Wednesday, July 5, 2017

On Sale June 28, 2017: BATMAN / ELMER FUDD # 1 from DC Comics.

Beg, bowwow, or steal a copy of BATMAN / ELMER FUDD # 1 from DC Comics!  …Though, preferably not steal, Batman wouldn’t like that! 

Can you think of a more unlikely pairing for this wonderful special than Batman and Elmer Fudd?  I’ll admit there would be some great possibility for Adam West’s Batman to meet Elmer Fudd…

“Are you aware, citizen, that there are strict limits on rabbit hunting within the limits of Gotham City?  Not to mention the considerable threat to safety and overall tranquility?” 

“Im vewwy sowwy, Mister Caped Cwusader, sir!  I didn’t wealize the twouble I’m wesponsible for!”

“Quite all right, citizen!  Just remember that our laws are the very cornerstone of our great civilization, and that even the slightest infraction of them diminishes us all!” 

“Oh, I will!  I will!  So wong… And good wuck in your confwict with The Widdler!”  (Pauses a beat)  “Say, I wonder... Could that have been the WABBIT?”

(Bugs Bunny pops back into scene, raises a Batman mask from his face, and plants a big kiss on Elmer) “Eeeh, COULD BE!” 

So, DC?  Got a writer lined up for the BATMAN ‘66 / ELMER FUDD SPECIAL, yet?  You do?  And it’s Vic Lockman?  …Aw, nut-bunnies! 

Okay, back to our regularly scheduled review…

Unlike LOBO / ROAD RUNNER, I opted for only one cover – the Elmer Fudd-centric one, just because it’s been so many years since Elmer was cover and title featured. 

But, in retrospect (…and isn’t it amazing that ANYTHING can be “in retrospect” about a week-old comic book, but I digress), I think the Batman-oriented cover is ultimately more appealing, for reasons I’ll discuss when we get into the backup story. 

In the issue, you’ll find “Pway for Me”, a 30-page lead, and a perfect send-up of the Film Noir genre, written by Tom King and drawn by Lee Weeks – the latter an artist I recall as being periodically involved with Batman, and whose work I always enjoyed very much.   

Just look at this magnificent full-page splash!  

...Anyone else thinking of THIS about now?  

...Especially when we zoom in for some detail focus?  

End of gratuitous IDW DONALD DUCK, Giorgio Cavazzano, Thad Komorowski digression!

Oh, and you've GOTTA love this!  
Someone should make a MOVIE and some SEQUELS about this! 
Elmer is INDEED "hunting wabbits"... In particular, one Bugs ("The Bunny"), the slimy type of Film Noir denizen that Peter Lorre specialized in and, oddly, who resembles The Penguin on the current TV series GOTHAM.  

More "Noir" Narration!

Could Tex Avery have ever imagined THIS, back in 1940?!


"Porky's" establishment is chock full of not-so-reasonable Looney Tunes facsimile characters, including, but hardly limited to...

...Marvin the Martian...

...The Poor Fool who bet his life's savings on the supernatural singing talents of "Michigan J. Frog"...

(Oddly, Ol' Michigan J. would seem to be the only Looney Tunes character to appear in this series of lead stories looking like his "normal self"!) 

...And, of course, Porky Pig in the, er... flesh!   

In true Bugs Bunny fashion, "The Bunny" easily redirects Elmer's ire away from himself, and toward Bruce Wayne.

This, of course, leads to Fudd's inevitable meeting with Batman.  

I seriously doubt that anyone would consider it a "Spoiler" if I said: First they fight, then they join forces!  After all, that's the standard formula for virtually EVERY "Team-Up" or "first meeting" comic book ever created...  except maybe SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP!  
...Ain't it the truth! ...Ain't it the truth! 

First they fight...
Gotta love the "sound effects gag" in this exchange of punches. 

Gratuitous IDW Disney Comics Digression # 2: I love this type of gag so much, I did it myself in IDW's MICKEY MOUSE # 13 (2016) - but with FRENCH, the way Michael Maltese might have done if he ever got to write a Pepe Le Pew comic!  

