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Ask Chris #302: All The Fun Of A VHS Tape In Comic Book Form

Ask Chris #302, background art by Jerry Ordway

Q: Why are comic book adaptations of movies a thing? Do you think any are worth reading? -- Daniel, via email

A: You don't see them around too much these days, but when I was a kid, comic book movie adaptations --- official comic book movie adaptations --- were a pretty big deal. Or at least, that's how it seemed to me. See, when you're stuck in the back seat of a Ford Escort on a 600-mile car trip and you want to know more about this new movie that you've been reading about in Disney Adventures, and you're also living in a time before everyone carried a tiny personal computer that could show them literally every comic book, television show, and music video in the world, well, picking up a The Rocketeer: The Official Movie Adaptation off the magazine rack at a gas station was a pretty solid way to kill some time.

But then, I imagine that's the problem.

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The Comic Book Adaptation of Batman ’89 Is As Gorgeous As It Is Flawed [Review]

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As part of the marketing blitz for the movie, the comic version of Batman naturally sold batloads [Editor's note: we apologize for nothing] and is a fixture of many a 30-something's comics collection. In an effort to extort as much as they could from the fanbase, DC Comics made the book available in two formats: a newsstand-friendly comic that set readers back a mere $2.50 and a prestige format version) with a painted cover and spine) that retailed for $4.95. Personally, the cheaper version’s cover has always appealed to me more, but I’ll admit that Batman kicking a clown has a visceral appeal to me than Batman standing on a gargoyle, even if it's nicely rendered. No matter what version you bought though, the interiors were the same, and they were among the best drawings of Jerry Ordway's already distinguished career.

Unfortunately, even with scripter Denny O'Neil's bonafides as one of the people behind the 1980s version of the caped crusader that inspired the film and Ordway's extraordinary ability to render likenesses, the comic is inert and suffers from a complete inability to be compelling on its own. That's something that can't be said about Burton's movie, as scattershot and disorderly as the final product is. Even if you're not a fan of the movie (and I'm not), if it's on a screen, you're going to watch its weirdness unfold — you can't say that about the comic version, no matter how pretty it is.

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