With this review of 1997’s “Dark Claw Adventures”, we’re nearing the finish line in our journey through Amalgam Comics.
Like the 1996 issue “Legends of the Dark Claw”, this issue merges Batman with Wolverine. Also returning is Sparrow, the Jubilee/Robin combo. Unlike the 1996 issue, “Adventures” is drawn in the Bruce Timm style and the editor’s notes reference episodes, not prior issues. This time there are several villains presented, most in the form of practice robots. The primary villain is a combination of Lady Deathstrike and Talia Al Ghul.
Ty Templeton is credited for the script and breakdowns, with finishes by Rick Burchett. This issue was produced by DC Comics.
The story opens with Dark Claw working undercover in a bar as Patch Malone. He’s confronted by two cyber ninja assassins. He defeats them and escapes with the help of Sparrow and the flying clawmobile.
Dark Claw knows the assassins can only mean one thing: Lady Talia is back in Gotham, and she wants revenge for the death of her father, Ra’a A Pocalypse. Cue flashback showing Dark Claw had to choose between killing Ra’s or letting Ra’s kill all mutants. He chose Ra’s, which cost him the love of Talia.
Back in his cave lair, Dark Claw decides he needs some practice to prepare for Talia’s attack. Sparrow programs the Danger Room to send life model decoys of his worst enemies at him. We’re given names, but Templeton resisted the urge to give them a splash page, or even awesome poses to show off the design.
After he’s worn out, Lady Talia strikes from the shadows. She reminds him that she knows all of his secrets, which made it simple to break into his lair. He’s horrified to find out he didn’t smell her coming because she’s more machine than human now, having had to replace so much of herself after getting severe burns trying to rescue her father from a burning airplane. Dark Claw mistook her for the smell of the LMDs.
Dark Claw defends himself, but refuses to attack. He pleads with Talia to stop because they love each other, but then she pierces his emotional armor when she asks if he loves his parents’ murderer.
Dark Claw raises his hands and invites her to kill him if that’s really what she wants to do. She stabs him through the heart, and he mutters “surprised me there” before falling to the floor. Talia starts untying Sparrow, saying she doesn’t want to harm an innocent. She then prepares to kill herself out of regret, voicing her wish to bring Dark Claw back.
Naturally, that’s when he rolls over and reveals he was only mostly dead. As his mutant healing ability works, he gives her an emotional speech about his own conflicting desire to kill the man who murdered his parents. She sadly notes that her own father is still dead, and Dark Claw admits his own regret. The scene ends with them holding each other as Sparrow, who is still restrained, asks for help.
What “Wizard” thought then
“Wizard” thought an animated-style Amalgam was cool enough to make it their cover for the May 1997 issue.
After its release, no comment. The issue did appear in the price guide for a couple years, but never rose above cover price.
What I think now
I really liked “Dark Claw Adventures”. Of the wave two Amgalams I’ve reviewed so far, I think this might be my favorite. My expectations were low after Larry Hama and Jim Balent’s “Legends of the Dark Claw”, and they got even lower as I worked my way through books like “Thorion” and “Bat-Thing”. I was not prepared for this.
From the opening page, both the layouts and the art style perfectly captured the animated feeling. This set the mood for the story, and to be honest the biggest problem I had with it was that my brain couldn’t decide if Dark Claw should sound like Kevin Conroy or… whoever voiced Wolverine in the 90s animated X-Men series. I ended up splitting the difference and heard Conroy in the narrative captions and Wolverine in the word balloons.Continued below
The plot was a compact one that referenced past events but remained suitably self-contained. It didn’t start in the middle of the action like “<a href=”http://www.multiversitycomics.com/reviews/remembering-amalgam-the-exciting-x-patrol/”X-Citing X-Patrol”, nor did it end on a cliffhanger like “Lobo the Duck”. It didn’t even close on a bold new direction for cast like “Generation Hex”. It was an emotional story instead of an adventure, and it’s hard to imagine where a second issue would go.
Templeton’s dialogue does a good job of making the characters sound unique, although it’s worth noting there are really only three characters in this comic. Outside of some cyber ninja assassins who give Talia some exposition, the only people who speak are Dark Claw, Sparrow, and Lady Talia. As a fun aside, “Dark Claw Adventures” is the second Amalgam comic to reference THX 1138. The first was “Spider-Boy Team Up”.
The character designs are hit or miss. Dark Claw and Sparrow retain the look established by Balent. I like the way Lady Talia turned out, but I”m not a big fan of Ra’s A-Pocalypse, who came out looking unexpectedly goofy.
If more of this series existed, I’d definitely put effort into getting them. I’d buy the special edition DVDs, too. This was a very well done comic.