This issue has a neat thread running through its three feature-length stories. The Huntress (from Earth-Two) comes to Earth-One for a visit. In the Batman story, she meets him and Robin. Then she teams up with Batgirl and Batwoman. For the finale, her going home sets off the events for Man-Bat and the Demon’s story.
Gerry Conway and Jim Aparo’s Batman story is okay. Conway pauses on some character stuff–Batman meeting his “daughter”–but ignores other obvious moments, like Robin’s girlfriend being a shallow mean girl. Dick’s upset most of the issue, so his Aparo brow fits. And the ending twist’s decent.
Bob Rozakis writes a lot better than Don Heck draws the three female superheroes teaming up. Lame villain characterizations, but great stuff with Batgirl.
The winner is the Man-Bat and Demon story. Rozakis’s script is fun and Michael Golden’s artwork is breathtaking.
Scars; writer, Gerry Conway; artist, Jim Aparo; colorist, Adrienne Roy. Horoscopes of Crime!; writer, Bob Rozakis; penciller, Don Heck; inkers, Bob Wiacek and Vince Colletta; colorist, Jerry Serpe; letterer, Clem Robins. There’s a Demon Born Every Minute; writer, Rozakis; artist, Michael Golden; colorist, Serpe; letterer, Jean Simek. Editor, Al Milgrom; publisher, DC Comics.
Posted in Batgirl, Batman, Batwoman, DC, Demon, Man-Bat
Tagged Bob Rozakis, Bob Wiacek, Don Heck, Gerry Conway, Jim Aparo, Michael Golden, Vince Colletta
Even after a terrible opening–Simone finishes her cliffhanger without a proper recap, I still don’t know what happened or why–Batgirl starts to recover. And it does so against some substantial odds.
Besides the weak open, Syaf can’t draw regular people. He’s a fine superhero artist, but when he’s got to do two people talking, it bombs. It’s like he doesn’t understand actual facial expression, but understands it exists. He ruins an otherwise good scene (between Jim and Barbara).
Then, on the writing high point, Simone brings in Nightwing. Now, I’ve sort of read all the content before–it’s Barbara and Dick flirting and Batgirl wanting her independence from the Bat-family–but Simone writes it well.
Syaf does pretty well too, since they’re in costume, but he can’t do anything with Nightwing’s stupid costume. It just looks terrible.
Another new DC Universe factoid? Dick seems older than Barbara.
The point, to me, of a Barbara Gordon Batgirl comic is Barbara Gordon.
And on some level, Gail Simone is with me. The comic comes (albeit slowly) to life when Barbara shows up in her civilian life. It also perks up when Batgirl, the cheeriest (traditionally) of the Batman Family, is out in the daylight.
But Simone doesn’t have a lot of Barbara or daytime in the comic. Instead, there’s more protracted “unsure Batgirl in action” sequences. I was hesitantly onboard with the book last issue and the first half of this issue had me ready to shred it.
The second half slightly recovers, not fully, but enough to show there’s still the possibility of good content. Just not much of a chance an issue will be completely good….
The most disappointing aspect has to be the discovery Syaf has trouble drawing regular people. His Commissioner Gordon’s about four foot.
I like Ardian Syaf. I’d never heard of him before Batgirl but he does a good job.
The big question of a Barbara Gordon Batgirl comic is how Gail Simone is going to handle The Killing Joke. She handles it like it’s 1991 and Barbara’s getting over it. That approach is at once the issue’s greatest strength and weakness.
Simone does it all quite well–victim recovering and so on. But it makes Batgirl a decidedly retro book–and it’s a good one. Syaf’s style is in line with the never explicitly identified DC house style of the eighties. He’s good at action, good at detail. Barbara is physically realistic (i.e. athletic, not slutty).
There’s a strange red herring with her new roommate, who seems to be Dick Grayson’s girlfriend from Nightwing years back… but isn’t. Must be a clone.
I don’t love Batgirl but feel hopeful I will.
Kupperberg writes Batman and Robin like something out of the TV show. They’re celebrities, they go on very public adventures, Robin loiters awkwardly around the Batcave in his tights. The approach is just awkward–it’s like a fifties story stretched over a whole issue so there’s no way it isn’t going to overstay it’s welcome.
In this story, Batman has a Washington DC adventure and Robin goes to the arctic. It feels like a James Bond parody.
Having Calnan on the inks is also a problem, but it’s not like, even with the regular quality Newton art, the story wasn’t going to be weak. Kupperberg doesn’t even give the issue any subplots. It’s just Batman and Robin splitting up to fight the villains.
However, at least the Batgirl backup is worthwhile. Randall continues to overwrite, but what she’s overwriting is interesting. Here, Batgirl loses, feels bad, story ends. Plus, great art.
