Batman: The Chalice
Chuck Dixon, writer,
John Van Fleet, artist
(DC Comics, 1999)

I nearly always enjoy the craftmanship of writer Chuck Dixon, and his development in DC's Batverse over recent years has been extraordinary. He stumbled, however, while penning the graphic novel The Chalice.

Bruce Wayne, we learn, is not only the Batman. He is also descended from a Grail knight of King Arthur's day, and so today, in modern Gotham City, the Holy Grail is passed into his keeping. Already, you know the story is going to be silly, right?

Batman's foes and various seekers of the Grail immediately realize the object is in Wayne's possession, and soon he is being assaulted on all sides by the likes of the Penguin, Catwoman, Ra's al Ghul and others. While Batman fights them on the streets and rooftops, loyal Alfred defends Wayne Manor with his trusty shotgun and the aid of an unexpected ally. Meanwhile, Barbara "Batgirl" Gordon refuses to let her crippled spine be healed by the miraculous artifact because she won't believe it's real.

Oh, and the final resolution to the struggle is entirely unsatisfactory.

Dixon remains a consummate storyteller, but this story is flawed from the start. Perhaps it would have worked better in DC's Elseworlds line, but I doubt it.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 13 April 2002

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