Fann Club: Batman Squad | Review
Fann Club: Batman Squad
Writer/artist: Jim Benton
DC Comics; $12.99
Jim Benton’s bibliography includes such humorous books for young readers as the Dear Dumb Diary, Franny K. Stein and Catwad series, and with Fann Club: Batman Squad he turns his attention to DC Comics’ premiere superhero franchise…sort of.
One day little kid Ernest Fann (get it?) is contemplating all of the crime and evil in the world–someone chewing his favorite socks, someone chewing up the remote, someone going to the bathroom in the front yard (His dog, Westy, is somehow not a suspect). Just then, a Batman comic book comes flying through his open window, giving him just the sign he needs: He’ll become a Batman…fan club…leader.
“I shall share the ways of Batman with others,” he narrates above an image of himself striking a pose similar to the one Batman himself once struck in his first appearance by Bob Kane and Bill Finger. “I shall start a fan club! That is my destiny.“
How does one start a Batman fan club, exactly? Well, first he makes a bunch of “justice-colored” cowls and capes, “The kind you wear when you’re angry at evil.” Then he puts them in a box next to a telephone pole outside, with a sign instructing the world’s greatest crime-fighters to grab their free gear from the box and meet at Ernest’s house to join a secret club and learn the ways of the Batman.
Soon Ernest, secretly the Bat-themed hero Gerbilwing, teams up with his best friend Jack (Nightstand), bored baby-sitter Harriet (Eyeshadow) and Westy (Night Terrier) for lessons on scowling (“You have to grab the mask from inside with your face muscles”), posing, Batarang-throwing and going on patrol. Things eventually get real when Gerbilwing and Nightstand sneak away to investigate the local bank…just as it’s in the process of being robbed! By a werewolf! With a hand-grenade!
Remarkably, the Batman fan club’s first real case ties together everything that comes before it, from the chewed-up socks to the Batman comic sailing through the window to the clues discovered during their first patrol, all in a nice, tidy package that is as neat and complete as it is narratively satisfying (Well, it doesn’t answer who went to the bathroom in the yard, but I still suspect the dog, personally).
Benton’s art, for those not familiar with his previous work, is super-simplified and highly cartoony, looking slightly more so when his characters don their Bat-cowls and thus look vaguely like Batman with only eyes and mouths visible on the dark–er, “justice-colored”—planes of their faces. It gets detailed for the sake of jokes, however, and then it is in absurd contrast with the default setting, as when Gerbilwing or Nightstand talk about their muscles, and they are suddenly drawn with ridiculously defined anatomies.
Gently making fun of Batman comics and their fans while simultaneously celebrating them, Benton’s Batman Squad is a hilarious comic, whether one already knows the ways of the Batman or is just learning of them for the first time from Ernest.
Filed under: Reviews
About J. Caleb Mozzocco
J. Caleb Mozzocco is a way-too-busy freelance writer who has written about comics for online and print venues for a rather long time now. He currently contributes to Comic Book Resources' Robot 6 blog and ComicsAlliance, and maintains his own daily-ish blog at EveryDayIsLikeWednesday.blogspot.com. He lives in northeast Ohio, where he works as a circulation clerk at a public library by day.
SLJ Blog Network