Batman has arguably one of the best rogues galleries of any comic book character. The Joker, the Riddler, Hush, Clayface, Two Face...the list goes one and on. They are some of the scariest and best developed villains in all comicdom, and provide the perfect yin to Batman's yang, the chaos to his order. They are one of the reasons why Batman has remained so popular all these years, as every good hero needs equally good villains to square off with.
But of course, with the good also comes the bad. There are some Batman villains that are a bit more low-tier. They're weird. They're quirky. Sometimes, they're downright sad. I'm talking about the likes of Kite Man, Killer Moth, Crazy Quilt, Ratcatcher and the Talley-man (who remembers THAT guy?). These are the villains that never quite catch on, that never rise into the upper echelon of badguy-ness.
Calendar Man is one of these characters. A genius inventor who commits crimes to coincide with holidays?! YAWN! It's a particularly gimmicky gimmick, and one that has seen Calendar Man, aka Julian Day, languish deep in the cellars of Batman's rogue gallery and even be considered a "joke villain". It's not that gimmicks are bad. I mean, who would have thought that a criminal who leaves riddles lying around would become popular? Somehow that has worked for a certain man in a green and purple suit. It's just that this particular gimmick was pretty bad and didn't catch on. Heck, even the Holiday Killer in The Long Halloween did it better. You know it's sad when another villain in the same CITY does your thing better.
Sure, Calendar Man enjoyed a small uptick in popularity due to his appearance in the Arkham series of games. But again, he was a bit-character who people would go visit on holidays to hear him say crazy things.
Batman Rebirth came out this week and introduced a new creative team. Written by Scott Snyder and Tom King, it is a bridging issue between the New 52 series and the new ongoing title, which will also be written by King. Not only is this comic beautifully drawn and well written, it also contains....you guessed it! Calendar Man!
But it's not the Calendar Man we are all used to....
So what's new??
I don't even think we need to mention his first appearances, in which is costume changed to match the seasons. It just wasn't a good look, to say the least...
Moving on....and it's not much better. It's not that a red tunic with a cape made of a calendar isn't a cool look, it's just that....it's a really uncool look:
Hardly a scary prospect! He was later re-designed took on a look similar to that in the subsequent Arkham games. Here he is in prison digs, with the names of the months tattooed around his head:
In Rebirth, a similar look is also used, but this time he has Roman numerals tattooed around his head and he is packing some serious heat:
Sure, it's not much of a change, but they have at least made him look serious and like a bit of a badass (despite getting taken down within the first three pages..but lets ignore that...). Mikel Janin has done a really standout job with this the art in issue, and Calendar Man's appearance is definitely a highlight. Especially how downright creepy he looks in some parts:
Calendar Man is still an inventor at heart, but this time he has invented a machine that can control the weather and is changing the seasons rapidly. All of this means that spring is coming, and Mr Bloom's spores (leftover from the last story arc) are going to activate and cause some serious damage. I liked this homage to the previous story, and that fact that it made Calendar Man and his invention a serious threat.
However, in an addition to the Calendar Man mythos, he now has some weird "powers". He's gone all Solomon Grundy on us and can now go through a cycle of life, death and rebirth based on the seasons. How cool is that!
Once again, Mikel Janin's artwork does a stellar job of showing just how creepy this new power is.
But wait, there's more! Not only does he go through this cycle, his DNA changes every time while still retaining the memories of the old body. This is a great addition to the power and, as Duke says "He's a different person...he'll come up with new ideas". Plus having ever-changing DNA is a great boon for any criminal.
All-in-all, this new take on Calendar Man is fresh, while at the same time paying homage to the old aspects of the character. While he was essentially used as a "villain of the week" in this issue, I think that he has been set-up as a potentially great recurring villain and maybe, just maybe, he has been released from the dark, sad cellar of Batman villains in which he has been kept for so long.
What are your thoughts on the new Calendar Man? A one-off re-imagining? Or a potential new top-tier foe for our Caped Crusader?