DCAU #293: The Hunchback of Notre Dame

IN THIS ONE... Batman and Batgirl meet a real live gargoyle in Paris.

CREDITS: Written by Ty Templeton; art by Rick Burchett and Terry Beatty.

REVIEW:
Paris... and I appreciate seeing the creative team's credits in French... makes for a nice, if somewhat gratuitous, change of venue, but it looks Gothic thanks to its muted color palette and churchly settings. Batman going international is usually reserved for two opponents. One is Ra's al Ghul, the other is the League of Assassins. This is about the latter and Batman is intent on getting the Sensei's location (pleasantly followed up in the next issue) from one of his men, Andre Juillard.

Though a one-off, this is still a fairly interesting character who, despite his profession, is a man of faith and deathly afraid of God's judgment. It's rather shocking to see him express such ideas even as Batman and his French friend, Inspector Legere, come close to practicing "24"-level interrogation methods on him. But it's a mysterious "angel of death" that makes him break down, an avenger of the night, Paris' own Batman... the Hunchback of Notre Dame?!

A pretty cool creation actually, not quite pulled whole from Victor Hugo's novel, a dying police scientist who used Matt Hagen's Clayface formula to heal himself and was turned into a crusty stone form akin to that of a church gargoyle. Seen as a monster at first (sheesh, was Batgirl always this aggressive?), it's soon revealed he's a hero who models hims ON Batman. Practically given his credentials right there, Batgirl suggests he and Legere enter into the same kind of partnership the Bats have with Commissioner Gordon and... the adventure begins. I would have liked to see the Hunchback again, perhaps in some kind of DCAU retelling of the Batmen of All Nations story, but alas, it never happened.
IN THE MAINSTREAM COMICS: In the comics, the Batman of France was the Musketeer, and later, parkour expert Nightrunner; the Hunchback is a hero original to this comic (though of course inspired by the literary character). His alter ego, Alain Mauricet, is the name of an actual Belgian comics artist who has done work on the American side, pencilling The Crossovers, for example, and more recently some Harley Quinn books.

REREADABILITY: Medium-High - A striking new hero rises in one of the most Gothic stories the DCAU has yet offered.  Too bad it didn't lead to anything.

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