I’ll admit I was initially skeptical when I heard that DC characters were crossing over with their compatriots from the world of Looney Tunes. I mean, it couldn’t possibly work, could it?
The answer, at least in Batman/Elmer Fudd by Tom King and Lee Weeks, is a resounding yes. King and Weeks crafted a beautiful noir story about the Dark Knight and a bumbling hunter into my choice for the single best comic book of 2017 thus far.
It was a dark and stormy ni…wait, wrong franchise. It was a miserable night as Fudd strode towards Porky’s, a bar nestled in the shadow of Wayne Industries. Inside, he finds Bugs “The Bunny”, a notorious hitman. After a perfectly placed joke about Albuquerque, Bugs divulges to Fudd that he was hired to kill Fudd’s girl, and the man who put him up to it was Bruce Wayne.
Fudd leaves Porky’s and heads to stately Wayne Manor and, impersonating a chauffeur, manages to weasel his way into the estate. He confronts Bruce Wayne and fells him with a shotgun blast before calmly making his exit.
Naturally, his antics put him squarely in the Dark Knight’s radar (you didn’t think Fudd would actually kill him, did you?) Batman confronts his new foe and their fight is a masterclass on how to write and draw a fight scene. For my money, these pages are the best Weeks has produced in his storied career, and that’s saying something. King, meanwhile, proved one again why he’s the one of, if not the best, writer in the industry.
The Easter eggs King and Weeks inserted throughout the issue were a delight, from the patrons and menu at Porky’s to some of the dialogue. The issue was a love letter to Looney Tunes.
The backup story, written by King and drawn by Byron Vaughns, was about as different from the lead story as one could get. The story is a reimagining of the classic Rabbit Fire episode from 1951 (Think Rabbit Season! Duck Season! and you’ll know the episode I mean) with hilarious results. It’s a perfect, lighthearted compliment to the dark, gritty tale that preceded it, but it still stands up as a good-going-on-great Batman story.
I simply cannot recommend this book strongly enough. It’s going to take something special, perhaps even miraculous, to unseat it from the top of my favourite issue list for 2017.