With so many big names and big events plastered across the shelves of your LCS, sometimes great comics get left behind – buried in longboxes until someone comes along to find these Hidden Gems.
Well now, here’s a somewhat less than obvious pairing. Bruce Wayne, guardian of the urban jungle that is Gotham City, and John Clayton – the one and only Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle. What could possibly bring this not-so-dynamic duo together? A fantastic story of intrigue, betrayal, and human nature, that’s what.
Published jointly by DC and Dark Horse in ’99 as a four part mini, Claws of the Catwoman is an effectively dark look at Batman and his methods. Marz gives us what is perhaps one of the most natural team-ups ever, even if it seems somewhat ludicrous at face value. Financed by Bruce Wayne, explorer extraordinaire Finnigan Dent has provided Gotham’s natural history museum with quite a haul of rare and priceless artifacts. John Clayton however (Tarzan for the uninitiated) has stopped by to take a look at the new displays, as it seems these ancient artifacts are none too ancient. While he and Bruce Wayne engage in a round of Gotham City speed-dating with each other, a catsuit clad sneakthief makes off with one of the artifacts. And so the story truly begins.
Events unfold in a slightly unusual fashion, giving us intriguing new takes on a pair of established Bat-villains and an impressive argument against Batman’s “no killing” rule. The back and forth between the story’s principals is one of the most interesting dialogues I’ve seen Bruce engaged in this side of Smallville, and it is an interesting mirror to the Bruce Wayne we’re getting in DC’s new First Wave books.
The art, for its part, feels right at home evoking the pulp feel of 1930′s Gotham and the grit and grime of the African jungle where the lion’s share (pun intended) of the story takes place. I’ve never been a fan of Igor Kordey’s work on modern stories like New X-Men or Soldier X, but I find the style is a perfect match for the tale at hand.
5 out of 5 blowgun darts make this book a must read