Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #177-178 – Lost Cargo (May-June 2004)
by Devin Grayson, Jean-Jacques Dzialowski, & George Rodriguez

Much-better-than-average Batman-and-Catwoman tale involving the frequently-at-odds crusaders working in parallel to rescue a truckload of Filipino slaves being trafficked into stripping and whoredom by the mob. Why this is a Legends of the Dark Knight story, as opposed to a standard Batman, Catwoman, or Detective Comics story, I don't know, though I suspect it has something to do with DC trying to cram Catwoman into every conceivable book before the movie comes out … a movie, incidentally, which looks to have nothing at all to do with any old or new comic version of Catwoman.

What makes this one good, other than the more-adult-than-usual subject matter, is that it's not so much Batman and Catwoman as Catwoman and Matches Malone (Batman's oft-forgotten third alter ego). The story becomes more about Catwoman learning the secret of Matches Malone than the whole taking-on-the-mob-to-rescue-the-truckload-of-Filipino-whores thing. And yes, at this point I'm intentionally using that many irritating hyphenated phrases.

What I love about Matches Malone (the plaid-sportjacket-wearing supposed-criminal whose identity Batman assumes when he needs to get the real underground info his iBatcomputer can't provide) is that when he comes into the picture, you get the clearest possible idea of how ridiculous it is to believe in Batman. I mean, how does he have time to have all these adventures, hold down a dayjob, somehow simultaneously track hundreds of crimes-in-progress, take models and anchorwomen to charity fundraisers that are inevitably interrupted by a mad genius, and hang out in seedy bars credibly crafting an additional persona that will tie him into the innermost webs of organized crime? Being Matches Malone would itself be a full-time job. Have you ever partied with criminals? They expect you to do, like, two eightballs and spend all weekend hatching schemes and stuff. You can't just hang out in a bar and listen for people getting loose-lipped, and then cut yourself in on the action.

Plus, isn't Batman in the Justice League as well? He's got way too much going on.

Anyway, the art and story on this one are both great, and in a rare case of restraint, it's all wrapped up in only two issues. I can't express enough how refreshing that is … usually Batman is like Prince, thinking at minimum in three-disc box set terms. Hm … come to think of it, Prince should be in the Justice League, too. Then and only then would worldwide supervillains learn "The Truth."

Review by JJ Cleaners