To See or Not to See?

That is the question asked in the five-issue Batman: Unseen miniseries, which is now easily available in a convenient trade paperback.


Batman: Unseen Trade Paperback Cover
Batman: Unseen Trade Paperback


Actually it’s more a question of “Who would win in a fight, Batman or the Invisible Man?”(Funny story about that type of scenario, but I’ll get to that later.) And I hardly think it’s a spoiler to say Batman wins. I mean, seriously, he’s Batman. Maybe Superman could best him, and there is the aforementioned story that I’ll get to later, but all in all Batman has a pretty impressive chance of survival against most any adversary.

Ok, so it’s kind of a corny idea, just like Batman vs. Dracula (been done, by the way), or some other similar story (anyone else wondering if there’s a Wolverine vs. the Wolfman out there?). But as usual, the brilliant minds at DC managed to pull it off. And in a very intriguing manner might I add. Perhaps in keeping with the “retro” trend (the original issues were published as far back as 2007, if not further, if i read the copyright correctly), the comic itself was drawn in a rather “old-school” superhero comic style (which is why I checked the copyright page to being with). For one, this adds the credibility of the story; old things have a tendency to be associated with an insatiable curiosity with science, and science of the darkest kind — invisibility potions, sewn-up corpses being reanimated, time travel… the list goes on. And of course, there’s the semi-traditional Batman monologues told in those somewhat annoying yellow boxes in the corners and sometimes middles of panels. But the monologue is crucial to knowing what’s going on in the story. Batman is generally the only one who really has any clue, and knowing what he’s thinking helps you have a clue too. Thus making it easier to follow the story. Being confused was one of the problems I had when I first read one of my favorite Batman graphic novels, Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, which I’ll probably talk about sometime later on this blog. It deserves it’s own post.

The only real criticism I have of Unseen is the ridiculously blatant moral; yes, generally all Batman stories have a psychological element and some sort of subtle moral-ish message. But Unseen practically beats you over the head with the idea of “Don’t submit to temptation!!” And in fact, I didn’t even pick up on that idea as the underlying theme until later; it was so blatant that I glossed over it completely in search of some deep philosophical advice. I must have forgotten that this wasn’t written by Alan Moore or Grant Morrison. The story was good, but it didn’t feel quite as much like a Batman story as some of the other ones I’ve read have. In fact I felt like it focused more on the lunatic than on the Caped Crusader. Say what you may but when I read a superhero comic, I want to see the superhero.

Overall, my advice? I’d say Unseen is worth a look, but do your research and get it cheaper than list price; unless you really love ostentatious morals or paying exorbitant amounts for your comics, you’d do better to save some money. Extra cash and a good story to read never hurt anyone.

Almost forgot the story. I was in my comic shop, and there were a couple of stereotypical nerd guys around, and one turns to his friends and asks “Who would win in a fight, Batman or Darth Vader?” I’m pretty sure I remember someone saying Batman, but I clearly remember another saying “Darth Vader! He’d do that choke thing!!” I was appalled. If you’re going to stand in a comic shop and talk about Star Wars, at least know that it’s called a Force Choke! It was the one moment in my life where I was actually embarrassed to consider myself a nerd. It’s people like that that give people like me a bad reputation.

And as I realized later, that guy would do well not to say “that choke thing” around a girl. He’ll probably have a hard enough time getting a girlfriend, but if “that choke thing” comes up, she might thing “auto-erotic asphyxiation” and get freaked. I know I would. If I were a girl, that is.


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