Tuesday, September 01, 2015

"The Past is a Foreign Country." So are old quarterbooks!


This is a book I know I have more than one of, but it's such a weird classic I don't mind picking up another: from 1991, Detective Comics #629, "The Hungry Grass!" Written by Peter Milligan, pencils by Jim Aparo, inks by Steve Leialoha. (Oddly, and I don't think it's related, but Milligan used the same title in Hellblazer #295!) And a Michael Golden cover!

Gotham City is under siege, by someone calling himself "Hungry," who has been making bizarre demands of the populace: "Red hats, shirts worn inside out, compulsory carrying of pornographic books..." And Hungry has backed up his threats, with over thirty mysterious deaths. The killings seem random, caused by seeming ghosts, appearing in the location of previous deaths; or victims forced to relive past crimes that occurred on the same spot.

Batman calls out Hungry, who calls him out to the decommissioned Blackgate Prison. (This was actually Blackgate's first appearance, and it was closed! Which seems kind of hard to believe, with Gotham so crime infested.) Hungry had been a prisoner there, but claimed he had been innocent, and calls Batman "a bent cop in Bat's clothing." Batman is confronted by the ghosts of past beatings, junkie cravings, and a suicide by hanging...all caused by mysterious grass clippings from Ireland.

It may seem odd to some now, but the mystery this issue is supernatural and makes no apologies for it: Batman may not understand the why of it, but quickly figures out how the grass works, dredging up past horrors. And to have classic Bat-artist Aparo draw this gives it a legitimacy that another artist might not have been able to bring. A great, great single issue; absolutely recommended.

1 comment:

Dale Bagwell said...

So grass cuttings from Ireland is the main culprit in this one huh? Man, Milligan didn't even try to hide the weirdness on this one did he?
Magic I guess. You know, you'd think by now, almost nothing would phase Batman after everything he's seen both solo and as a JL member. In fact, given his massively controlling nature, I'd figure he'd legit hate Magic more than anything given its chaotic nature.

Cool issue to hunt down though.....