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
I’m sure writer Gerry Conway wasn’t trying for a “Scooby Doo” homage, but he doesn’t quite come up with anything better. This issue features Batman and the mystery gang. Or something along those lines. Mystery Adventurers Club maybe.
It’s a bunch of Gotham citizens and celebrities who solve mysteries together, with Batman sitting–in cape–on a sofa having cookies with them. But not here, because here–with a real murder to solve–Batman is very angry with everyone. Lots of yelling.
It’s low blood sugar Batman.
Conway spends his time setting up the mystery, the clues, the solution, but no time making it an interesting comic. All of the mystery gang is disposable and forgettable, except perhaps the eventual damsel in distress.
The Michael Golden art almost makes the comic worthwhile. He’s got some great composition and some lovely panels.
It’s a fast read too, which helps a lot.
The Adventure of the Houdini Whodunit!; writer, Gerry Conway; artist, Michael Golden; colorist, Jerry Serpe; letterer, Ben Oda; editors, E. Nelson Bridwell and Julius Schwartz; publisher, DC Comics.
Really, really bad figures from Chan. Just awful. There’s one page recapping the previous issue in ten or so panels and Chan mangles the miniatures even.
It’s an ugly story.
There’s not much to the writing either. Conway hasn’t got any real subplots–the Commissioner Reeves thing goes nowhere. Batman having a hooker snitch is a little amusing, especially since she’s dressed like a chaste flasher.
And then the villain. Got to love seventies comics–the Black Spider is, you guessed it, black. I didn’t, as he has a mask so who’d know.
Conway doesn’t even seem to be trying. Some sensationalism would help.
The Rozakis Black Canary backup is terrible. Grell and Austin do okay enough on the art, but the writing’s awful. Both in the dialogue and thought balloons. There’s not a single well-written moment.
It’s a bad comic. One should avoid it if at all possible.
The Doomsday Express!; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Ernie Chan; inker, Frank McLaughlin. A Hot Time in Star City Tonight; writers, Bob Rozakis and Laurie Rozakis; penciller, Mike Grell; inker, Terry Austin. Editors, E. Nelson Bridwell, Bob Rozakis and Julius Schwartz; publisher, DC Comics.
Ernie Chan leaves a lot to be desired on the pencils. His figures are bad but his composition’s worse. He fills his panels with this terribly distended Batman. The legs move unnaturally and it looks like Chan puts in the feet last, wherever they’ll fit.
Gerry Conway’s story concerns the Black Spider killing drug dealers. Batman’s out making busts, but the collars keep getting murdered.
There’s some investigation, some brawls, a fight with the Black Spider. The most interesting aspects are Gordon quietly resenting mopping up after Batman and Bruce taking a timeout to get patched up before heading right back out.
With a different penciller, it’d probably be serviceable.
On the other hand, The Atom backup is awesome. Mike Grell and Terry Austin’s art isn’t perfect, but they handle action well. Bob Rozakis sets up the story in half a page, then just has great miniature-sized action throughout.
Death-Web; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Ernie Chan; inker, Frank McLaughlin. Crimes by Calculation; writer, Bob Rozakis; penciller, Mike Grell; inker, Terry Austin. Editors, E. Nelson Bridwell, Rozakis and Julius Schwartz; publisher, DC Comics.
Maybe DC did the whole “New 52” thing so they’d never have to address the terrible developments in Widening Gyre.
I’d respect them for that motive.
It’s just not a bad finish, with Smith killing off a familiar DC character, but a bad issue overall. Batman breaks into the Fortress of Solitude for a date with Silver. He’s got on his goofy white snow Bat-suit. Smith writes him actual banter with the goat head guy.
Then there’s the callouts to Frank Miller–Smith reveals Batman wet himself in Year One and the idiot shrink from Dark Knight shows up. It’s almost like Smith set out to write a comic to show how not to write Batman.
