You may remember a few years ago when I did vampires for AWESOME-tober-fest 2011 that I covered a Batman vs Dracula comic by Doug Moench and Kelley Jones called Red Rain. Well, 18 years later, Moench and Jones reunited to pit Batman against another monster. The Invisible Man.
Batman Unseen was released in 2009 as a 5 issue mini-series. It seems very appropriate they got Moench and Jones to do this particular story. Especially Jones. I’m not a huge fan of Jones’ particular style when it comes to normal Batman stories. He’s all odd angles, deep shadows, giant cowl ears and ridiculous f**king capes that’s more weird than it is enjoyable. However, that style works perfectly in these off-kilter Elseworlds tales that mix Batman with the supernatural (vampires, ghosts, invisible men, etc).
The gist of the story is that The Black Mask has hired a scientist who has been fired and disgraced from his previous job to work for him. His task? Continue work on an invisibility serum and get it to work. The story follows the scientist as he works on the serum and uses himself as the guinea pig. The serum starts to work but it also drives the man insane as he constantly has to administer an overdose of the chemicals to keep the effect working for longer periods of time.
I really like how the creators have the scientist working on making each body layer invisible a bit at a time. First he makes his skin invisible, then his musculature, then his skeleton, then his organs, etc, etc. As the serum’s effectiveness (and the scientist’s insanity) progresses, he begins taking advantage of his invisibility by getting revenge on people he believes has wronged him. Batman follows the trail of dead bodies and the eye witnesses who say they only saw floating gloves or knives. Can Batman get to the scientist in time?
The story is very good. It’s also fairly violent. Batman takes a beating from the invisible scientist. Hardcore. Plus there are several graphic murders. All perfectly in tone with the story Moench (and Jones) is trying to tell. Moench also does a great job of deftly working in layers of story elements. Besides the scientist’s revenge plot, there’s a subplot about Batman losing his intimidation factor among the criminals in Gotham. It seems they’ve become used to Batman being around and they aren’t scared of him anymore. Batman is worried about this and tries to think of ways to fix it. It drives some of Batman’s motivations at the end of the comic. Very fun and atmospheric read.
Like I said, the art works perfectly for the story they are trying to tell. But damn, Kelly Jones likes his cape porn. I thought McFarlane loved to draw capes, but Jones may have him beat. Some of the panels in this comic have some of the most ridiculous Batman capes that have ever been drawn.
How would Batman get around with a cape like that? It’s absurd. And that’s just one example. Jones also likes to draw giant shish-kebob ears on the cowl. Like I said, not really my favorite but honestly, it mostly works in this book because of the subject matter and tone.
I would recommend this book, especially if you enjoyed Moench/Jones’ previous Batman and Dracula team up. It’s a cool, weird little story. But lots of fun.
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