Warning: Spoilers on Batman Unseen #1
Batman Unseen #1 is the new limited series from Doug Moench and Kelley Jones. I was a fan of their collaboration on the main title years ago so really enjoy seeing them back together for these offerings. The first issue kicked off great. We get to see a classic Bruce Wayne story, complete with Black Mask and a scientist driven mad by his desire to solve the problem of invisibility.
The hook in this series is Batman’s personal dilemma. He’s work hard to create this supernatural image to scare his opponents but what happens when word starts to get out that he might be just a man. What happens when even just one villain starts to stand up to him?
Part of the joy of reading a good, solid, Batman story is seeing this man find ways to do the impossible. He uses not only strong physical training and combat skills to overcome his opponents, but he also incorporates a psychological element to give him an edge. If that isn’t working to the same level, it makes his job harder. He has to fight more that he used to. He starts to get worn out. This initial issue shows his physical and mental frustration over this. His discussions with Alfred show us that his goal isn’t always to fight and often having to fight at all is a loss. He wants to use the Batman as a image to strike fear and to decrease incidents. What happens when that seems to be losing it’s punch?
The scientist, Dr. Glass, gets hooked up with Black Mask. Although he doesn’t know that is who his benefactor is. He is working on a serum to turn a person invisible. This would obviously be of interest to any crime organization.
Dr. Glass doesn’t have time to gather any willing test subjects so he tests the serum on himself. Initial treatments take away the visibility of his skin. Later treatments take away the muscle tissue. As you can guess, this begins to play with his mind and we get the horror movie scenario where he begins to commit murders. It is interesting to see how the need for vindication and acceptance as a valid scientist does seem to work and make sense in these scenarios. He was turned down for funding every time so he takes this opportunity to make use of the serum.
It’s clear Glass doesn’t feel the need to answer to his “unknown” benefactor. Also, Black Mask doesn’t trust him so is having him followed. What does Black mask want with the serum? What are Glass’ ultimate goals? How will all of this drive Batman to the next stage in his development?
I know somehow this will lead to Bruce upping his game and becoming more effective as the caped crusader. The timing of this story is perfect. We have the old Black Mask here and a new Black Mask in the current books. We have Bruce Wayne trying to make his role as Batman something larger and see Dick Grayson facing similar issues. I find seeing Bruce Wayne’s humanity in this very engaging and hope the series can keep up this character driven exploration. Issue 1 felt very classic.
What happens when villains recognize that a man in a cowl is just a man in a cowl? We’ll see.