Alright! Welcome to our first ever Quarantine Book Club! This week we will be discussing Batman: Prey by Doug Moench and Paul Gulacy. A little history on this story, it was originally released back in 1990 in Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, and is meant to serve as a follow-up to Batman: Year One and Catwoman: Her Sister’s Keeper

Naturally, that means this story takes place early in Batman’s career, and features Dr. Hugo Strange as the main antagonist. Now, while Strange is one of Batman’s earliest recurring villains, this was the first story that actually established him as a psychiatrist, and perhaps serves as the most defining story for the character. More on that in a bit. 

Josh: Before we dive into this, did anyone have any initial reactions to choosing this book? 

Casper: I remember when I first read this story years ago that I was blown away by the art. Particularly the fight scenes are fantastic, and a great example of how to do sequential art. Rereading it now, I’m glad that it holds up so well!

Josh: Yeah, I haven’t read this in a while, but I remembered liking it quite a bit and was happy to revisit it. I feel like, in many ways, it is a staple Batman story because of when it occurs and the relationships it establishes. 

Is this the first time any of you are reading Batman: Prey?

Michael: This was my first time reading it and it was very refreshing to have no clue what the story was going to be about.

Matina: It was my first time as well, so other than the summary of the book, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this story. 

Nick: Yeah, no clue what I was getting into here, other than this being yet another iconic Legends of the Dark Knight story that has gone under my admittedly small radar.

Josh: Absolutely! I had a small radar once as well. So, now that you have read it, any general opinions for the overall story? Were you surprised by it? Do you share my opinion that this is a staple Batman story?

Nick: I can definitely see why you’d think that! There’s a lot that the story does right, especially if you’re the kind of person who started reading Batman with Year One, and want to continue with stories fitting in that tone. I’m not sure if I’d call it a staple Batman story, but the definition of that is so vague nowadays that I certainly couldn’t object to it either. Despite it showing some age in a few respects, it has a lot of merits.

Michael: Overall I really enjoyed the story, although I did feel like the first two issues were better than the last three. I do think it should be considered a staple story since it really encapsulates a lot of what Batman is and his relationship to Gordon and Gotham City as a whole. It may pale in comparison to Year One, but almost every book does, and I think it’s a very worthy follow up.

Matina: I agree, I thought the first half was stronger than the second, but generally I enjoyed it. I wouldn’t list this in my top Batman books, but it was entertaining, and I enjoyed the look it provided into Bruce’s early career.

Josh: Speaking of the time frame, one of my favorite things about Batman: Prey is that it is early in Batman’s career, and because of that, his inexperience defines so much of the story. I know I’m biased, but I always lean towards these types of Batman stories because it allows for so much growth and development. 

Nick: Yeah, seeing Batman struggle with the basics of crimefighting is very refreshing after following all the stupid stuff he gets up to nowadays – which is fun, but just a very different vibe to Bruce when mastering the precise art of dressing up as a furry who beats up drug dealers. 

Michael: Like Josh, I really enjoy reading stories early in Bruce’s crime-fighting career as it gives the opportunity to show growth and create understandable inner turmoil. I love how Bruce is not fully competent yet in this book, as well as his overall sense of self-doubt.

Josh: Agreed. It’s nice to see that struggle. There’s no doubt that Batman is highly trained and more than capable here, but he’s just now starting to put all of that training to use. Even in current stories, it’s nice to see Batman encounter some real challenges. This is something that Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch have been doing well in The Batman’s Grave. 

Matina: I also loved seeing Batman struggle here. So often, when I read Batman comics, I’m waiting for the trick. That moment where Batman reveals he’s been in on the plan the whole time and is either faking having a hard time or doing something to undermine the villain, and I felt that way here for all of two seconds before I realized he wasn’t faking. Bruce was just really worn out from a bad night, and I loved seeing that side of him. 

Casper: That’s why these early days, when Batman is still more of an urban legend than an established protector of Gotham, are probably my favorite. This story is a good example of how the mythology and the more grounded aspects of Batman can be balanced. Batman is on the run from the police, and in the meantime, people are still wondering if he’s actually some kind of vampire monster in the dark. This is my favorite thing about Prey. 

