Batman makes his return In Brian Azzarello’s final chapter of the “First Wave” series number 6. Unfortunately Batman’s role in this final chapter is minimized despite what we see on the cover where he is in the forefront alongside The Spirit and Doc Savage.
As for the “long wait” like many other books containing Batman this one was running a tad late. To be more specific, the last time I put fingers to keyboard for issue number five was December twelfth of last year. I’d like to think the wait was to finely hone the last chapter of this saga but sadly it was not. Whatever the reason, this series ends like many other series with a large cast of characters.
Like an eighties James Bond movie.
That is to say everyone gets a part, everyone gets a line and there are cliches and action set pieces galore. If that only meant for a grandiose ending we’d all be happy but as always it means a blur of explosions, gunfire, an outsized sea lizard and more “snappy” dialog.
When we last left this large collection of heroes, villains, thugs and a sea creature, Doc Savage was doing battle with a giant robot while the trussed up quartet of The Spirit, Cheng, Rima and Dr. Littlejohn were in a pit with the aforementioned sea creature ready to make a snack out of them.
How could anyone possibly get out of that predicament?
Sheer guile and natural ability of course! If any of you have read this book please take note of how it was done should you find yourself in a similar situation. Led by the Blackhawk Cheng you snap your bamboo bonds into weapons and trip your cohorts into a human ladder enabling your escape.
If you’re Doc Savage, you deduce that the robot isn’t all what it seems. In fact it is a cyborg! Rip off its face plate, ring its ears and finish with a left cross to the chops and uppercut to follow. Down goes Frazier!
The fight returns to our intrepid band of escapees where in true Dr. No fashion (oh sorry, that’s a sixties James Bond scene) the giant Sea Lizard has now escaped the pit only to turn on its keepers. Cheng and Dr. Littlejohn figure to go to the command center and disrupt the evil Colossi’s plan. But why go to the command center when it can come to you! Enter Anton Colossi in true Hugo Drax fashion (Eighties Bond!) It’s all hand on deck as Colossi sneers to his (brief) advantage and the mega set piece battle begins.
I won’t bore with all the details (hey, read the book) but you won’t be surprised to see the good guys come out on top. Best part of the sequence is when everyone holds open the mouth of the sea creature so the Doc can hurl a grenade down its gullet. A moment of silence for our dearly departed Sea Lizard, thank you.
Did Anton Colossi escape this melee’? Duh! Does Batman appear out of nowhere to save the day? Of course!
Where has this guy been anyway?! As Anton makes his escape actually yelling, “HaHaHa!” as he does it, our cowled avenger makes his overdue entrance. He captures Colossi and demands an answer on how to stop this now surfaced undersea city with a tidal wave heading its way.
I told you this was like an eighties Bond flick!
This Batman is a bit untested however and he unwisely loosens his grip allowing Colossi to pick up his sword (of course he has a sword) and slice Batman. Colossi in turn makes his way back to our intrepid band and eschewing the sword for an M16 tries to take them all out. In true Bond villain tradition he misses everyone and hears a voice behind him.
It’s Batman! This is a forties stylized Batman so he carries a gun and in true Indiana Jones fashion he shoots Anton. Good. Enough cliched evil cackle.
Oh, but we are not done with the cliches yet. As our now collected band of heroes make their escape in a handy diving-bell like escape pod in wheels Colossi’s crippled mother! She and Anton have a brief tiff and sink to the bottom together. Aww.
Fortunately the escape-pod pops up near a beach allowing everyone to survive and for Doc Savage to deliver a stirring speech. (Ha! You have to read the book to hear it.) The only thing missing is the end credits to roll up in Star Wars fashion or at least to have the good Doc’s arm wrapped around Rima’s sultry waist. That’s what James Bond would have done! But she slipped off into the jungle. I guess she doesn’t see too many movies.
Despite a dearth of Batman in this book it was ok. Yes cliched and formulaic. I suppose Azzarello had to end this adventure somehow. The artwork was good. That is to say it wasn’t overly stylized where that can be a distraction. The artwork was provided by Rags Morales as penciller ably abetted by Rick Bryant with colors and ink provided by Nei Ruffino and Phil Winslade.
I was going to rate this last issue of “First Wave” with a two out of five Bat-a-rangs. But since the overall tone of this storyline was like a Saturday afternoon movie serial I’ll give it a higher rating. Those serials were supposed to be fun and that’s all we can ask for.
There’s nothing wrong with having a little fun right?
First Wave #6:
Reviewed by Dark Knight Dave