"Sometimes the wain comes down so hawrd you fowrget you've ever been dwy. I twy to see it, out thewe in the past or in the future wainbows waiting. Going into Powrky's that day, I twy my best to wemember. I weawy do. Things wewrn't awways this way. They won't awways be this way."
One of DC Comics' most-discussed stories, Grant Morrison's "The Coyote Gospel" from Animal Man #5 (1988) features a wily coyote from another dimension whose constant violent deaths and rebirths buy salvation for the anthropomorphic animals that inhabit his world. Never before had the Looney Tunes been so seriously re-envisioned. The story (at the time) could only have happened in a comic book, and only a stylized form could take something so ridiculous and give it such emotional resonance.
The most-talked about comic of summer 2017 doesn't prove quite as successful, but this official crossover1 manages quite a bit with an equally bizarre premise. Batman / Elmer Fudd #1 (there are no immediate plans for #2) pits the Dark Knight against a cewtain speech-impediment-afflicted hunter, in the shadows of a more-insane-than-usual version of Gotham City.
Title: Batman/Elmer Fudd #1
Stories: "Pway for Me."
Writer: Tom King
Artists: Lee Weeks, Lovern Kindzierksi
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Byron Vaughns
First Published: Summer 2017
In a Gotham populated by human analogues of the Looney Tunes, a hardboiled Elmer Fudd seeks vengeance for the death of his lady-love, Silver St. Cloud. Along the way, the familiar cast appears. A buck-toothed, carrot-munching lowlife named "Bugs" sets much of the plot in motion. "Ain't I a stinker?" he asks, about his part in events. The bartender is a dead ringer, albeit a human one, for Porky Pig. A short-tempered biker with an over-sized red mustache plays cards in the bar with a southern-born loudmouth. After gleaning the information he needs, Fudd heads out on his murderous vendetta. He will soon cross paths, of course, with the Batman.
The noir artwork and washed colours perfectly reflect the writing, which recounts events not especially weirder than anything Batman has encountered before.
The story walks a very fine line indeed; it's not exactly parody, but it's not entirely serious, either. While fun, its characters possess genuinely tortured souls. King has crafted a fascinating tale that reinterprets pop culture convention and cliché. It may lack the depth of "The Coyote Gospel" or the unbridled nerd joy of 1994's Archie Meets the Punisher, but it's probably the most fun a reader will have with these characters in 2017.
The second story inserts a cartoony Batman into 1953's "Duck! Rabbit, Duck!" It's momentarily amusing, but pales beside the lead.
In the end, the most remarkable thing about Batman / Elmer Fudd #1 is how well it works with a premise that probably shouldn't work at all.
1. Warner Brothers bought DC comics in 2009