Josh: I laughed when the drug addict was describing him! 

Nick: Touching back on Batman’s learning curve, seeing him having to abandon his glider because of the wind and walk home, wishing his Batmobile was ready already? I felt that.

Josh: Dude. Tell me about it! 

Casper: Yeah! That’s exactly what I mean by it balancing mythology and more grounded stuff. While the public doesn’t know what to think of him, we get to see him as a human being with very human limits (even if he is capable of more than the average human).

Michael: My absolute favorite page in the entire story is when Bruce is walking home wishing he had a car. I’m not sure if it was meant to be that funny but I laughed out loud. 

Matina: Haha! I laughed at him having to walk home too. 

Josh: You two are awful! The poor guy had to walk all the way back to the mansion after a rough night of fighting crime! That sucks! … And, yeah, is a little funny, I guess. Haha!

Nick: The satisfaction I felt when he finally got the car, though.~

Matina: Reading Prey made me realize that a lot of things I find as staples to who Batman is, took working out on Bruce’s side of things. Like his car and the signal, and all kinds of gadgets he uses now. 

Josh: Definitely. I’m going to stop us from going into the signal and whatnot because I plan on touching on that in a bit. Before we get to that, did anyone feel like this story may have influenced some of the Batman films that have been produced?

Nick: There’s a scene in the second issue of the story that reminds me a lot of Batman Begins, where the Mayor’s daughter, Catherine, remarks on Batman being a better man than those at the socialite gathering. Bruce says, “I suppose that depends on how you measure a man”, to which Catherine replies, “by his deeds.” It honestly seems like a less clunky way of expressing “It’s not who you are underneath, but what you do that defines you”, though I suppose that was always meant to be Bruce’s “with great power” quote in that movie.

Casper: That’s a good observation, Nick!

Josh: Oh yeah! I do think Moench delivered a better exchange here. 

And there are many influences here that Nolan seems to have pulled from. The scene pulled from above. Bruce’s trial and error as Batman. Even how Nolan approached Scarecrow, to a degree, seems to be based on Hugo Strange’s depiction here – at least of his assessment of Batman anyway. But, yes, there are heavy influences from both Batman: Year One and Batman: Prey in Batman Begins and even The Dark Knight. 

Nick: Speaking of Year One, with the dual narrative of Batman and Gordon, you really get a sense that this is a direct follow-up to Year One. It’s nice in that it gives you the sense that you’re already familiar with the story and the world, though I can’t help but wonder if exactly replicating Year One’s style hurts it a little. You notice it with Gordon in particular, scenes just being that little lower in quality, and I think that puts this story in another one’s shadow. That said, I love how it dives into the difficulties Gordon faces in navigating his relationship with a vigilante and his teammates.

Josh: Yeah, I can see that. I think if you look at it comparatively, then yes, you definitely see that shadow. I’m of the mindset that Batman: Year One is a near-perfect book though, so I kind of expect that shadow. When you look at this as a continuation though, it diminishes that shadow quite a bit. 

Casper: I do think that that’s the book’s biggest shortcoming, though. Sometimes I feel like it tries too hard to mimic Year One, and because I’m so aware of that, I sometimes get pulled out of the story. I enjoy this book just fine, but I wish it was a little bit more unique in terms of form and voice. On the other hand, I do like that it adds to Year One, and that you can read these back to back. That’s pretty cool.

Josh: Nick, earlier you mentioned that Gordon’s scenes were a little lower quality, and while I agree with you to an extent in some instances, I do feel as though Gordon’s arc is what makes this story such a staple in Batman’s continuity. I mean, this is the story that solidifies a working relationship between Gordon and Batman. 

Michael: I actually thought the Gordon scenes and his burgeoning relationship with Bruce was a highlight of the book. I knew this was a follow up to Year One, but I was still taken aback by how many things are given their origin here, especially the bat signal. I loved the idea that Gordon has a cloth cut out of the Bat-signal that he puts over a regular searchlight and is still not sure if he’ll ever make a permanent one.