Final IDW Disney Comics Digression, I promise!

Then, they join forces...

...Which is bad news for this world's Yosemite Sam!  
Great Horny-Toads!  ...Er, Bats! 

The payoff, which I WILL NOT SPOIL is a treat for anyone who read seventies BATMAN and DETECTIVE COMICS, and is a brilliant homage/parody to the genre of Film Noir!  

Why, even Peter Lorre would approve!    

In an unexpected break with the great enthusiasm I've expressed for the 8-page backups in other issues of this series that I've read thus far, I find myself less enamored of the backup to BATMAN / ELMER FUDD than I expected to be!   

Applying some thought to such an opinion, I find that two factors combine to conspire against this story.

The first, and admittedly most arbitrary, would be that Batman looks like a rendition right out of MAD Magazine, and I never found that style much appealing.  

Thus, my slight but nagging, aforementioned twinge of "buyers' remorse" at choosing the above version of the cover, over that illustrated below.  

I don't like to be critical of something to which I cannot offer a a "better way" than that which was done, so I must confess to not having a clear vision of exactly which version of "Batman" would have worked best in this story.  
Not exactly the "Batman Animated Series" version...

Maybe "Batman The Brave and the Bold"?

A caricatured comics version of Adam West's "Batman '66"?

The "Grim-Dark Batman" of modern comics might have made an bizarre and incongruous contrast with a cartoony version of Elmer Fudd... but that would mean that "Grim-Dark Batman" would have appeared in BOTH stories, and that's not how the series appears to work.  

Or, even something entirely new, created specifically for this story.  ...I dunno, just maybe not this!

Moving on to the second factor, it would seem that, today, the character of Elmer Fudd exists only to be a HUNTER, and is further defined by his inability to "keep straight" exactly WHICH hunting season it is.  "Duck Season"?  "Rabbit Season"?  "Mongoose Season"?  "Fiddler Crab Season"?  And, so on.   

Once upon a time, Elmer J. Fudd was more of an all purpose foil or patsy for Bugs, Daffy, Sylvester, even the Goofy Gophers, and a persistent and inextinguishable CANDLE!  But no more.  

On the strength of three wonderful cartoons by writer Michael Maltese and director Chuck Jones, "Rabbit Fire" (1951), "Rabbit Seasoning" (1952), and "Duck, Rabbit, Duck" (1953), Elmer Fudd appears to have ironically fallen victim to the same sort of "typecasting" as did Adam West, post BATMAN.  

Problem with this is that it just looks like "The Easy Way Out", to employ this classic setup as the backup for BATMAN / ELMER FUDD...

...Especially in casting BATMAN in the DAFFY DUCK role!

It just seems to me that there are an almost infinite number of story possibilities when combining characters with the rich histories of Batman and Elmer Fudd, that to again walk this oft-trodden path is a squandering of potential.  Just look at the brilliant "Film Noir" lead!  Such an out-of-character (...for BATMAN, at least) retread is all the more a pity, considering that Batman and Elmer Fudd are very unlikely to cross paths again!  

Consider that Elmer could easily have been cast as "Wobin", or "The Widdler" in any sort of inspired Bat-spoof, or merely as an ordinary imperiled, or harried and "fwustrated" citizen, with the constant tumult of Batman's mad world going-on around him while he "twies to welax"! I especially like that last one!  ...And Batman, wouldn't have needed to adopt a "MAD Magazine look"! 

That said, BATMAN / ELMER FUDD, and ALL of the DC Comics / Looney Tunes Crossover Specials I've read thus far, are highly recommended!  
Slide down the poles, fire up the car, and get them all -- as fast as you can!  You won't wegwet it!  

1 comment:

Joe Torcivia said...

Apparently, BATMAN / ELMER FUDD has sold so well that it’s already heading for a SECOND PRINTING, a week after its on-sale date, as noted HERE.

Congwatuwations, DC!