Do you ever wonder if there are stories written for your favorite hero that never see the light of day? Have you ever mused that there is a comic in some editor’s bottom drawer where Sabretooth reveals to Wolverine that he really is his father. Maybe it even includes a two page splash where Wolverine is missing his hand and screaming “No!” Ok, maybe not that last part. But still, haven’t you ever wondered if ingenious stories got shelved or scrapped because the timing wasn’t right or someone was just too shortsighted?
Batman: Hidden Treasures includes a 22-page story by Bernie Wrightson told completely in splash pages that has been sitting in a drawer for over thirteen years. While initially I thought this was the equivalent of selling leftover dough by calling it “breadsticks,” once I opened the book and saw Wrightson’s beautiful full-page artwork, I decided to give it a go. His grim style usually found in horror comics, is perfectly suited for a Batman story that features Solomon Grundy. I am particularly a fan of the leaner version of Grundy as opposed to the zombie-Hulk interpretation. Wrightson captures this lean zombie look without contradicting Grundy’s superhuman stature and strength.
While the narration by a Gotham transient gets a bit hokey at times, the storyline is as engaging as the artwork. Batman is tracking a murderer who leaves the bodies of his homeless victims in the sewers. In doing so he crosses paths with Solomon Grundy in the midst of carrying off his latest victim. Without spoiling too much, the last twist of the story is not as shocking as it is pleasantly satisfying. The story is strong enough that the reader accepts the narrator’s explanation that “’I’m not saying that’s what really happened. And I’m not saying that ain’t what happened either. You can make up your own mind. It’s just a good story is all.’”
And it is a good story.
Unfortunately the same is not true of the second “treasure.” The reprint of Swamp Thing issue 7 could have stayed hidden. It’s very dated and even difficult to follow. Outside of a unique version of Batman straddling two buildings found on page twelve, the art is a bit cartoonish and the storyline is choppy.
I still give it the go-ahead light, particularly for Batman fans. Just don’t bother reading past the Grundy story.
Thank you Collector’s Corner for always pointing me in the direction of well-written books. If you live near Midland, MI, drop in to see them.