Bat and Switch

As I'm sure basically nobody noticed, I haven't done any weekly reviews for the last couple of weeks. June seems to be a pretty by-the-books month as far as the comics that I'm buying is concerned - the good series are maintaining their goodness and the less-good series aren't driving me to the heights of nerd-rage necessary for a tirade. 

I did, however, pick up Batman No. 700 this week. I'd passed on buying it last week out of despair over missing the Mike Mignola variant cover (not only is Mignola the only person to ever make me care about variant covers, he's the only person to inspire true collector's lust in my breast. I will someday track down all Mignola covers, this I swear). Good ol' Dave worked some magic, though, and now I have this beauty:

After a week of reviews of the thing, I was expecting some sort of explosive mess, but what I found was a pretty danged enjoyable Batman yarn. Granted, it suffered the common Morrison comic problem of having 1.5 to 2 comic worth of plot and ideas crammed into a single issue, compounded by the slightly galling pinup section - not that the pinups weren't great, but a little more story space or even a couple extra future Batmen (Batmaniacs? Batman Year 100?) would have been great.

But this isn't really a review of that comic. No, it's merely an elaborate segue. And not a very good one, either, because it's based on the fact that I read a review that critiqued the plot of Batman 700 and maybe called into question just how much sense some aspects of it made. And even though I can no longer find or remember where I read that review, I'm still going to respond to it by taking a look at the Batman story in Detective Comics No. 422, and a plot element that blows reason completely out of the water.

The story in question is set during the period in which Robin has gone off to college and Bruce Wayne has left his stuffy old manor and its associated cave for the hurly-burly life of downtown Gotham. We find him relaxing in his penthouse apartment, when suddenly a plot hook in the shape of a trucker comes bursting in:

Despite the guy's general craziness, Bruce elects to look into this and other truck disappearances. Possibly because he owns a lot of stock in the company, but probably not. Probably. He finds some truckers, beats them up and gets a quick crash course in the art of the long haul.

Trucker Batman reasons that the missing men were drugged somehow and abducted under the cover of their hallucinations. He dons a truly majestic outfit and starts hitting likely spots:

... and hopefully hasn't been stopping at a lot of places, because he acts like a total dick.

It's considered polite to find a potted plant, Bruce.

Batman hits the road, starts hallucinating - that's right, the fact that he was completely wrong about the coffee just adds insult to injury - shakes off the effects and finds out how the trucks have been disappearing:

And here's the first of two very strange things about this comic. The reason that these trucks were stolen and sunk at sea, at presumably great expense and via a complicated plot?


You heard the man: his trucks were manufactured with a defective break line and rather than issue a recall he chose to commit multiple acts of murder-by-proxy. I want you to pay attention to this, everyone who was complaining about Toyota a couple of months ago. I'll bet you'd have cut them more slack if you'd known that they had rejected the option of drugging everyone who had a defective car and then dumping them in the ocean via helicopter, eh?

Strange/insane as the reason for this crime is, it's actually one of the means by which it was committed that I want to point out. Specifically, the drugging. Batman didn't partake of the coffee, so exactly how were he and the truckers doped up?


Drugged soap. Drugged soap. The entire plan hinged on truckers washing their hands after using the washroom.  

Never has my suspension of disbelief been more tested. My father is a former trucker, and, well, let's just say that he wouldn't have enjoyed the Doors any more than usual after visiting this diner. This is the most utterly unreal panel in any comic, ever.