Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Bogie Man #1

The Bogie Man #1, September 1986, Fat Man Press
writers: John Wagner & Alan Grant
artist: Robin Smith
letterer: Bambos Georgiou

Yesterday's review of Jeremiah Harm was intentionally brief, firstly to emphasize my highly anticipation as the primary post of the day, and secondly to set the stage for today's offering, The Bogie Man, which is also written, at least in part, by Alan Grant. I may have mentioned Alan Grant before; in fact, for every time I've mentioned my adulation for Norm Breyfogle's run on Batman and Detective Comics, you can replace his name with "Alan Grant." Grant, with Wagner for a time, wrote at least one of Batman's two prominent titles in the '90s, arguably the Caped Crusader's most popular decade ever, what with his movies and animated series and action figures and . . . well, I can fill pages with the numerous incarnations Batman experienced thanks to well negociated franchising rights. Yet, for the fans that still followed the Dark Knight in his native medium, Grant was more often than not pulling the strings; in fact, Grant launched the third of Batman's four ongoing books in the '90s, Shadow of the Bat. But I digress. Needless to say, the guy is a good writer, and I'm glad to see he's still in the business.

This issue takes us back a bit, to those days when Grant & Wagner may not have had much of a reputation in the States. The Bogie Man is as it sounds: a comic book about a guy that thinks he's Humphrey Bogart. Simple enough, but when you add that the disillusioned fellow is an escapee from an asylum, believes himself to be a gumshoe in the middle of a case, and has armed himself for protection, then a harmless gag turns into an interestingly dangerous concept. Indeed, without the establishment that this guy's fantasy could turn deadly for the bystanders around him, the Bogey Man really is nothing more than an ongoing homage, a potentially satirical take on the actor's classic vocal and physical mannerisms. I use the word "classic" and I realize the layer of modern vs. "the way things used to be" also comes into play here. If Bogie were around nowadays, would he be just as seemingly insane as his admirer from this issue? Quite possibly . . .

Therein lies the evidence of Grant and Wagner's genius. Their creation of the Bat-villain the Ventrioquist is a simple enough idea, but when you add that special layer of crazy, that hint of commentary that elevates a two-bit bad guy into a "supervillain," then readers come back for more. Unfortunately, they often come back for the magic, not the magicians behind the curtain. Batman is still as popular as ever, notably sans those supplemental series from the '90s, but still a powerhouse all his own. Today's writers may be giving the Caped Crusader a few worthy adventures, but the guys like Alan Grant that were redefining the character for a new generation have Batman some hope. Thanks to them, we know that if the franchising rights go belly up, Batman is still at home in his comic books. Do you really need that talking toothbrush, anyway?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't know the bogie man :S
I'm gonna look the comics on the web and I see if I like it.
Thanks for sharing.