Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Batman: False Faces Review (Brian K. Vaughan, Scott McDaniel)


Besides Batman, Bruce Wayne has another alter-ego: Matches Malone, a sleazy gangland informant. In False Faces, Bruce receives a baffling call from Oracle: Matches Malone has been shot in a downtown Gotham bar! Say whuuuut!? 

Brian K. Vaughan’s Batman comics aren’t half bad though unfortunately the book starts with the best stuff and get progressively worse from there.

I’ve always liked Matches Malone and Vaughan’s origin of how Bruce came by the persona was pretty compelling and the conundrum of how one of Bruce’s characters seemingly came to life by itself was intriguing. Vaughan goes a bit too far at the end in suggesting Bruce is almost consumed by Matches’ identity (I feel like his mind is stronger than that) but otherwise it was a solid tale.

The Mad Hatter issue was very average. Yet another aspect of Lewis Carroll’s fiction is realised in Gotham – I’ve never understood why Alice in Wonderland came to feature so heavily in Batman – and the Dark Knight must battle the Jabberwock. Guess who wins? Snoozer-snack. 

Though Batman’s not in them, I’m guessing the two Wonder Woman issues were included partly because they feature one of Batman’s rogues, Clayface, and partly because they were written by Vaughan and tie-in to the book’s identity theme. It’s a very formulaic superhero-fights-supervillain story - I was even less interested in these issues than I was the Mad Hatter one. The book closes out with the an unmemorable and tedious short story on an obscure villain imaginatively called The Skeleton, again hitting the identity theme.

The cartoony art styles of Scott McDaniel, Rick Burchett and Scott Kolins combined with Vaughan’s accessible, safe and done-in-one writing made me think of this book as a collection of decent would-be episodes from the Batman Animated Series. Though it’s not too impressive and the stories’ quality is uneven, you could do worse than False Faces for a Batman book – it’s an ok read and worth a look if you’re a fan of Matches Malone like me.

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