Josh: Yeah, that flirtation with endangering his career for the greater good adds a nice weight to the book. We know Gordon is one of the few good cops, so he needs to stay at the GCPD, but we also know that he and Batman need each other to become successful. 

Casper: I’m with you guys. Gordon and Batman’s dynamic was definitely a highlight for me too, despite my earlier criticism about this book being perhaps a little bit too similar to Year One. But then again, I’ll never grow tired of the Gordon and Batman dynamic. That’s a big reason why I keep coming back to Batman comics. As for this book in particular, it’s just cool how they learn to trust each other a little more, and by the end of the story you can really notice this arc that they went through together. They kind of end up in a similar place, even though they started in very different places. Good stuff.

Nick: I see your points in that it’s still a strong part of the story, and probably what holds it together – I just can’t help but wonder if it could, or should, have stood out more instead of following directly in Year One’s footsteps. It was nice to see the difficulties they had being allies, though, like when Gordon acknowledges he trusts the Bat, but isn’t in a position to help him.

Michael: I will say that sometimes the secret back and forths between Gordon and Batman kinda felt like two lovestruck teens going behind their parents’ backs. 

Josh: Oh my God! No, you didn’t. Haha!

Michael: That might be just because of one moment where Bruce throws a rock at Gordon’s window and stands there in plain sight to have a chat.

Josh: All Batman needed was a boom box. 

Matina: Well, I still haven’t read Year One, so I don’t see all the comparisons between the two. 

Josh: *Gasps* WHO HIRED YOU!?!?!?! Amateur! Haha!

Matina: I know, I know.  

Josh: I’m kidding. 

Matina: I was just going to say that I also thought Gordon’s scenes were the best parts of this book. I loved seeing these early moments of him relating to Batman and struggling to deal with both how the city sees Batman and what he believes about him. One of my favorite moments was him first lighting up the Bat-signal, it was a combo of “Oh yeah! The first time!” and a moment of me just really interested in the conflict of Gordon, the police force, and Batman. 

Josh: I completely agree. 

I want to go ahead and move on to… Dr. Hugo Strange. I think we can all agree that he is definitely off his rocker in Prey. 

Nick: I love how Moench commits to this portrayal! The most important point I can make in this section is mentioning how the first issue makes you believe that Strange has hired a prostitute, before he punches her in the second issue and it’s revealed to be a dummy. Him wearing the Batman suit as he does this paints a wonderful picture. And it just gets more perfect from there.

Michael: Yeah, I did notice that the would-be prostitute looked like a mannequin when first introduced, but I thought that was just a consequence of the…let’s say less than stellar representation of women in this book. Did almost every woman in this book being shown in their underwear at some point bother anyone else?

Casper: Well, I think that actually gets worse in the follow-up to this story, in which, if I remember correctly, we are treated to an awkward encounter with Batman and Catwoman in an alley… or something. 

Josh: Yeah, if I remember correctly, they just go further in general in Terror. I believe Strange is naked in multiple scenes, which only adds to his disturbing nature. 

Casper: Anyway, I wasn’t too bothered by it, but I’m not going to pretend I didn’t notice it. There are many naked women in this book, some of which are prostitutes in bed with gangsters. Another is a woman that gets kidnapped and gets tied to a bed. Then there’s Catwoman. It could definitely have been a little bit more subtle, but welcome to the 90s, I guess.

Matina: It bothered me tremendously. Having just about every female nude or semi-nude through the book pulled me out a number of times. At first I thought “oh well it is an older book” but by the end I was pretty tired of it. 

Casper: That’s fair. It’s even worse when you consider that many of these women don’t really do anything, except are just in bed with men, or are damsels in distress. Except maybe Catwoman, but even Catwoman is more sexualized than necessary. Like, she’s a sexy woman, I get it, but this is getting to a point that it becomes a fetish.

 

Matina: Exactly. I was particularly bugged by the Mayor’s daughter. As one of the few women who seems to have a presence in the book, she’s treated pretty badly towards the end. There were a number of moments that felt like they could have easily been done differently. Like how she could have been at least dressed when she was kidnapped. It does just get to the point where it feels written specifically to be sexy instead of being part of the story. 

