Batman #580 (August, 2000)

What’s Inside:

Bats is hot on the flippered tail of a new half-human, half-Shamu villainess named Orca, who has been stealing precious items as to sell them as to then use the money to help the underprivileged. Batman uses his smarts and lip-reading skills learns tha Orca is actually the wheelchair-bound Grace Balin, a marine biologist and employee of the failing Gotham Aquarium.

Balin used an experimental formula derived from the spine of a killer whale to heal her own spinal injuries. Testing it on herself, it had the side effects of causing her to lose funding for her programs at the aquarium and turning her into a humanoid, porpoise monster. Batman then adopts an action figure-friendly aquatic suit to battle his new opponent, and this is why comics sometimes suck.

Writer: Larry Hama

Artist: Scott McDaniel

Colorist: Roberta Tewes

Publisher: DC

Why I Kept This Issue:

I think I’ve mentioned before how much I love Scott McDaniel. If I haven’t, lemme say it now…I FUCKING LOVE SCOTT McDANIEL. He is my favorite Batman artist, still, despite the age of Jim Lees and Tim Sales and Greg Capullos. 

Though I obviously recognize the rusty storytelling here (I mean, come on, Orca is a hodgepodge of rip-offs of other villain tropes), I still really like this issue as mindless fun. And I could stare at McDaniel’s aquatic Batman design all day.

Attached Memory: 

This comic reminds me of my single greatest shame. I was given this comic while I was at a mental hospital. I won’t go into too much detail, because it’s no one’s business but my own. It was early in my senior year of high school, and I was going through some very difficult times. I was dealing with a great deal of mental and emotional issues, and I wasn’t dealing with them well.

I had recently met my father and learned that he was a monster. I felt that my mother despised me. My mother’s husband had been trying to push me out of the house and telling me I was basically worthless scum for years. I felt like I was a burden on my grandmother, who I was living with at the time. I was confused and ashamed all to hell of my sexuality so much that I was trying to “fix” myself. It all culminated in a time of my greatest weakness, and I told my grandmother that I needed to go away somewhere for help. I knew that I needed very serious help, not just a visit to a shrink once a month, because I felt absolutely insane and even thought about ending it.

While I was in the mental health facility, my cross country couch came to visit me. He brought with him a Donatos pizza and two comic books, including this one.

I was a child then, a dumb teenager who couldn’t see past my issues and into the future. But I overcame my issues, or at least managed them, and I am now a happy and fulfilled adult.

Condition of My Copy: Preserved in plastic and only read once.

See Also: Daredevil and Batman for more Scott McDaniel love.