Batman: The Blue,
the Grey & the Bat,

by Elliot S. Maggin, Alan
Weiss, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez
(DC Comics, 1992)

JLA: Justice Riders
by Chuck Dixon,
J.H. Williams III, Mick Gray
(DC Comics, 1997)

This Elseworlds tale is set in the Old West, and it captures the heroic storybook feel of so many classic westerns. The biggest problem in Justice Riders isn't the script, it's the costuming; while we can accept Diana Prince as a tough lady sheriff, it's hard to imagine a woman in that outlandish bustier and red-and-white boots (picture Wonder Woman's current costume, with the briefs replaced with Levis) in that day and age. A few other costumes seem out of place as well (as do epithets like "Great Hera").

But the story, in the tradition of Wild Wild West, mixes the personalities and society of the West with unexpected snippets of anachronistic technology, usually in the hands of the bad guys. In this case it's tycoon Maxwell Lord, who has bulldozed Diana's town of Paradise to make way for his own railroading schemes. Soon joined by the likes of the gunman Kid Flash, the shaman Katar Johnson (Hawkman), the manhunter John Jones and others, Prince rides out looking for vengeance.

A few idiosyncracies aside, Justice Riders is a fun tale for western buffs.

More successful was the earlier western adaptation of the Batman in The Blue, the Grey & the Bat. This story sends foppish Major Bruce Wayne to Nevada to secure the Union's claim on precious metals from the Comstock Lode. He (and his alter-ego, of course) employ the talents of Redbird, a 'breed with a dark past, and historical guests Samuel Clemens, Bill Hickok and Kit Carson.

The Blue, the Grey & the Bat captures the flavor of the Old West very well and, while harder to find more than a decade after its release, it's well worth scouring your local comic shops to find.

- Rambles
written by Tom Knapp
published 21 June 2003

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