Casper: Yep. Can’t deny that.

Nick: Oh, okay, yeah, I’m starting to see it.….Eeeeuuuuhhhhhhhh.

Josh: Yeah, I do see each of your points here. There were moments where I thought, “Ok, this is a bit much,” but overall I felt like a number of these instances did add to the story – or the character – even if indirectly. With Strange, it really plays into his manipulation tactics, and the dominance he inflicts over others. If you’ve watched Birds of Prey & the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (full movie title for the win), it’s similar to the scene where Roman makes the girl get on the table and dance as he rips her dress off. It’s highly disturbing, but also highly effective. You’re supposed to feel uncomfortable. 

As for Catwoman, we need to remember that based on her origin in Batman: Year One and Catwoman: Her Sister’s Keeper, she was a prostitute. Because of that, I expect her to be quite sexualized here. I know many people don’t like the prostitution angle with her, but I always thought it added an interesting element to her as a character. I’m not saying it provides the best outlook for her, but it definitely makes a greater impact over time once she finally pulls herself up to become a practical hero (as depicted in Brubaker, Cooke, and Stewart’s run). 

Nick: I’ve always liked Selina beginning her Gotham adventures as a prostitute – it’s nice to know that Bruce doesn’t judge her for being a sex worker, to my knowledge – and I think it adds a level of nuance to her life before Batman that I can appreciate. Could do without the gratuitous nipple from Gulacey, though. 

Josh: Yeah, I’ll agree that may have been a bit much. 

Matina: Regarding Strange again, I do realize that part of it plays into how Hugo is reacting to everything, and his own jealousy. But even that doesn’t mean it doesn’t stop how uncomfortable it can be to read. 

Josh: Yeah, he’s definitely meant to make you uncomfortable. And he’s clearly not presented in a positive light, so I’m ok with his portrayal and the things he does here. I mean, there are bad people in the world that do awful things. 

And, to be fair, while they don’t necessarily show much in the way of the male physique, they do play into the same nature with men. We see this with Strange’s obsession with Batman, and it really becomes clear that there’s an infatuation when he puts the Bat cowl on the mannequin. 

Michael: I adore that panel of the mannequin in the Bat-cowl.

Casper: You adore it. I find it very disturbing — haha!

Josh: It’s super disturbing. I mean, even the way that Strange speaks of and to Batman or Max Cort, there’s this strange, homo-erotic angle to it that is extremely unsettling. It’s uncomfortable to read.

Casper: Now that you mention that… could Strange be based on Dr. Wertham, if only loosely? I don’t know. I might be reading too much into this right now.

Josh: It could be. I’ve never read anything to confirm that, but writers usually like to pull from comic history, so I’d believe it. 

Michael: I like the more psycho-sexual angle on Hugo Strange because it is legitimately creepy and makes him come across more unhinged and jealous. I was a big fan when he dresses up in his Batsuit and almost falls off his balcony. That’s the type of villain content I crave. 

Matina: Yeah, I also got that unhinged and jealous vibe from him. Almost falling off the balcony did give me a chuckle, but I also thought it was an interesting moment for him. He was even more frustrated there that he couldn’t be the same as Batman physically. 

Nick: I strongly agree with all of you here – making Strange such a wretched being haunted by his own demons that he tries to project onto Batman makes for a villain that is so much more compelling than a rather generic Moriarty-type. The scene in issue 4 where Batman confronts Strange, the two illuminated by the shadows and rain, is so striking and unsettling.

Josh: Yeah, we definitely need to give credit to Moench for creating this version of Hugo Strange. For me, this was the first depiction of him that felt real and believable. I believe this was the first time he was depicted as a psychiatrist, and that created an entirely different attack for Strange to approach Batman with. 

Before, Strange was essentially nothing more than a mad scientist that experimented on people – a plot that’s become quite tired over the years considering there have been three different stories now that feature him turning people into monsters due to his experiments. 

