I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got one new comic plus a hard cover collection:

  • Ex Machina – 46
  • “The Goon: Fancy Pants Edition Volume 2
  • And now for a review of something I’ve read recently.

  • “Showcase Presents: Bat Lash”
  • This book reprints, in glorious black and white, a DC Comics series that I only know by reputation. As a matter of fact I only know it because of reading about it. It’s a western from 1968 which is years before my time. And before my friends’ time so it’s a comic the we have never really discussed and we’ve discussed a lot of comics. This is also the first time it’s being reprinted so that probably explains why I’ve never seen it.

    I’m happy to say that this comic lives up to it’s reputation. Especially the first five issues. It’s written by Denny O’Neil and Sergio Argonés with art by Nick Cardy. Argonés’ wild sense of humor and pacing is really apparent in these stories. I think that is the extra ingredient that makes them special.

    Bat Lash is a western gunfighter character who I think was modeled to an extent after James Garner’s “Maverick”. I’m not that familiar with the TV show but from what I know of it I can guess there is a resemblance. But I am sure that “Maverick” didn’t employ Argonés’ unique talents and that is what sets Bat Lash apart.

    Bat Lash is sort of a hippie cowboy who has a taste for culture and the good life and is not above doing some questionable things to get them. Hell, sometimes he just steals. He also chases the ladies around, quite successfully, and that also ends up getting into trouble. He doesn’t seem to care if the ladies are married or have boyfriends.

    Gunfights and dying (though sometimes he shoots guns out of people’s hands) follow Bat Lash around through the breakneck plots. He claims to be a non-violent man but always ends up being violent. That’s the main running gag. This comic reads like no other 1968 DC Comic that I know of.

    In the last two issues of the seven issue series the tone turns serious. We get the origin of Bat Lash and learn why he’s a definite outlaw (his outlaw status was a little murky before this) and get to see his darker more serious side. They are well done issues but didn’t have the liveliness of the first five comics.

    The volume is filled out by a couple of stories from 1978 and 1981 that are not by the original creative team. These are well done but don’t have the sparkle of Bat Lash one through five. They are worth a look though.

    The art throughout the book is top shelf. Nick Cardy did a masterful job on the first seven issues and Dan Spiegle nearly matched him with the last story. The middle story was by someone I have never heard of, George Moliterni, that was nonetheless also well drawn. It all looks good in black and white.

    Bat Lash is one of those characters who shined for a brief moment thanks to the creative team involved. He’s not an institution or a legend but has a handful of really good issues. Give them a read.