…Like a Dreadnought in the Sky!; writers, Gerry Conway and Paul Kupperberg; penciller, Don Newton; inker, John Calnan; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda; editor, Len Wein. …When Velvet Paws Caress the Ground!; writer, Barbara J. Randall; penciller, Trevor von Eeden; inker, Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Gene D’Angelo; letterer, Janice Chiang; editor, Dick Giordano. Publisher, DC Comics.
It’s decent, underwhelming issue.
In the feature, Batman recovers from his vampire attack–and it’s apparently forgotten Dick was a vampire for a while (he’s fully recovered here, with the explanation being he was hypnotized not converted)–and then gets into a big fight with Deadshot, teaming up with the Human Target posing as Bruce Wayne.
The issues long subplot about Vicki Vale and the Bruce Wayne is Batman photos is resolved and everything is just hunky dory at the end… except the possible suggestion the priest who helped Batman fight the vampires is bad.
Oh, and Dick and Alfred act like sitcom morons. Thank goodness Batman recovers fast.
The Bruce Patterson inks make Newton look like (a better) Jim Aparo. It’s clean, solid superhero art but it’s missing the Newton feel.
The Batgirl backup is overwritten; Randall loves her some wordy exposition. The art is too design oriented; way too static.
The Millionaire Contract; writers, Gerry Conway and Paul Levitz; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Bruce Patterson; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. He with Secrets Fears the Sound…; writer, Barbara J. Randall; artist, Trevor von Eeden; colorist, Jerry Serpe; letterer, Milt Snapinn. Editor, Dick Giordano; publisher, DC Comics.
They’re really dragging out the Batman turns into a vampire thing. I think this issue is the fourth or fifth of the story. I guess it’s fine, since it’s Colan and DeZuniga again and I am curious how everything is going to tie together.
Conway and Levitz are finally bringing Vicki Vale into Batman’s story, with Dick Grayson (as an evil, mind controlled vampire) kidnapping her.
The approach to vampires is particular. There apparently aren’t–according to this issue–vampires in the DC universe, at least not enough the bad vampires here could be related to them. The vampires here have their own origin and their own vampire hunter. It’s a lot of backstory, but I guess Conway and Levitz wanted to give Colan something to draw to resemble his Tomb of Dracula content.
The Batgirl as snake lady backup mercifully ends. It’s supposed to be tragic, but it’s just silly instead.
The Monster in the Mirror; writers, Gerry Conway and Paul Levitz; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Tony DeZuniga; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Annette Kawecki. A Tale of Two Serpents!; writer, Cary Burkett; penciller, Jose Delbo; inker, Joe Giella; colorist, Tom Ziuko; letterer, Janice Chiang. Editor, Dick Giordano; 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.
Ugh. “Matches” Malone is so goofy. Why hasn’t anyone modernized him….
Otherwise, it’s a decent issue. The Chiaramonte inks are the best so far. It’s not the best Newton, but it’s good.
Conway gets a lot of story going–Bruce is in LA investigating a school for criminals, Dick is stalking his ex-girlfriend (who seems to be in a cult) and Alfred is trying to convince Vicki Vale Bruce isn’t Batman. Only Gordon is missing, which Bruce comments on at one point.
The exposition–the only place where Conway ever goes overboard–is in check; he’s able to bring enough humanity to the characters, it overpowers any plot silliness.
Too bad he’s got Bruce romancing Vicki though. It’d have been more interesting if it’d been Alfred, especially after this issue’s events.
The Batgirl backup is awful. Batgirl fights with Lady Viper for the entire story. Nicely, the lame writing distracts from the art.
The Academy of Crime, Part One: College for Killers; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Don Newton; inker, Frank Chiaramonte; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. In the Coils of the Serpent!; writer, Cary Burkett; penciller, Jose Delbo; inker, Joe Giella; colorist, Tom Ziuko; letterer, Phil Felix. Editor, Dick Giordano; publisher, DC Comics.
What a weak issue. I mean… it’s really weak. It’s competent in a way someone spending sixty cents might not complain, but it’s not good at all.
The feature is a Maxie Zeus story. Batman’s hunting him through a snow storm. There’s a scene where Dick and Alfred talk about worrying about him. It’s like they’re his wives waiting at home–which may or may not be a good take on the relationships, but Wein doesn’t explore it.
Instead, he introduces this hippie mountain man who loves all life. Maxie Zeus eventually kills him (after the mountain man loses it because Zeus kills a bird).
The art’s decent–Chiaramonte continues to be a bad inker for Newton–but the story’s just lame.
The Batgirl backup is terrible too. It’s Batgirl versus “the Queen of Serpents,” a circus performer who magically changes into a snake.
The issue’s just a complete misfire.