Nick: Yeah, but now? God, what an effective antagonist, managing to create a circus of horrors for Bruce in his own home with some mannequins and tape recordings… I want to see another Hugo Strange story like this, instead of one where he gets ripped after setting kaijus loose on the city.

Josh: Agreed. I liked the psychological approach.

What did y’all think about Max Cort as Night Scourge? 

Michael: I ultimately felt bad for Max since he fell under Strange’s hypnosis, but I can’t say I’ll look back fondly on Night Scourge. I didn’t care for his costume design which screams 90’s at me and I wish his ultimate fate was left a little more open-ended. There was a good opportunity to explore what separates Batman from a violent vigilante like Night Scourge, but I felt like the book settled for having Max being a one-note villain by the end.

Casper: I think that Max Cort worked well as a key factor in the story, but other than that, I don’t really care about this character. Like Michael, I don’t really care for his costume. It’s kind of generic 90’s nonsense. Sometimes that’s cool, but here I think it just looks lame. You know, even though I’ve read this book years ago, I didn’t even remember this character was in this book at all until I reread it for this article. I’m pretty sure I will forget about his existence again soon. When he got shot at the end of the story, I didn’t really care, either, even though I feel like I’m supposed to find it tragic and perhaps a little bit sad.

Nick: All this in mind, I definitely think he’s one of the stronger cop antagonists I’ve read in a Batman story.

Matina: Yeah, the book is much less focused on him than everyone else by the time he’s Night Scourge. I thought as a character and source of conflict against Batman, Max worked a lot better as just a policeman obsessed with stopping him. Night Scourge just trying to be ‘better’ than Batman kind of pulled everything interesting about him away and turned him into just another villain to me. 

Josh: That’s a good point, Matina. I agree that he was more interesting as a cop opposing Batman. I get that he was manipulated/ hypnotized by Strange, but that only makes me wish he’d stuck around. They could’ve easily continued his story as Max Cort, former cop, looking to get revenge on Batman/ villains. Now, that is a bit generic, but if you put the focus on the character itself rather than the plot device, you could’ve had some interesting stories. 

 We should probably talk about Catwoman since she’s featured in the story. She’s not necessarily a major player, but she is here.

Nick: Hi Catwoman! Bye Catwoman!

Michael: I love Catwoman but felt like her depiction and place in the story was about as standard as you can get. I don’t mind her outfit here, although I’ve never been a fan of her having a tail, but her arc is nothing more than a continuation of the flirty/violent back and forth she and Bruce have. 

Josh: Completely valid. And I, too, am not a fan of the costume.

Casper: I don’t mind Catwoman’s role in this, either. Funny thing, I thought I remembered her having a much bigger role in this book, and was surprised that she was mostly in the background. I don’t think she needed a bigger role, though. This isn’t necessarily her story. Her role in the book just works the way it is now. If she had more panel time, this book would’ve gotten too crowded, I think. In a story set in the early days of Batman’s career, it’s probably for the best that the creative team’s sticking to the basics of the Batman/Catwoman dynamic.

Matina: Agreed, I don’t think she needed a really big role. I like her as a window into everything else going on in Gotham. You guys have worded her inclusion well, having her around simply makes the story feel fuller and more realized, instead of being hyper-focused on any one or two elements. 

Michael: Yeah, Catwoman definitely operates more as a world-building piece rather than a fully-fledged character. I don’t mind that at all. 

Josh: That’s actually a perfect way of describing her inclusion here, Michael. Ultimately, she doesn’t really add much to the story, but does play a more prominent role in the follow-up to this, Batman: Terror. That’s probably what you were thinking of, Casper. When you look at her character arc from Year One/ Her Sister’s Keeper, to Prey, then Terror, and finally The Long Halloween though, it all unfolds incredibly well! 

To expand on Michael’s comment of Catwoman serving as a world-building piece, it really is true. Selina provides a window to society through street crime – something that is featured rather heavily in the background of the story – but also a window into the everyday lives of Gotham’s citizens. The rumbles of a vigilante and a cat burglar from normal citizens give the story a lived-in feel. It helps bring Gotham to life, almost as if Gotham itself is a character. It’s a subtle technique, but it does so much for the story as a whole.

