01 March 2011

Legends of the Dark Knight: "Faith"

"Faith"
Mike W. Barr: Writer
Bart Sears: Pencils
Randy Elliott: Inks
Willie Schubert: Letterer
Steve Oliff: Colors
Dooley, Clark & Helfer: Editors
Cover logo design by Freedom
Originally published in Legends of the Dark Knight #21-23 (August-October 1991)

Continuing to make my way through Legends of the Dark Knight, I was awfully tired last night so I only made it through the three-part "Faith."  The premise here is that Bats saves John, a junkie, from being thrashed to death by his dealer's boss's thugs.  Upon recovery, John has a vision of Batman commanding him to go forth and do his bidding.  John begins seeking out wayward youth before they fall into the traps that ensnared him, offering them a chance to do something better.

"Faith" immediately followed the five-part "Venom," meaning there were eight consecutive issues with a "drugs are bad" message.  There is an interesting letter published in the letters column of part two (issue #22) penned by Louis H. Anders III about the anti-drug message of "Venom," declaring that "propaganda is not, never has been art."  Anders makes some very good points, and they apply to "Faith" just as much as to "Venom."  What I think rescues "Faith" is the cult/false idol subplot.  It, too, could be characterized as propaganda but it's certainly an interesting situation for Batman, who finds himself given the cold shoulder by two people close to him at a time that these youths begin to clean up the streets in his name.  The social commentary is weak, but the character stuff is fairly strong.

I don't know, looking back, whether "Faith" would have been better as a longer story.  Mike W. Barr seems to have told the story he wanted to tell; there are no obvious missing pieces crying out for further exploration.  Barr has penned more than his share of Batman stories, so even though the story is rather average, the dialog rings true.  "Faith" isn't essential reading for Bat-fans, but there is still some intriguing character stuff here worth reading.

The art is nice, including some meticulously detailed graffiti and a fairly freaky dream state version of Batman with an actual bat head protruding from his chest where his emblem should be.  My only complaint is that Willie Schubert's letters for the dream state Batman are in a lime green that's difficult to read in some panels.  The cover for part three by Bart Sears and Randy Elliott, featuring Batman leaping into action wielding one of the youth's bats, makes up for that minor inconvenience.

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