Batman ‘89 ends far better than it should, but still disappointingly. Writer Sam Hamm doesn’t go for an action-packed Batman finale, instead letting Bruce Wayne do the final showdown, which ought to emphasize Billy Dee Williams’s Harvey Dent, only doesn’t. It very strangely reduces Michael Keaton’s Bruce Wayne material as well. Hamm seems to know Bruce Wayne hasn’t got the emotional heft in the story, so he doesn’t try to shoehorn any in; it’s somewhat admirable not to refocus the comic, but it doesn’t make the comic any better.
Worse are all the things Hamm either doesn’t do in the issue or intentionally avoids doing. There’s a difference; with Catwoman, Hamm avoids; with Barbara Gordon, previously a major supporting player, Hamm doesn’t do anything. She’s not even in the main action, instead relegated to the epilogue.
Not-yet-Robin Drake Winston gets the worst of it. The issue reduces him to third-string, behind Catwoman, and completely avoids the Batman and Robin relationship. It’s like Hamm couldn’t crack the finish, which can work in an ongoing comic book series, which ’89 isn’t, but definitely not in a movie, which ’89 is trying to mimic. It’s too bad.
Still, another outing for the series would be most welcome. Joe Quinones’s art is good (outside, you know, Catwoman’s strange new leggings, which I thought Alfred would have to comment on but doesn’t), and it’s not his fault the series finishes so flat. Especially the end, which has what should’ve been a recurring theme introduced on the very last page, but then no good Batman finale. No place for Danny Elfman music to swell.
I had such high hopes for the series, which I knew would be hard for it to achieve, but I still thought they’d finish it better than they do. Hamm really just doesn’t have an ending for the Harvey Dent arc, and the couple monologues he gives the character are lacking; Billy Dee Williams would do a great job, but they’re not heavy-lifting.
Oh, and the action finale is a visual mess. I don’t know if more pages would’ve helped; Quinones can’t fix the writing with the art, but it’s still a mess.
So Batman ‘89 remains at best an occasionally successful curiosity and a surprisingly major disappointment.
But, more, please.