Haven!; writer, Len Wein; penciller, Don Newton; inker, Frank Chiaramonte; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Costanza. Sharper Than a Serpent’s Tooth!; writer, Cary Burkett; penciller, Jose Delbo; inker, Joe Giella; colorist, Tom Ziuko; letterer, Phil Felix. Editors, Dave Manak and Dick Giordano; publisher, DC Comics.
How did DC let this one get to the printers? Chiaramonte’s inks are a complete disaster. Maybe Newton was in a rush and Chiaramonte had to cover a lot but… it doesn’t even look like Newton here.
The story’s got some interesting parts, not the “Batman is missing” parts (Two-Face has kidnapped him and is holding him prisoner, keeping him alive due to lucky–or unlucky–coin tosses). Jim Gordon’s out of his job, which is interesting, Vicki Vale is telling Alfred she knows Bruce’s secret… unfortunately, neither of these parts get any real attention once the action starts. We also don’t get to find out why Two-Face’s girlfriend hates Batman. In a way, it’s “real,” but it’s also some sloppy editing.
The Batgirl backup is atrocious. Worst Delbo art yet (I make that comment a lot). But the writing’s bad too. The story’s trite, obvious and boring.
…Is Better Than None!; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Don Newton; inker, Frank Chiaramonte; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. Duel with Demons!; writer, Cary Burkett; penciller, Jose Delbo; inker, Joe Giella; colorist, Tom Ziuko; letterer, Adam Kubert. Editors, Dave Manak and Dick Giordano; publisher, DC Comics.
Colan and Janson are back in sync, which is good because Conway’s overwriting the dialogue again. It’s like he can’t decide if Batman is supposed to think or talk his plans for athletic feats. This time I was actually wondering if Batman was talking to the villain, since his expository dialogue to himself comes in the middle of a conversation.
It’s a pretty weak story. Conway’s finishing two-parter introducing a new villain (Dr. Death–I don’t think he has any further appearances) and there’s not a lot of time for subplots. Robin’s sick, so Batman’s all upset… Vicki Vale is out to prove Bruce is Batman, which might screw up their romance… and the new Gotham City mayor is a corrupt moron.
The good art helps a lot.
The Batgirl backup is incredibly mean–with Barbara up against a vicious motorcycle gang. Worst Delbo art I’ve seen so far.
The Fatal Prescription of Doctor Death!; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Klaus Janson; colorist, Adrienne Roy. Riders in the Night!; writer, Cary Burkett; penciller, Jose Delbo; inker, Joe Giella; colorist, Tom Ziuko. Letterer, John Costanza; editors, Dave Manak and Dick Giordano; publisher, DC Comics.
There are two Mad Hatters? I’m now incredibly confused. According to this issue, there was an original Mad Hatter and then a replacement and then the original came back. At least in the eighties.
The Mad Hatter story–which gets the cover–is sort of a fake A plot, since the issue mostly concentrates on the Gotham City mayoral race. Conway starts the issue with it and he ends the issue with it. The Hatter stuff in the middle is just to provide a fight scene or two (and a supervillain for the cover).
The Colan and Janson art is nice–but I still don’t think Janson is a good inker for Colan. Colan’s figures are lithe, Janson’s inks aren’t. So, while playing to neither artist’s strength, it’s still a very interesting looking, well illustrated book.
The Batgirl backup mostly continues Barbara’s whining about not being Supergirl. But not terrible.
Head-Hunt By a Mad Hatter; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Gene Colan; inker and colorist, Klaus Janson; letterer, Ben Oda. Bride of Destruction!; writer, Cary Burkett; penciller, Jose Delbo; inker, Joe Giella; colorist, Tom Ziuko; letterer, John Costanza. Editors, Dave Manak and Dick Giordano; publisher, DC Comics.
Conway really lays on the melodrama for his resolution to Bruce and Selina’s romance–Catwoman’s still too much in the picture for her to be able to stick it out–but it still works somehow.
The major part of the story is Catman coming back for revenge on Batman and Catwoman. This issue might be the first Catman story I’ve read as an adult (certainly in memory) and he comes off as an annoying whiner. Still, I’ll agree he’s dangerous–but so’s Catwoman, right? Conway plays her like a damsel in distress here, like Selina Kyle is only Catwoman when she’s in costume.
Still, with Newton and Adkins and Conway’s earnest (if occasionally saccharine) writing for Bruce and Selina, it works.
The Batgirl backup, teaming her up with Supergirl, is lame as far as the evil, big-headed villain goes. But, Batgirl’s jealousy of Supergirl makes it a worthwhile read.
Nine Lives Has the Cat…; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Don Newton; inker, Dan Adkins; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. The Fires of Destruction!; writer, Cary Burkett; penciller, Jose Delbo; inker, Joe Giella; colorist, Tom Ziuko; letterer, Milt Snapinn. Editors, Dave Manak and Dick Giordano; publisher, DC Comics.