Once again, the Bruce Jones Catwoman story is a lot more interesting than the Batman feature. But I’ll go in printing order and start with the Batman.
The art this issue is Gene Colan and Tony DeZuniga; so far, DeZuniga is the best inker for Colan on Batman, especially given the vampires. The whole issue has a disquieting tone to it. It looks great… even if the story is a little tepid.
Dick is under the influence of his vampire girlfriend and he sets up Batman to get bitten. Once again, Vicki Vale’s dilemma over whether to reveal Bruce as Batman is more interesting than the Batman stuff.
DeZuniga is the solo artist on the Catwoman backup too. Jones’s writing is great–he puts Selina in a very noir situation, perfecting adapting things to make the femme fatale the noir protagonist. The art wondrously matches the writing’s tone. Just fantastic.
Nightmare in Crimson; writers, Gerry Conway and Paul Levitz; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Tony DeZuniga; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. Those Lips, Those Eyes; writer, Bruce Jones; artist, DeZuniga; colorist, Tom Ziuko; letterer, A. Kubert. Editor, Dick Giordano; publisher, DC Comics.
Beyond Who’s Who, I don’t think I’ve read much regular DC Human Target. This special only partially counts as it was a tie-in for the failed nineties television adaptation.
It’s decent, far better than I was expecting. The art from Burchett and Giordano is good and Verheiden’s writing is fine. There’s a lot of humor–Christopher Chance does his work because it’s fun–and Verheiden harps on endlessly with the anti-drug message, but it’s a rather violent book. It opens with someone shot in the head and Chance goes on to kill a bunch of bad guys.
Unfortunately, since Verheiden is mimicking the TV show and assuming the reader has some familiarity with the cast of characters, there’s not much for the supporting cast to do but tell jokes.
If the comic’s any indication, the show might have been decent, Rick Springfield or not.
The comic does go on too long though.
The Mack Attack Contract; writer, Mark Verheiden; penciller, Rick Burchett; inker, Dick Giordano; colorist, Julianna Ferriter; letterer, Albert DeGuzman; editor, Brian Augustyn; publisher, DC Comics.
The Batman feature is problematic to say the least. Batman infiltrates a school for criminals as “Matches” Malone (gag) and is quickly found out. He then has to dispatch of the criminals as Batman. Conway and Kupperberg–not sure why Conway needed an assist here, there’s no heavy lifting in this issue–never explain how the criminals figured out it was Batman.
An additional problem is with the ruse itself. Why didn’t Batman just shut the school down himself? Why bother auditing the classes?
It’s silly but not terrible. The Newton art is good and there’s enough going on with Alfred and Gordon to keep the issue moving. Oddly, all of Conway’s B plots seem to involve everyone but Batman.
The Batgirl backup is actually pretty neat. She’s unconscious for the majority of the story, which is lame, but the end is great–she’s turning into a giant serpent lady.
The Academy of Crime, Part Two: Final Exams!; writers, Gerry Conway and Paul Kupperberg; penciller, Don Newton; inker, Frank Chiaramonte; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. Sleep While the Serpent Smiles!; writer, Cary Burkett; penciller, Jose Delbo; inker, Joe Giella; colorist, Tom Ziuko; letterer, Janice Chiang. Editor, Dick Giordano; publisher, DC Comics.
It’s Robin versus his vampire girlfriend while Alfred hires the Human Target to trick Vicki Vale and Jim Gordon decides to stop being a mope.
Batman barely makes an appearance–he shows up at the beginning to remind the reader he or she needs to pick up the month’s Detective Comics. It’s a weird few pages, because the art on Batman (just on him) is bad. And it’s Gene Colan and Alfredo Alcala so the weak art is a big surprise.
The art’s excellent on the rest of the issue. It’s an all action issue, except the Alfred and Gordon scenes. Conway and Colan doing seventies Marvel-type vampires, only at DC. It’s strange to see.
The Catwoman backup is unimpressively okay. Jones does these stories in two parts; he really needs three. He has to resolve the previous story’s cliffhanger, move things along and finish. There’s not enough time.
Blood Sport; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. The Man, the Bullet, the Cat, Part Two; writer, Bruce Jones; penciller, Trevor von Eeden; inker, Larry Mahlstedt; colorist, Tom Ziuko; letterer, A. Kubert. Editor, Dick Giordano; publisher, DC Comics.