The Comic Exotic: BATMAN by Josh Simmons

A semi-regular column about great comics you probably don’t know about. These could be Indie comics, comics with small print runs, or foreign comics. As reader and lover of comics for over 35 years, I’ve accumulated a huge collection. And this collection runs deep with the weird and the esoteric.

Comic creators sometimes like to play with characters that aren’t theirs to play with. Jeffrey Brown famously did a Kitty Pryde and Wolverine comic and sold it at conventions until Marvel asked him to stop. Michel Fiffe did a wonderful, personal recreation of his favorite comic, Suicide Squad, which (due to its rarity and Fiffe’s rising popularity) has become one of the most expensive back issues in recent years.

In that very same tradition, I give you… BATMAN by Josh Simmons.

Simmons always intended this comic to be free. He sent copies to comic shops around the country and asked that they give them away. Why would somebody do this? Clearly this is a comic he worked hard on. The cover is silk-screened. The artwork is very detailed.

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So why work so hard on something only to give it away?

Maybe Simmons saw this as a way to get his name out there. He’d been quietly doing strange, little comics like Happy for some time. Maybe he saw this as a way to get some exposure.

Or perhaps Simmons thought that he would never get the chance to do Batman, and certainly not like this.

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In Simmons’ story, Batman has become a confused, pathetic shadow of his former self. He sleeps on rooftops and he no longer fights crime.

Catwoman shows up and they have a bit of back-n-forth.

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She calls Batman “pathetic” and leaves.

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Then Batman assaults a homeless man, beating him senseless and cutting off his lips.

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We end on a lonely scene of Batman picking at a cruddy wall, picking until his fingernail peels off. All the while, he dreams of various dehumanizing treatments for criminals, and he smiles.

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Sure, it’s not much of a story, but the fun of this comic comes from its subversive nature. This is a poor, pathetic version of a character that we know and love; a character worth millions of dollars to a multi-billion dollar corporation. And they are very protective of their property. It’s fun to see somebody “take the piss out” of Batman. In fact, it’s probably even therapeutic in its own weird way.

Maybe that’s why Simmons made this comic. Maybe it was therapy for him as well.

Next time in The Comic Exotic: we got something brand new from an old favorite, but it’s a comic that’s incredibly hard to find.

See ya’ next time!

Questions, comments, insults, send ‘em here: dubcomicsjon@gmail.com

Jon Vinson is the writer of the graphic novel Edge of the Unknown and recently launched the new comics series Nightingale and the Finch. He is the Founder & Publisher of DUB Comics.