Saturday, July 29, 2006

Lego Batman: Secret Files and Origins

Lego Batman: Secret Files and Origins - Prepared for Lego of America by DC Comics
writer: Stephan Nilson
penciller: Marcus Muller
inker: Joe Rubinstein
colorists: Rench & Mayer
letterer: Phil Balsman
editor: Jaye Gardner

Yes, Lego Batman. A comic book's a comic book, okay?

Distributed at the Lego booth at Comic Con, I assumed this one-shot would offer a shallow story designed to shamelessly promote the Lego Batman franchise. I was half right. While the characters are literally drawn like their Lego counterparts, and the story is a simple Arkham-escape affair, the issue maintains enough self-depreciating humor to remain an entertaining read. Consider this introductory exchange:

LEGO TWO-FACE: We're going to take this town apart, brick by brick.
LEGO JOKER: I don't know what's more fun; breaking this place apart or watching them put it back together.

The writer is virtually telling the smirking reader, "Yes, I know I'm writing a Lego comic book, but it's still Batman, you know? Now let me break into the industry in piece. I mean, peace. Damn." I don't envy the artists of this issue, and I must commend their ability to draw these products with enough agility and expression to still tell a story. Kids can certainly use this comic as inspiration for recreating their own Lego Batman adventures, which I'm sure is the point anyway, yes? I doubt Lego sought to publish a comic book that would actually get reviewed somewhere . . . that's what the A Comic A Day challenge is for.

Throughout the issue, Lego advertises their various Batman related products through "Secret Files and Origins" pages that are formatted just like the real thing. Again, I don't know if the self-inflicted sarcasm is intended, but a line like isn't written (or read) without a smirk or chuckle: "Orphaned as a young mini-figure due to the actions of a criminal, Bruce Wayne dedicated his life to fighting evil. Now he has rebuilt himself as the Batman." Nice. Actually, although these descriptions are sprinkled with references to the Lego-verse -- and Crisis on Infinite Playsets can't be far behind -- they're actually surprisingly accurate to the true characters' core. For instance, Robin's origin reveals, "Young Tim Drake did what few others had . . . he figured out that Bruce Wayne was secretly Batman!" Without dragging in the baggage from the "A Lonely Place of Dying" saga, this description concisely, and rather energetically I might add, sums up Tim Drake's dedication and ingenuity. Like good Lego directions, it's precise.

Generally speaking, I think this issue frightened me, because I liked it. With the whole Jason Todd/Red Hood arc, and now the Crisis/One Year Later thing going on, I've been distant from the Bat-titles, just waiting for the whole thing to blow over. In this issue, villains break out of Arkham, Bats and co. touch base with Commissioner Gordon, and the Dark Knight ultimately brings the bad guys to justice. That's a decent Batman story, no matter how it's built. Sometimes fluff can be filling.

Note: Although I was tempted to digress into an argument on comics and licensing, I want to keep the A Comic A Day posts focused on reviewing comics. You can check out that rant at my
LiveJournal. That's a shameless ad, for ya.


Anonymous said...

As the writer of this story, I was suprised to see a review of the book. I am glad you liked it. Hopefully you'll like my Justice League Unlimited story as well.


Anonymous said...

Rench and Mayer made a stupendous job with the colors. The design looks so futurist, but conserves some classic details. I have not doubts this drawing is even better than "Batman using generic viagra with Catwoman # 13" limited edition.