Julian's Reviews > Batman: Vampire

Batman by Doug Moench
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Aug 08, 12

bookshelves: comic-books, batman
Read in January, 2012

** spoiler alert ** Batman: Vampire contains all three Elseworlds stories written by Doug Moench detailing Batman's activities as a vampire. There are 3 stories here: Red Rain, Bloodstorm and Crimson Mist. Red Rain alone, used, on Amazon is around $12. Batman: Vampire collects all three stories for a similar price which makes it a very good deal. I'll be rating the stories individually since they were originally printed, and written, that way.

Red Rain:
In Red Rain a woman named Tanya (a “good vampire” who is hunting Dracula and his minions) has invented a serum so that she and her team of vampire friends don't have to prey upon humans. This would have been a cool plot point but the Blade films (the first of which came out 7 years after Red Rain was written) ruined it for me since he too survives on a serum to stave off preying upon humans. Anyone who has played Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver will notice that Batman ends up sprouting wings that look almost identical to Raziel's (in Red Rain vampires are also capable of “evolving”). This is another cool element that was adopted in a different medium almost 8 years after the original. Red Rain has obviously had an impact on later vampire stories across multiple mediums which is a testament to its inventiveness. It's not Red Rain's fault that all of these stories grabbed these things and adopted them into their own storylines. It does, however, lessen some of the suprise-factor that Red Rain would have had upon its initial publication in 1991. After I finished the book I did wonder why Bruce wasn't a little more freaked out when Tanya turned him into a vampire without his consent. I get that he had a minor philosophical discussion about choosing between good and evil, but shouldn't he be angry about not being asked in the first place? This is Batman after all, couldn't he have found out a way to combat the vampires with gadgets and science instead of giving up and accepting the fact that he has to become a monster to fight a monster? I did like it when he stated “Bruce Wayne may be gone...but the Batman will go on...forever.” that was an awesome idea (I just wish it didn't gloss over the reasoning that led to his decision). The dialogue can get a little awkward: Alfred utters a Darth Vader-like “Nooooooo!” and earlier Batman says “They sacrificed their existences.” (yes, we get that they're vampires and they're not “alive”). These are tiny issues though, Red Rain went along at exactly the right pace to remain interesting and exciting. This book is full of cool ideas and recurring themes including the “red rain” itself (ie. acid rain) that is continually eating Gotham away (paralleling what happens to Bruce himself and Gotham as a whole as this series continues). Red Rain contains great ideas that have been appropriated into other vampire stories ever since its first publication and is an entertaining read for Batman and vampire fans alike.
4 stars.

Bloodstorm:
Gosh this was bad. At one point a vampire named Creach (the Joker's new lieutenant) is running after Selina Kyle. During this encounter Creach, in the form of a wolf, bites Kyle which causes her to turn into a were-cat (yes, I said a were-cat) a few days later. This makes absolutely no sense in the overall story because vampires are running around biting humans all the time to increase their numbers and there aren't any other were-creatures. Why is Selina Kyle's transformation different than any other character's? What is the relation between were-creatures and vampires since the sun and other things don't affect Kyle? Why has Tanya's serum (which apparently worked for a long time, maybe even hundreds of years) stopped working for Batman so soon? It's also revealed in the last few pages that Batman is immune to common vampire foils (crosses, holy water, etc) because he hasn't consumed human blood. Oh, but sunlight hurts him. All of these inconsistencies are only revealed to further the story (Kyle's transformation into a literal “catwoman”, Batman's blood addiction worsening and Batman overcoming Joker's final trap) there is no explanation for the inclusion of any of these events (beyond some “huh, that's weird”s from the characters). I know that Bloodstorm is about vampires and superheroes, neither of which are real, but this story doesn't function under its own rules or the rules that it adopts into its mythos. Bloodstorm contradicts itself when it's convenient to contradict itself and for no other reason (at least no reasons that are given).
2 stars.

Crimson Mist:
I thought this was an excellent ending to the story. As Eric Lustbader writes in the introduction to Red Rain: “Bruce Wayne's original mandate was nothing less than to strike terror in the hearts of all criminals.” That's why I found these stories to be so intriguing in the first place: Batman is let loose to actually terrify the villains. In Crimson Mist this is taken to an extreme when Batman, driven insane because he's been “dead” for years (at the end of Bloodstorm Alfred and Gordon impale him without taking his head, resulting in a sort of vampire-stasis) Batman wakes up and butchers the rogues gallery going so far as to string their heads outside of the Gotham penitentiary. This is Batman striking terror in his enemies without any moral qualms – all made necessary because he is now forced to consume blood. The way that this story was continued from Bloodstorm was excellent: Batman's usual foes are taking over the city in his absence, Gordon and Alfred find themselves forced to resurrect the monster and pray he will be the same. But he isn't Bruce anymore, nor is he Batman. Some people have used this as a criticism – but I found it to be what made these stories, on the whole, interesting in the first place. This collection takes Batman's goals and slowly warps them as the novels progress (without reflecting them onto other characters like Scarecrow or Joker) and pushes them back into Batman himself. Overall Crimson Mist does a great job of wrapping up what was started in the first two novels and provides a satisfying conclusion to the series.
3 stars.
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