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The Batman Adventures #8
Writer: Kelley Puckett
Penciler: Mike Parobeck
Inker: Rick Burchett
Colorist: Rick Taylor
Letterer: Tim Harkins

By Erin Bentley
07 October 2009 — In this issue of The Batman Adventures we see the DCAU comic book debut of Clayface, but unfortunately we also see the return of artist Mike Parobeck and his overly cartoony characters. Oh joy of joys. Have the bottle of aspirin handy, because this might be headache-inducing.

Beginning with the cover: it depicts a tall, blonde, chiseled man standing over Batman, who is sporting a bruise on his chin and holding his gut. Summer Gleeson is also there with that "be still, my beating heart" glint in her eyes as she stares at this Adonis in a green jacket. But if one were to take notice of the shadows being cast in the background, they would see that this Adonis' shadow is that of a hulking monster. Three guesses on who this could be. Okay, I'll be the first to admit that the use of the Adonis in the foreground with his true nature revealed in his shadow is interesting, but I'm having trouble with the cover. What is supposed to be a bruise on Batman's chin looks more like a blotch that a dermatologist ought to remove — quickly!

Our story opens with a towering monstrosity busting through the glass doors of The First National Bank. Naturally the alarms go off, alerting Batman to the scene. But thanks to her trusty police scanner, Summer Gleeson and her cameraman, Joe, also arrive. At the bank, our not-so-subtle thief is making off with his ill-gotten goods, when Batman crashes through the window. He's quickly backhanded into a number of filing cabinets, surely bruising or breaking some ribs.

Meanwhile, Summer Gleeson and Joe split up to try and get the best shot. As it goes in these situations, Summer hurries down a dark alley, only to stumble upon a mugging. The bad guys chase after her and she runs into a handsome young man, who soundly trounces the muggers. When the threat is averted, the hero looks into the eyes of the woman he has saved, hearts appearing out of thin air. Our young hero makes some lame excuse and leaves. Summer picks up a rose that had fallen out of his lapel during the fight, attempting to return it, only to find her savior gone. Somebody opened a can clichés, methinks.

I have only one thing to say before I move on: Mr. Parobeck, they are called shadows. Use them.

But what, you might ask, happened to Batman? He has returned to the Batcave where Alfred patched him up. As Batman suits up again, he makes a comment to Alfred that any villain who takes him out with one blow cannot be allowed to walk the streets. So Batman heads out with a picture of the thief. The thing is, it was only a few panels back when the crook knocked the wind out of Batman, so the obtainment of said picture I question. Regardless, he shows it to the manager of a seedy hotel, a waitress dressed as a Playboy Bunny, a random schlub he's hung upside, a dealer at an underground card game, and a guy at a pool hall. Elsewhere in Gotham, our thief watches Summer Gleeson's report on his thefts.

Wow. They got away with putting what was clearly a Playboy Bunny in what is considered a children's comic. Yes, they made her a waitress at this dive they called The Rabbit Hole, but it was still a Playboy Bunny. Again: wow.

Summer, however, is staring starry-eyed at that rose she picked up in the alley. Joe the cameraman comes up to report that the thief is robbing yet another bank. Summer does not hear him. Over at the bank, Batman tries once again to apprehend our thief, but manages to not only break more ribs, but also his face. The thief leaves, but crafty Batman smiles because he managed to slip a tracking device on the thief's shoe. Back at the TV studio, Summer is about to head home when the phone rings. She lets her machine pick it up, until she realizes that it is the guy she met in the alley. She hastily grabs the phone and the two make a date. How convenient.

Our blond hero waits anxiously for Summer to show up at a fancy restaurant, when he is informed that there is a call for him. When he goes to take it, a rope comes flying out of nowhere and yanks the hero out of the restaurant. Batman explains that he figured out that the featureless thief and the chiseled young man were one and the same: Clayface! Just as the shape-shifting villain is about to crush Batman with a mace, Summer rounds the corner and screams in horror. Thanks to this momentary distraction, Batman uses some sort of sonic disruptor — which was conveniently placed in his belt — causing Clayface to become unconscious. As he's carried off by the police, Summer asks Batman if he has seen her date and describes him. Batman replies that no such person was ever here. Back at Summer's office, the rose on her desk crumbles into dust.

Okay, only two aspirin were needed to get through this comic, as opposed to the four it took me to get through the previous issue. There may be hope yet. First of all, I am still not a fan of Mike Parobeck's art style. I understand that the target audience was the same as that of Batman: The Animated Series — that being kids — but that's the point; these kids sat in front of the TV and watched the show. They were used to things being a little darker and a little more mature than the average cartoon. So they should have been given similar stories and art in the comic books.

Gripes aside, the ending where the rose crumbled was very sad, and I did feel a little sorry for Summer. She thought she had met a nice guy and wanted to get to know him better, only to lose him before she had the chance. Talk about heartbreaking.

Overall Score: 2

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