 

 

Michael: I think the book does a great job of using media, from tv shows to newspaper headlines, to create a tangible Gotham. I’m a sucker for scenes where several supporting characters are on a talk show and blatantly discuss the themes and stakes of the story. I loved seeing Hugo Strange on tv with Gordon and the others. Having Bruce at home watching it unfold creates a sense of world-building and connection between characters that have few, if any, scenes together.

Josh: Yes! The scene where they’re all on the talk show is fantastic! It’s scenes like this that ground books in a way that we tend to not see anymore. Frank Miller used the same technique in The Dark Knight Returns, and we all see what the general opinion of that book is… It usually tops the Best of Batman lists. 

Nick: The little things like that – the societal reaction to everything unfolding in the book – it lends authenticity and coherency to the story that’s very gratifying to read. Not to be a “we don’t get stories like this anymore” guy, because we just got Harleen, but I want mooooore.

Josh: I’m definitely in the same boat. 

We haven’t really discussed the art or Paul Gulacy. Any thoughts?

Casper: The art is really good. Like, really good. The sequential aspect I touched on above already, but I’d like to reiterate just how well that’s put together. These panels just flow. The story is constantly in motion. 

Josh: Yeah, I often have trouble putting into words what, exactly, makes for good sequential art, but this is definitely a great book to reference when discussing it. But you’re right, everything just flows. It’s cinematic when it needs to be, but also intimate when it needs to be. 

I feel like the action, in particular, really connects. Aside from a weird panel of Batman performing an awkward kick, there’s a certain brutality and story found in the action. It’s as if you can feel the impact of every blow. I love that!

Michael: I thought the art was pretty great throughout. The real showstopper here, besides the incredible sequential fight sequences, is the extended nightmare Bruce suffers. Really impressive stuff and Moench’s prose shined there too. There’s a great panel where Batman is engulfed in a spotlight with half a dozen huge guns aimed right at him, it’s real distressing stuff. 

Casper: I also appreciate how detailed the art is. There are so many things in the background. 

Matina: I loved how detailed everything was for sure! It’s not often I get really distracted by art while reading a comic and I found myself lingering on panels all the time as I read, just looking at little details and getting lost in enjoying how full everything feels. 

Casper: The various homes and interior locations inform you about who these people are. Dr. Strange’s apartment looks pretty clean, just like Dr. Strange himself might seem like an okay dude at first glance. But then you discover this weird mannequin and the fact that he’s got a young woman tied to a bed and of course the fake Batsuit that he created, and it all speaks to his deranged mind. Wayne Manor, the Batcave, the offices at the GCPD, etc, all work in similar ways. Paul Gulacy is really good at that. 

Josh: Yeah, I completely agree with you concerning the exteriors and overall design. We talked about how Moench’s script allowed Gotham to feel alive, but Gulacy’s work really makes Gotham feel lived in. There’s a personality to each scene, and is a perfect example of how the artists provide layers of storytelling to the book. 

Nick: The artwork (when it was clean) really made this story, though – continuing the work that Year One artist David Mazzucchelli did by creating a gritty and lived-in world for the characters, yet managing to hit some striking imagery when it calls for it. Bruce’s recollections of his parents’ murder were grizzly, haunting, and definitely one of its best interpretations. Not to mention the aura of shame Gulacey creates around Batman’s silhouette walking in the daylight. My issue with his work is my issue with Clay Mann’s – a very impressive skill level, with room for improvement in how they portray women. We’ve spoken about that already, though.

Josh: Yeah, although I do think there’s a fundamental difference between Mann’s aesthetic and Gulacy’s. Mann tends to draw characters so that their costumes are practically stuck to them. It’s almost like an anatomy lesson – but I feel like it’s consistent with both men and women. I know people tend to speak to Mann’s females, but he honestly does it with men as well if you actually pay attention to it. 

