Batman: Gotham County Line
by Steve Niles, Scott Hampton (DC Comics, 2006)

I like what Steve Niles has done with vampires over at IDW. He's redefined a tired horror cliche into something new that, while I doubt it will ever replace the majority view of vampires, has injected some new life into the genre. So, when he had a chance to work with A-list character Batman over at DC, who'd he bring to the party?


OK, so maybe Niles is stuck in an undead rut, but if he can give us some solid Batman storytelling, it's all good. Right? We'll never know, with Gotham County Line as the evidence, 'cause this book is crap.

I don't use the "crap" label lightly, reserving it for reviews where the word is truly apropos, but believe me, it serves its purpose here. I mean, let's start off by noting that Batman wings around Gotham's suburbs on a wee jetpack, and already you know this is going to be bad.

In a brief introductory cameo appearance, the Joker reveals his knowledge of the death of Batman's parents -- but Batman doesn't seem concerned or surprised to learn his arch-foe has figured out his secret identity, so I guess the rest of us shouldn't worry, either. Then, back home in the Batcave, Bruce Wayne relaxes in a bubble bath while instructing faithful Alfred to research the "facts" of the afterlife on the Internet. What?! The facts? All right, let's assume Batman took a heavy blow to the head and let that one pass, too.

Then it's off to the 'burbs to lend a hand on a serial murder case, and Batman gets his clock cleaned by a single overweight cop. Sigh. And then the zombies show up.

Hey, if the dead are rising, what do you want to bet Bruce has to face the specters of his murdered parents, and maybe even his slain sidekick, Jason "Robin No. 2" Todd? Odds are pretty good.

Look, I already told you Gotham County Line is crap. I'm already tired of talking about it. I need to cleanse my mental palate. So if you're a Niles loyalist, by all means get a copy and enjoy it. Otherwise, look for something with some depth and even a shred of entertainment value.

review by
Tom Knapp

2 August 2008

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