That sort of thing gets cartoonish after a while, so why not do it in cartoon form in the first place?
That's what writers Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka and artist Michael Lark do in "In the Line of Duty," first story in the Gotham Central collection, one of very many tales in which Batman has become a problematic figure.
The tale's villain is Dr. Victor Fries — Mr. Freeze — who wears a cryogenic suit to survive and who takes his revenge by freezing victims — nothing if not over the top. In the story's opening scene, Freeze attacks two police who raid an apartment where he's holed up, zapping one with his freeze gun and snapping his brittle torso in two.
Over the top, but it works. Brubaker, Rucka and Lark, creating a dark, realistic story in the traditions both of Batman's post-1986 return to his dark roots and of Ed McBain's group police procedurals, nevertheless manage to accommodate the most extravagant of superpowers and the most fiendishly violent of killings. No way anyone could get away with that in regular, non-comic-book crime fiction without inducing a fit of eye-rolling.
© Peter Rozovsky 2010