“Son of Man-Bat” is an odd book to read because it’s a cartoon tie-in comic that makes references to episodes that never aired! I know I said I wasn’t going to review this comic this week, but I just couldn’t resist saying some little something about it. I haven’t read an issue of this series since it debuted so I can’t say whether or not these details have been explained in issues #2 or #3, but as a fan of the TV show, I can say that this felt like a really bizarre and bittersweet look at what might have been. In fact, you have to wonder just how far ahead this series is from what was supposed to take place in the first season of the show– Katana wielded the Soul Taker Sword in the first issue for cryin’ out loud! Beware the Batman hasn’t been a part of Cartoon Network’s schedule since October and while Cartoon Network refuses to outright say that it’s been canceled, I think that this comic’s absence from the April solicitations is a sign that the end is definitely near. The only real question is: what’s to come of all those un-aired episodes?

If you checked out the exclusive preview Batman News posted a few days ago then you’ll see the biggest… I guess we can say “spoilers” but if the TV show never airs again then there really isn’t anything to spoil! It’s safe to assume from this issue that in future episodes, Barbara Gordon would skip becoming Batgirl and go directly to serving the team as Oracle– no wheelchair required. That means that the Batman of Beware the Batman had two female sidekicks before ever partnering with Robin and that’s definitely a Batman first that you can add to the list of risks this animated series took. Also, we can obviously see that Man-Bat was going to be introduced in an episode. Kirk Langstrom plays a major role in this story and it’s evident that he and Batman have a history. By the looks of it, Beware the Batman‘s Man-Bat would have been even closer to the original Neal Adams version of the character than what we saw in Batman: The Animated Series. This incarnation was at first a rabid monster but his condition gradually stabilized, he spoke coherently, and even became an ally to The Dark Knight although he never discovered a cure. It sounds quite similar to the show’s treatment of Metamorpho really, only with a slightly happier ending.

As for the comic itself, it’s very much the typical Man-Bat story. There’s a giant bat terrorizing Gotham, Batman figures out it’s not Kirk Langstrom so the two characters team up, there’s an antidote that needs to be administered, yadayadayada. It’ll be good fun for the kids, but longtime Batman fans will likely be a bit bored. My recommendation for this book is strictly for those who just want to hold on to this cartoon a little longer before it fades away. Writer Ivan Cohen does a fine job of capturing just the right tone and getting the voices of these characters just right. The banter between Batman and Katana is just as enjoyable as ever. Luciano Vecchio and Franco Riesco are able to exceed the visuals of the show at times, but it’s still nothing too spectacular and certainly not up to the standards of the main bat-titles. As you probably know, the CG animation of the show was often times too smoothly textured and poorly lit and the characters were too stiff outside of the kung-fu action sequences, but pencil and ink don’t have the same restrictions. The characters can actually feel more flexible here than they did in the show.

Recommended If…

  • You miss the TV series this comic is based on dearly
  • “Rebel Without a Cause” is one of your favorite films
  • Monsters fighting each other sounds like quality entertainment
  • You’re shopping for your kids. It’s a great done-in-one book for youngsters

Overall

It could’ve been paced a lot better. I know it’s geared more toward children, but this Man-Bat story absolutely flew by (pun not intended). I recommend it to parents shopping for their children or fans of the show who want one last adventure before Beware the Batman vanishes for good in the medium as well.

SCORE: 5/10