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Works by Sergio Cariello

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The Action Bible (2010) — Illustrator — 1,320 copies

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Access a version of the below that includes illustrations on my blog.

This collects a 1997 miniseries called Batman/Wildcat by Chuck Dixon, Beau Smith, and Sergio Cariello, an 1998 mini by the same creative team, and five issues of The Brave and the Bold from the 1970s where Batman teams up with Wildcat. I picked up the collection to learn more about Wildcat, especially his history with Selina Kyle.

Batman/Wildcat is fine. Like many Wildcat stories, it has to contrive some way to be about boxing. In this case, it's that old standby: the forced fight. Criminals are kidnapping people, mostly supervillains, and forcing them to fight each other on a super-secret pay-per-view channel (hey, it was the '90s). A mentee of Wildcat's get scooped up in it, though, and is forced to duke it out in a Wildcat costume, and so Batman and Wildcat run parallel investigations, then get kidnapped and forced to fight, and of course team up to dismantle the entire operation. I could probably go the rest of my life without reading another story where superheroes are forced to fight so rich people can gamble on it, to be honest; there's nothing about that premise that's ever interesting. What beggars belief is the bad guys don't even take Batman's and Wildcat's masks off to find out who they are; indeed, they put extra masks on them so they can't see who they're fighting! I think the story would have also benefited from making Ted's status quo clearer; at the end, he comes out of retirement to go back to fighting crime as Wildcat, but that was the moment I learned he was in retirement to begin with! (This would be set after the Justice Society falls apart in Zero Hour, before it reunites in Justice Be Done.)

The follow-up, Catwoman/Wildcat, is a bit better. Catwoman travels to Las Vegas to carry out a heist where, coincidentally, Ted Grant is in some kind of exhibition match. The heist, honestly, was very confusing. Selina's competing with like two other groups of criminals and there's a lot of double-crossing, and a lot of characters I didn't care about. What was consistently fun was the flirting between Selina and Ted. Selina knows who she is dealing with right away, but it takes most of the story for Ted to figure out who she is (there's a brief flashback to Her Sister's Keeper, despite Catwoman: Year 2's implication it didn't count), and so he doesn't get why this attractive younger woman is coming on to him. Whenever the story focuses on the antics of the two of them it is fun; whenever it focuses on the other characters, I hoped it would get back to Ted and Selina. Thankfully boxing has little to do with it.

Both stories are pencilled by Sergio Cariello who has a... I guess I would say perfectly adequate 1990s style. It's not my jam, and I think he draws Selina/Catwoman a bit weird, but it's a good artistic fit for Chuck Dixon's over-the-top action-focused style of writing.

The five stories from The Brave and the Bold run the gamut. Each has to have some weird reason for Batman to pull Wildcat into the case; some are more compelling than others. The first, "Count Ten... and Die!" is probably the best. Bruce Wayne is coaching the American team in the World Youth Games in fencing, while Ted Grant is coaching the boxing team. Ted is heckled by the coach of the Russian team, but then also there's a lot of stuff about a spy and needing to transfer a secret tape. Boxing is worked in pretty organically here, and it has its moments, even if it can get a bit contrived. (At one point, Ted Grant sneaks out of a boxing match he is participating in to track Batman to a river in the countryside, rescues Batman from kidnappers after a pitched battle, and returns, all while forcibly dragging his opponent with him... and no one notices this because the lights are out!) I thought the culmination of Ted being goaded was going to be him rising above it, but Batman points out that if Ted Grant doesn't wallop this Russian guy, America may as well give up the Cold War, so Ted punches his lights out for patriotism.

A couple feel like they could have been about any character, and Ted is barely even in them: in "The Smile of Choclotan!" he's mostly in a trance, in "A Very Special Spy!" Ted is for some reason an exec at an energy firm, and in "Dead Man's Quadrangle" he's running a health spa in the Caribbean. I guess post-JSA he made a run a lot of different businesses?

I was able to embrace the goofiness in "May the Best Man Win Die!" In this, Wildcat does an exhibition boxing match at a Gotham prison... only the guy he fights is a potential witness against the Joker, and the Joker uses the opportunity to infect Wildcat's opponent with a rare tropical illness, and soon the whole prison is in danger. A biologist brings a dog in whose blood he's incubated antibodies to Gotham, but the dog is stolen by the Joker, then it escapes from the Joker, and so Batman, Wildcat, and the Joker are all searching Gotham for a dog who has the key to hundreds of lives. So wacky you've got to love it! I even didn't mind the obligatory Batman/Wildcat slugfest, because it's really just an opportunity for the Joker to infect them with the disease too.

Bob Haney is certainly a wacky writer. In "May the Best Man Die!", Batman goes to the Gotham pound to pick up the dog, but is told someone claiming to be the dog's owner already picked it up... a weird guy with green hair! Like, how could you live in Gotham and see a guy with green hair and not think, "Hmmm... is that the Joker!?" In "Dead Man's Quadrangle," Batman travels to the Caribbean via a commercial flight... in costume! There he is just chilling in first class; the guy seated next to him just casually chatting him up. In the 1970s was airport security so lax? Or does Batman get an exemption? And is a Batsuit really comfortable clothing for a long flight?

The Justice Society and Earth-Two: « Previous in sequence | Next in sequence »
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Stevil2001 | Jun 7, 2023 |
 
Flagged
MenoraChurch | Jan 24, 2023 |
I wish I'd known about this book when I did my big readthrough of Green Arrow tales, because it's much more Green Arrow and Green Lantern's tale than it is Batman's. This collects two stories: the first, "Peacemakers," is about the first meeting between Green Arrow and Green Lantern, while the second, "The Arrow and the Bat," unites the two with Batman.

That said, it's not very good. I feel like the later you are in Denny O'Neil's career, the worse his writing is, and this book is no exception. It's jumpy, characters don't (re)act realistically, the conspiracies are too complicated to make sense, it's bloodier than a mainstream DC superhero story ought to be, and it doesn't even get basic points of continuity right. Oliver seems to have lost his fortune already, but he hasn't even joined the Justice League yet because there is no Justice League yet. And it was O'Neil who wrote the story where Oliver lost his fortune, set well into his tenure on the League! What's the point of writing a tale to tick off a continuity box if you get the continuity wrong? None, as far as I can tell, because this is a disappointing and uninteresting book.

Batman "Year One" Stories: « Previous in sequence | Next in sequence »
Green Arrow: « Previous in sequence | Next in sequence »
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Stevil2001 | 1 other review | Sep 25, 2015 |
The Action Bible Easter Story presents the narrative of Christ’s death and resurrection in the form of a comic book, perfect for parents and children to share before Easter. The visuals are bright and fun, giving exactly what the title promises. And the action hero, Jesus, follows the well-known Biblical path, with genuine action, fine modern dialog, and appropriate pain. Making the Bible relevant to kids can be hard, and this book does it well.
Disclosure: I was lucky enough to find this when it was free.… (more)
 
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SheilaDeeth | Mar 5, 2014 |

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