DCAU #112: In Memoriam / The Book of Memory / The Last Batman Adventure

IN THIS ONE... Hugo Strange's memory experiments erase all but the memory of his son's murder, while Catwoman capitalizes on Batman's amnesia to turn him into her own personal Cat-Man. (Three-parter)

CREDITS: Written by Kelly Puckett and Ty Templeton; art by Mike Parobeck and Rick Burchett.

REVIEW: This story is the longest yet for Batman Adventures and it's also the series' last before it changes titles and starts over. They make it a three-hander between Hugo Strange, Catwoman and Batman, and there are no real villains here, not really. It's not just a matter of using the characters in the story, but of exploring their unique tragedies in a meaningful way. Impressive.

Hugo Strange starts out as a tormented villain, but we soon learn his son died the year before, killed by one of Rupert Thorne's goons, and he's been trying to wipe his memory of it. His experiments backfired and now all that's left is that memory. He sees his son David everywhere, every face is his, and every disagreement he has is with the young man's killer. Strange is made as sympathetic as Mr. Freeze, perhaps more so, because his condition is a tragic metaphor for being consumed by tragedy. You may well think of your lost loved one every moment, recognize them in other people. It's sad.

Batman ironically gets what Strange seeks - he loses the memory of the tragedy that defines him (and all memories that followed it). This Batman is happy-go-lucky and loves adventures, but he's also careless and childish. They take it a step too far, really. They revert him to the age he had when his parents were killed, where the story would have worked just as well had he just been an alternative Bruce Wayne, dilettante millionaire playboy. Thankfully, he doesn't go kissy-face with Catwoman while in this state. Getting his memories back makes him flip out, naturally, a strong moment.

Catwoman's tragedy isn't quite as intense. Hers is that she can't be with Batman, whom she loves. We see her attempts at seducing him, but the fact she's on the wrong side of the law will forever make that impossible. His memory loss creates an opportunity and she turns him into "Cat-Man", convincing him he's always been her partner in crime. That he's been turned into a child is perhaps indicative of the kind of "play dates" she's after. It's not a mature relationship. And in the end, he calls her a liar and leaves angry; it can't ever work because even in this, she's dishonest. Having shown her hand, she can actually be glad Batman resets and forgets all about it.
IN THE MAINSTREAM COMICS: I've never heard of Hugo Strange having a son in the comics. Batman here becomes "Cat-Man", but has really nothing to do with DC's actual Cat-Man, a minor Batman villain who gained prominence later as a member of the Secret Six.

REREADABILITY: Medium-High - A story that delves under the surface of not one but three characters; my gripe with it is minor.


American Hawkman said...

Strange's son HAS appeared in the New52. He's named Eli and has partnered with Catwoman.

Siskoid said...

Thanks! I didn't know that!


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