DCAU #78: Puglic Enemy

IN THIS ONE... Robin thinks about leaving university and fights the Ventriloquist.

CREDITS: Written by Kelley Puckett; art by Mike Parobeck and Rick Burchett.

REVIEW: Another Batman-lite issue, and it looks like there are more to come, which I find perfectly acceptable, welcome even. The comic is perfect for telling side-stories starring members of Batman's supporting cast, in this case Robin (while Batman is away on Ra's-related business, but not sure what exactly). Sadly, I'm kind of disappointed with the issue despite it featuring one of my favorite Batman villains, the Ventriloquist.

For one thing, the comic is a little obsessed with using Scarface's speech impediment (see In the Mainstream Comics), making it a part of the title and subtitles, becoming a recurring gags, and even finding an in-story reason for it to be there in contradiction of the TV series. There are a number of fun and amusing moments with the character, but we spend way too much time on this one element.

My other problem is that the story isn't clear. From a pure action point of view, the final explosion that claims Scarface's life (again) isn't presented with enough time for Robin to save the Ventriloquist like he does. Robin's arc feels equally undercut, choosing to return to university after declaring he might quit and be Robin full time for... well, no real reason. Yes, Alfred has a talk with him early on, but there's nothing in the Ventriloquist case that would have pushed Robin to heed Alfred's words. So it just sort of happens. Reminds me of Barbara's rejection of the Batgirl identity in issue #12. Same deal. Puckett needs to spend more time on motivations and perhaps cut out a page or two of punching if he's going to do these kinds of stories. When Bruce asks "did I miss something?", he's not the only one registering confusion.
IN THE MAINSTREAM COMICS: The story adopts Scarface's speech impediment from the comics ("G" for "B"), even though the TV series did not; it's actually explained that he got his lips ripped out in the joint. The comic features what I believe is the first appearance of the mechanical dinosaur in the Batcave in the DCAU (from Batman #35, 1946). Alfred's story about having been an actor is straight from the comics as well.

REREADABILITY: Medium-Low - Great characters set up to have an amazing "episode" together, but it all comes to naught. Disappointing.

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