In the new mini-series Batman and the Monster Men, Matt (Hurry up with Mage 3, will ya?) Wagner is doing a bang-up job on his retelling of the 2nd meeting of the evil Dr. Hugo Strange and the Darknight Detective from 1940's Batman #1. Of course, Matt is taking 6 issues to do what used to take 8 pages back in the day, but it's okay. This isn't umpty pages of photo-copied heads staring through the 4th wall and speaking with incomplete sentences a la Bendis. Nope...this is all story, folks.
In Strange's first appearance he wasn't so much the science-villain as he was in his following foray into crime. Way back in Detective Comics #36 (also from 1940), Hugo was just a bad guy criminal mastermind, albiet with the usual Golden Age kinks....
The mini looks like a nice return to the concept of Batman being a detective and going out and detecting things and doing the hard work of solving crimes, something which has been missing for far too long in the different Bat-books. A few short months ago as fans reckon time, Bats just used to be able to call on the members of his extended rodent family to give him the info he needed to solve a case. The departure of Oracle has banished all the quick-fix solutions and now Batman is forced to work late once again. Wagner is making Bats do his homework as he comes up against what was probably his first actual super-villain of his career, a guy is making monsters to steal money to further fund his monster-making experiements. It's awesome.
It wasn't so long ago that comic heroes either killed, or let die through their own misadventure, the villains they fought. I was confused by Batman's relatively recent insistence that he never killed...because the Bats I was familiar with often did, even if only in self defense or by being unable to rescue a criminal in time to prevent them falling into their own trap. In comparing the seperate versions of the Batman to the original story and the new series thus far, I have discovered some scenes from Batman #1 that are not likely to show up in the mini...
Batman anonomously disposes of the body from on high.
Some farmer will be surpised come morning.
It's probably one he owns.
For more great Batman vs. Hugo Strange, pick up or order Strange Apparitions from your local Comic Store.