I’m a huge Batman fan. I wear Batman clothes, talk about Batman with my girlfriend (she nods and pretends to care), I even make YouTube videos about Batman. That said, I am often disappointed with some of the Batman comics I read. Many times the stories are reworkings of old stories, with no real plot or just plain boring.
The number 400, however, had none of these flaws. It was a great read from start to finish. Stephen King’s special introduction, surprisingly, was also good. I say “surprisingly” not because of a lack of confidence in Stephen King’s writing skills, but rather because I normally hate introductions, even more so if they are dubbed “special”.
I read the entire issue and enjoyed every moment. OK, to be honest, there have been a few times where I wish Jason Todd would fall dead, but other than that it was a great story.
I briefly summarize the plot:
All of Gotham City’s major (and some of the minor) cheaters have come out of jail and Arkham Asylum. Nobody knows who the mastermind behind the escape is, not even the freed prisoners.
It turns out to be Ras Al Ghul and offers to help Batman catch and kill all the thieves if Batman agrees to be his partner and help him rule the world.
Batman says “No” and the battle lines are drawn. They are the Caped Crusader, Robin, Catwoman and Talia versus pretty much everyone else.
Joker, Penguin, Poison Ivy, Killer Croc and the Mad Hatter play the biggest role in the story, with a few other villains sprinkled to add flavor. For example, Catman makes an appearance of him. Fortunately, he quickly exits the stage to the right.
When all is said and done, good overcomes evil and Batman appears to be reborn, renewed and ready to fight evil once again. Ras Al Ghul is killed but it is a fact that he will be resurrected and will appear again in the future to further taunt the Dark Knight.
One of the things I didn’t like about this problem was the artwork. As this was a special anniversary issue, over 20 illustrators worked on the interior art. Which means that every few pages the art would suddenly shift and take off in a new direction. This bothered me. It’s like watching a movie that keeps going from color to black and white and then back again. Just give me an artist and a writer and I’m fine. Put on a good colorist and I’m great.
I suppose I should mention now that Doug Moench has written the problem. Shout it …
If you haven’t read this number yet, it’s worth the $ 1 or so, you can probably pick it up for these days.
All in all I give it 4 out of 5 stars.
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