Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Recently Read: Bat Lash: Guns and Roses

First appearing in the late '60s as a wandering, Candide-like pacifist and lover (but also
a crack shot, of course), Bat Lash was DC's attempt to update the western comic for the
counter culture audience. Created by Carmine Infantino and Sergio Aragones, the short-lived series was better than it could have been and created a small but loyal following.

Forty years later (perhaps in order to use and retain the trademark), DC published a new
Bat Lash miniseries, Guns and Roses, with plot by Aragones, script by western novelist
Peter Brandvold and art by veteran John Severin, nearly ninety; it was one of his last
published works.

The series, collected in trade paperback, is fun and suspenseful, with old-fashioned
narrow escapes, delicious villains and plot twists and turns. It's a prequel; the origin of
Bat Lash. The characterization doesn't really jibe with the later Bat Lash we know, but
the story works anyway. I was a bit disappointed that Peter Brandvold seemed to be writing
down to the medium a bit; an author who makes a living writing novels should invest into
the comic medium the same sense of depth and characterization a good novel contains.

Where Guns and Roses excels, though, is in John Severin's mind-blowingly detailed and
researched art. Every panel is wrought with hand-crafted care. It's some of the best work
of his career, an achievement more beautifully accomplished than that of cartoonists a
fourth of his age. For that reason alone, I recommend Guns and Roses.
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Rick Brooks said...

Michael -

I couldn't agree with you more about Severin's artwork. It is beautiful. As for the writing, I agree that Brandvold was 'writing down to the medium'. The story was bloated and filled with western tropes. Sergio Aragones, Denny O'Neil, Mike Sekowsky, and Nick Cardy had already created a great Bat Lash 'origin' which I think is one of the most beautiful single issues of a comic book I've ever read. That's right - a single issue to tell the story, not six issues.

Michael N. said...

What issue was that, Rick? It's been a long time, so I want to make sure I've read that.

Rick Brooks said...

Michael - It's Bat Lash #6. Sekowsky and Cardy seem like an unlikely art team, but the results are amazing. I'm not sure who the colorist was, but the colors were beautiful as well.

Michael N. said...

Good to know, Rick. When I was a kid I didn't care for Sekowsky at all, but of course I love him now.