Monday, May 01, 2006

Memoirs of a Bronze Age Baby: The Lazarus Affair

How do I even begin with this one? This story arc than ran in Batman #332 to #335 is rarely brought up in ‘Batman’s Greatest’ type discussions, but I can’t think of anything I’ve re-read as often as The Lazarus Affair. What makes this one so special? How about a little Ra’ Al Ghul? How about Catwoman in her purple Golden Age costume? How about the return of King Farraday? How about the sexual tension that’s about as thick as a 100 Page Super Spectacular?

Of course, all of these elements are mixed together into a wonderful mélange by Marv Wolfman and drawn by the awesome team of Irv Novick and Frank McLaughlin. Novick certainly deserves to be counted among the top Batman artists, and I would use his great pencils here as proof. Of course, the Jim Aparo covers are even better! As an added bonus, we are treated to an ongoing solo Catwoman feature drawn by Don ‘Effin Newton! This is Bat-Heaven, folks!

I would have been 8 years old, going on 9 when these issues hit the stands and I was absolutely blown away by the intricate, cliffhanger filled storyline. Issues #333 starts of with a great Bond-like opening, complete with a ski chase (how did Batman click into those binding?). Sure this may not be Frank Miller, but it’s pretty darned engaging all the same. This was my first exposure to Ra’s Al Ghul, and I was really struck by his pure evilness. That scene with the guy escaping on the raft really made an impression on me. I also don’t think that I really understood all of the various relationships in Batman’s life until I saw Talia and Selina getting snippy with each other. I was also intrigued by the obviously strained relationship between Dick and Bruce. King Farraday was also a very mysterious, yet appealing figure and I was vaguely aware of the fact that he was a DC character from way back when.

This is all great stuff, with a lot of international intrigue thrown in for good measure. This was one of the first times I can remember experience physical pain while waiting for the next issue to be released. I don’t believe that this story arc has even been collected in a TPB, and that is a real mystery to me. There must certainly be a demand for it, as these issues have been getting pricier and pricier with each passing year. Pick it up if you can, it’s a great read. I still love revisiting the Lazarus Pit every couple of years.


J'onn J'onzz, Martian Manhunter said...

This along with the "Where were you the Night of Batman's death" and the four part four Clayfaces story story is now on my Batbuy list.

J'onn J'onzz, Martian Manhunter said...

Argh! I forgot to buy the Lazarus Affair on my last Lone Star order. Ah, well...

Daniel Graves said...


Thanks for directing me to this post! What a tinge of nostalgia went up my spine when I saw those FANTASTIC Aparo covers... I had completely forgotten that it was Marv Wolfman that did these stories. In those days a four-part arc was really rare. There was the occasional two-parters. And what made this one even more rare was, if memory serves, there was about a year-long lead up with certain subplots going on (possibly even going back into the Wein run, I'll have to check). As I mentioned in another comment, this was before comic shops in my neck of the woods and so I had to diligently track down every issue so as not to miss the exciting conclusion. I had about 5 variety stores I would travel to on my bike to try to find missing comics when my store didn't get it or was sold out. The real thrill of the hunt in those days. I'm going to dig through my old comics and find these babies.

Thanks again!
Fr. Dan
Richmond Hill, ON

Izbot said...

With every reprinting of 'Tales of the Demon' that DC does I always hope this arc is included -- and it never is! I simply do not understand why it's so often overlooked.

Tom said...

Batman is the best comic and the favorite hero for not only Gotham but also for the people across the globe