Back in May I wrote a post about my favorite Batman story, Year One. It is without a doubt one of the best loved Batman stories of all time.
My second favorite Batman story is probably a lot less known. When I returned to the wonderful world of comics after my 10 year hiatus, I found that a lot of my favorite Silver Age artists were gone or not producing nearly as much work any more. One of my favorite discoveries after my return was a series called Gotham Central. Which introduced me to one Michael Lark. Now I loved this series! I found Larks approach refreshing yet somewhat familiar. His ability to tell a story within the story drew me to his work as both an artist and a comics fan. His ability to make a very “talky” story interesting , even if it was two people having a conversation most of the time , reminded me of Gene Colan. Not in style at all but in substance.
Now the Batman story I am talking about in this post is a hardcover graphic novel called “The Batman in Nine Lives.” It is an excellent yarn that is magnificently written by Dean Motter with the full artwork by Michael Lark and colours by Matt Hollingsworth.
If you are not familiar with the Elseworlds books that DC occasionally publishes, it is described as ” In Elseworlds, super-heroes are taken from their usual settings and put into strange times and places – some that have existed, and others that can’t, couldn’t or shouldn’t exist. The result is stories that make characters who are as familiar as yesterday seem as fresh as tomorrow.”
Nine Lives takes place in what looks like the 1930’s or 1940’s.The narrative that Dean Motter uses in this book is decidedly hard-boiled detective fiction, that would have been very familiar in the Pulps of the 30’s and 40’s.
Michael Larks artwork reminds me very much of David Mazzucchelli’s approach to the character. All of your favorite characters are here…with a twist. Selena Kyle, Dick Grayson, Barbara Gordon, the Commissioner, Riddler, Penguin, Harvey Dent and so on, but all with a delightful twist as well as that ring of familiarity.
I love this book! The story is 116 pages long and is published in a “landscape” format. It has since its original publication been published in soft cover as well.
I picked up a few pages of original artwork from this book a few years back and have enclosed them here. If you are interested in any Michael Lark original artwork, check out Splash Page Art.
Great people to deal with and reasonably priced artwork from all of the various projects Michael has been involved with.
With Fan Expo less than 2 weeks away, it probably would be a great book to put on your list of must haves.
Got this one It’s a classic. Even if collectors don’t know it.
Lets hope that at least a few people seek this out Tom. For me , it ranks up near the top of must have books. After having a few pages of original artwork from this story, I would love to see the Artists Edition treatment!