Monday, August 19, 2013

Batman vs. Aliens

I want to preface this by saying that I found these comic books at a sale price.

Crossovers are big in the comic book industry.  Personally, I like the idea of mashing up different characters from seemingly disparate mythos.  Or perhaps they are so similar or opposite that it would be an interesting "what if" to imagine them interacting.  Sadly, it is seldom that such stories are executed well.

Then there's your typical fanboy hypothetical of "Who would win in a fight between (fill in the blank.)"  A tedious prospect to say the least.  Nevertheless, when the first Aliens vs. Predator miniseries was released in 1990, I lapped it up.  If I knew then that my monetary contribution would support an endless, uninspired, juvenile glut of "Predator versus" and "Aliens versus" I might have acted differently.

Despite that, I found Batman vs. Aliens and Batman vs. Aliens II in a used bookstore and gave them a try.  The premise intrigued me a bit.  Against the aliens (and by that I refer to the Sigourney Weaver variety from the original films Alien and Aliens), Batman should be way outclassed.  He would really only have his wits to protect him.  Plus both copies were priced supercheap and I figured "why not?"  I'll give you a quick rundown of each storyline.

In Batman vs Aliens, Batman heads to an area on the border between Guatemala and Mexico to search for a Wayne Enterprises geologist who has gone missing.  Once there, Batman encounters a special ops team who have found a crashed spaceship.  The wreck guessed it...aliens.  Isolated in the jungle, Batman and the others are forced to fight on their own to prevent the spread of an alien swarm.

Better in concept is the sequel.  This one starts out in 1927 when explorers find an odd and ancient structure frozen in Alaskan ice.  Contained within it are...yeah, you're catching on fast...the xenomorphs.  Only one person from the expedition survives the onslaught of aliens.  He returns home to Gotham City with a sample of one of the creatures and locks himself in a lab to study it.
Fast forward to present day.  A construction crew demolishes a building and finds the long-forgotten lab in a basement level.  The explorer is long dead, his chest having burst wide open.  A scientist from the army arrives and begins a a strange experiment: combing alien DNA with that of supercriminals in Arkham Asylum.  That means producing "alien" versions of versions of Scarecrow, Two-Face, and of course The Joker as well as a few others.

Each storyline has its ups and downs.  The first is the tired scenario we've seen so many times in both the movie and comic book incarnations of these alien creatures.  "Oh no!  We're done stuck here by ourselves, brought together by the od force even though we hate each other and now these things want to kill us!"  This occurs in tandem with forced and contrived dialogue.  On the plus side, there's art by Bernie Wrightson and a bit of ingenuity on the part of Batman.
For the sequel, I was drawn in right away by the "adventurers and explorers in the early 20th Century" opening as well as having Batman face the aliens on his home turf of Gotham.  I also liked the moment when Batman realizes he's up against aliens again.  The idea of "weaponizing Arkham," however, is one that I just find gimmicky and tough to swallow.

So there you have it.  Read or avoid as according to your tastes.

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