As for Gulacy, he definitely sexualizes characters for the sake of sexualization or to create an uncomfortable/ disturbing scene. While we’ve discussed the women, we can’t forget that Cort is laying in his underwear in one scene, and the gun runner is completely nude. So, while the two artists have similar situations on the surface, I think their intentions are quite different. 

Nick: I agree about the costumes, but I don’t think I can agree that he treats each gender the same in his depictions – that’s probably a discussion for later, though, if we do a Heroes in Crisis roundtable.

Josh: If I’m being honest, when you mentioned Mann, I thought you were going to call attention to the faces of the characters. There are some dead eyes here. 

Casper: I dislike the way Gulacy draws faces. They just look so weird sometimes. Some of these characters have monkey faces.

Michael: I agree on the faces looking a little off at times. Really my only complaint about any visuals here is the cursive lettering for Batman’s narration. I know it’s somewhat common but I really hate having to deal with it sometimes.

Josh: You know, I typically like cursive, but there were moments here where I had to look carefully to see what was written. That was a little irritating. 

Nick: Yeah, the narration was a struggle to read, and the actual content of that cursive held some strong stuff. 

Casper: Before we move on, let’s not forget the really impressive coloring!

Josh: Yes! So much of the tone from this book is brought to life by the use of coloring and shadows. I especially liked the yellow wash used for the late-night scenes at the GCPD, but there are multiple examples of great work. In general, it’s strong work from start to finish aside from the few shortcomings we nitpicked. 

Nick: It’s definitely what sold me on the atmosphere of the book, especially during Bruce’s nightmare sequences.

Josh: Alright, let’s go ahead and wrap this up. What are your final thoughts on the book as a whole?

Michael: Even though I think the book somewhat limps to its conclusion, it’s well worth any fan to check out. Year One is probably my favorite comic ever made and I felt this captured enough of its magic, at least in terms of seeing Bruce’s early days in crime-fighting. I enjoy smaller-scale stories like this where the fate of the entire city isn’t at risk and the cat and mouse between Hugo Strange and Bruce were gripping the entire arc. And as a relative newcomer to Hugo Strange stories, this was a great introduction of sorts to what makes him tick. Any fan of Jim Gordon will have a lot to enjoy here too.

Nick: Yeah, the ending was a little weak and felt a tad rushed – but the payoff was there for each antagonist, whose stories were resolved in a satisfying and ironic way. A shame the same can’t be said for Catherine, who doesn’t get any lines in the final issue. I think you see the story’s age by the end of the book, from outdated tropes to dialogue that leaves something to be desired – but the dialogue that does hit? It hits hard, and the story leaves a significant impact when it’s at its best. Batman: Prey is a definite recommendation for people who like a more grounded Batman story.

Matina: Yeah, what drew me in most in this book was the moments with Gordon and just seeing Batman take on crime on a smaller scale again. Compared to the stories we get today, where everything feels huge and almost too much, it was really refreshing to see something more toned down where Batman struggled. And man, I just really enjoyed Jim’s parts. Him as a cop, and relating to Batman, and just… All of it! I definitely agree with recommending this to any Jim Gordon fans. 

Casper: In addition to what you guys said, I want to emphasize that for me the main selling point is the great sequential art. Each panel is a setup for the next, and the next panel follows on logically; particularly the fight scenes are highlights for me–the choreography is pretty cool. There are a few weird shots here and there, but for the most part this book looks great, from the layouts down to the smallest details in the backgrounds of panels. Except for those weird monkey faces, that is. But I guess you can’t have it all…

Josh: Batman: Prey serves as a solid story that dives into Bruce’s early years as Batman. He’s yet to figure everything out, and is almost put down before his journey ever really begins thanks to the media-savvy and manipulative Dr. Hugo Strange. With a city and police force working against him, it becomes clear that Batman’s relationship with Jim Gordon will be key for his success. While the book is a sign of its time in many ways, it’s still an incredible read with solid art, and is a must-read for any Bat-fan.

 

Thanks for joining us this week! We’d love to hear your thoughts on Batman: Prey. Do you agree with our assessment? Did we miss something? Let us know in the comments, and make sure you read up for next week’s book, Batman: Ego!

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