat lash #5, the emphasis is on slapstick humour and these comics are a lot of fun. However, for the last couple of issues of the series proper, humour takes a back seat and we get a rather dull tale about Bat Lash avenging the death of his family – the sort of thing you’ve seen in dozens of westerns before. Thankfully, the more mischievous side of the character is on display again in later strips but without Aragon├ęs these stories aren’t quite as entertaining as earlier stories.

The art here is great throughout. Nick Cardy was a fantastic artist and I was particularly impressed by the Alex Toth-like art of George Moliterni, who I had never heard of before, on DC Special Series #16. I found myself wondering if Moliterni was an alias for a better known artist, but can’t find any evidence to support this theory. He seems to have drawn a few issues of Weird Western Tales, too, and I’m looking forward to reading some of them in Showcase Presents Jonah Hex Vol.1.

This is much thinner than most other DC Showcase books, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I often find that these Showcase books, like Marvel’s Essential books, are a bit too long and outlive their welcome long before they end. The length of this book, though, was about right and I enjoyed reading it. Showcase #76 and Batlash 1-5, at least, are well worth reading and there isn’t a bad page of art in the whole book. It is inexpensive, too. I got my copy from Amazon for a mere £4.96 (now £5.68, which still isn’t bad) including postage, which I don’t regret spending at all. This one’s a keeper!

3 comments:

  1. Well with an opening quick thank you to Paul Rainey for pointing me in the direction of this great blog after following him over at 2000ad Prog Slog for years I'll jump on board with a hell yes!

    The 'Batlash' issues in this volume of Showcase presents are some of the finest Western comics available, damn it some of the finest comics full stop. Nick Cardy's art is an absolute treat and Batlash is just a fantastic western character. Just wish these slimmer Showcases had caught on a little more as that way I might have got the Angel and the Ape reprint I'm still dreaming of.

    Still to echo what's said here at just over a fiver this is one of the best value collections out there in my eyes

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