Barr, Mike W.
About the Author:
Mike W. Barr was born in Akron, Ohio, USA in 1952.
AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:
1.8 out of 5
Batman: Dark Knight Dynasty
(Art by Scott Hampton, John Costanza, Gary Frank, Cam Smith, Scott McDaniel and Bill Sienkiewicz)
An Elseworlds story telling the tales of three different generations of the Wayne family; in the 13th Century, the present day and the future of the 26th Century. In each time period a member of the family, wearing the mantle of the Bat, attempts to thwart the plans of the immortal Vandal Savage.
This book's biggest problem is that it didn't pick one of the featured timeframes and tell a more developed story in it. There's the Templar Knight version of Batman or the alternate present day Bruce Wayne whose parents are alive but worried about his lack of focus. Personally, my favourite was the Batwoman of 2500AD, who wears high-tech armour and has a genetically enhanced ape sidekick in the Robin outfit. Any one of these could've made for an intriguing Elseworlds take on Batman but, by splitting the book into thirds between them, none of them actually get chance to really develop their potential.
This failure to capitalise on some genuinely interesting ideas spoiled the whole book for me. Well, that and the fact that the generations-long feud with Vandal Savage doesn't actually have any sort of resolution at the end.
2 out of 5
Batman: Two-face Strikes Twice! - Book One
(Art by Joe Staton and Daerick Gross)
Two stories featuring the titular supervillain, one told in the style of the old 1940s comic books and one told in the modern style (from when the 90s were considered 'modern').
Two-Face is an interesting Batman villain due to his former friendship with the Dark Knight and the tragedy in how he became scarred. Also, the concept of telling two linked stories in both the contemporary style and that of when the character first originated in an intriguing one. Those are the only two good things that can be said about this book.
This is already a very short book but by splitting it in two it means that neither story has any space to develop. The writer has tried to get around this by having both stories end in a cliffhanger (actually more akin to those of the 1960s TV show) to be picked up in a subsequent volume but actually it just leaves you feeling short-changed.
It could still have held its own if either story was of any great quality but honestly, both the 1990s and the 1940s had far better-written stories to offer than this shallow and cliched dross.
1 out of 5
Batman: Year Two
(Art by Alan Davis, Todd McFarlane, Paul Neary and Alfredo Alcala)
Early in Batman's crimefighting career he is confronted by the return of a far more violent vigilante from Gotham's past, the Reaper. In order to stop the Reaper's murder spree, Batman reluctantly allies himself with Gotham's underworld, including the man who killed his parents, Joe Chill.
The introduction to this book by the author explains that he had the idea of retelling Batman's early days years before the opportunity arose. That is the single way that Barr gets one-up on Frank Miller's 'Batman: Year One'. This certainly isn't a sequel to 'Year One' and is far inferior to it in just about every possible way, including weight, depth and tone. In short, just go read that other book.
If you want a few more specifics about this book's failings then they include, but are not limited to: a villain who is supposed to be dark and threatening but just comes off as silly and disposable; out-of-character behaviour for all of the more familiar characters and a total failure to show us anything new or insighful about Bruce Wayne.
The worst element of this book, however, is all of the horribly contrived plot tension. For example, not only is the Reaper the father of Bruce Wayne's latest love interest, but that love interest is also on the verge of abandoning love and becoming a nun. Neither of these things proves particularly relevant to the plot and are just there to create false tension. Far worse is the fact that Batman is forced to become partners with Joe Chill (for no logical reason) but is secretly planning to kill Chill with the very gun that killed Thomas and Martha Wayne. For starters, it's never explained how he came by that gun or why he's keeping it like some sick memento, but anyone who has every heard of Batman will know immediately that there's exactly a 0% chance of him actually using it to murder Chill. The whole subplot is therefore pointless and, honestly, the version of Bruce's confrontation with Chill originally told in a comic from 1947 is far better (whilst still not being very good itself).
2 out of 5
Star Wars: The Clone Wars - The Starcrusher Trap
(Art by the Fillbach Brothers)
22 BBY. The Jedi undertake a mission to destroy the Separatists' newest superweapon, the Starcrusher, but it soon becomes obvious that the mission is a trap aimed directly at the Jedi themselves.
Generally, this is just a run-of-the-mill Clone Wars story in which the likes of Anakin, Obi-Wan and Ahsoka charge around with their lightsabers and make distinctly unfunny quips.
I did like the inclusion of the Jedi Jyl Somtay from a hard-to-find short story but that positive point is offset by the fact that, with Jyl around, Ahsoka begins acting like Anakin's jealous girlfriend. This is distinctly uncomfortable considering a) he's married and b) she's fourteen!
2 out of 5
Collaborations & Anthologies:
Batman: Birth Of The Demon - Part 1 (here)
Batman: Bruce Wayne - The Road Home (here)
Star Wars: A Long Time Ago... - Resurrection Of Evil (here)
Star Wars Omnibus: Wild Space Volume 1 (here)
Star Wars: X-Wing Rogue Squadron - Requiem For A Rogue (here)
The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told (here)