Just Imagine
Stan Lee's Batman

Stan Lee, writer,
Joe Kubert, artist
(DC Comics, 2001)

The idea is an intriguing one, but the media blitz that surrounded Stan Lee's cameo appearances in the DC Universe didn't really rope me in. Sure, Lee is largely responsible for creating the famous Marvel heroes, but still, seeing his one-shot reinventions of DC characters in his own mold didn't sound like riveting reading.

Curiosity drove me to pick up one book from the series -- the first one released, Batman. And, while it's an interesting book, it didn't persuade me to follow through with the rest of the series.

Say goodbye to Bruce Wayne, orphan and billionaire playboy. Lee's Batman has his humble beginnings as Wayne Williams, a stockboy in a small Los Angeles grocery and the son of a recently murdered cop. Williams plays hero and saves the life of a criminal kingpin's moll, but pays the price for making the bad guy look like a coward. He's set up, convicted of a crime he didn't commit and sent to jail.

From there, things go just a little too right for Williams. The 90-pound weakling beefs up in prison, becoming the strongest man there. He befriends a brilliant scientist who happens to be in the neighboring cell, and he adopts a wayward bat who flies through his window looking for scraps. He becomes a hero during a prison riot, gets a pardon and becomes a fast millionaire on the wrestling circuit (shades of Spider-Man's early days, if things had gone a little differently for him) -- all part of Williams' plan for revenge on that guy who done him wrong.

It's not a bad story, but it's fairly predictable. I recommend it only for Batman and Stan Lee completists.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 30 December 2001

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