Oh, I forgot. There’s even banter with Deadshot. Batman ties him up for making a joke, not for committing a crime. It’s hideous.
Smith excessively congratulates himself for his singularly atrocious Batman characterization.
The Blood-Dimmed Tide is Loosed; writer, Kevin Smith; penciller, Walt Flanagan; inker, Art Thibert; colorist, Art Lyon; letterer, John J. Hill; editors, Janelle Siegel, Mike Marts and Dan Didio; publisher, DC Comics.
Oh, no, it’s another one with potential.
Smith doesn’t resolve the cliffhanger–he just has Bruce running off to avoid it. Bruce and Silver in Aspen, even in the few scenes they have, is terrible. Their trip is juxtaposed against Tim Drake Robin narrating. Smith writes all the Robin narrations the same, so it’s bland but not terrible.
Silver barely has any lines, which is great.
And then Flanagan pays an homage to the sixties show and Smith has a Tim Burton movie line in the dialogue… They’re finally being as obvious as they should be. If Gyre’s just lucky fan fiction, Smith should be aware enough to embrace it.
There’s a slight hiccup towards the end, but it has a surprisingly effective close. Smith all of a sudden decides to be authentic with people’s emotions.
It’s the first nearly okay issue.
I’m going to regret making that compliment.
Mere Anarchy; writer, Kevin Smith; penciller, Walt Flanagan; inker, Art Thibert; colorist, Art Lyon; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editors, Janelle Siegel, Mike Marts and Dan Didio; publisher, DC Comics.
Uh, oh, there are getting to be things I like here. Smith has turned it into a domestic–Batman fights crime while Silver waits home for him. The stuff with the new goat guy revealing his face to Bruce too soon is dumb; Smith can only rationalize comic book logic so far.
But it opens with a little bit about the relative lack of danger Silver Age goof villains had–before the Joker appeared (while not technically accurate, Smith sells it)–Smith’s trying things a little again. He’s treating Widening Gyre like it’s disconnected from the other Batman comics, which I do like.
He still writes Silver poorly. One can tell he’s writing the dialogue for Ben Affleck and Gwyneth Paltrow. He also writes Catwoman poorly–and Flanagan draws her even worse–but he’s trying to give Batman a grown-up problem.
The ambition is nice. Comic’s still lame though.
The Centre Cannot Hold; writer, Kevin Smith; penciller, Walt Flanagan; inker, Art Thibert; colorist, Art Lyon; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editors, Janelle Siegel, Mike Marts and Dan Didio; publisher, DC Comics.
This issue’s easily the best and I’m not entirely sure why. It’s a romance montage–Bruce and Silver off in paradise during the day, Batman out at night. There’s some stuff with the goat vigilante, who Smith writes like Brody from Mallrats and that scene is awful… and Smith writes Silver awful and the whole thing of unbelievably rich people romancing is lame… But, somehow, the issue is a lot better than expected.
It’s awful to be sure, but Smith’s trying something in his Batman narration. Bruce is learning. These self-observations are trite and beneath Dr. Phil, but Smith is trying.
Flanagan’s art doesn’t help. He gives all the superheroes besides Bruce long, dirty nineties hair. Tim Drake Robin looks like a girl.
Smith does get in an extra guest star–Aquaman–who he writes a little better than Batman, but not much.
I still loathe the comic though.
Things Fall Apart; writer, Kevin Smith; penciller, Walt Flanagan; inker, Art Thibert; colorist, Art Lyon; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editors, Janelle Siegel, Mike Marts and Dan Didio; publisher, DC Comics.
More flashbacks, more guest stars… and some fat jokes. The child murderer at the open is practically a lookalike for Silent Bob. Batman keeps thinking of him as the fat guy, but he doesn’t actually catch him, someone else does.
Then Silver St. Cloud shows up. I’m skipping some of the lame narration to get to Flanagan and Smith having a disconnect. Once Silver shows up, Smith’s got Batman going on and on about his age–and Silver’s. Except Flanagan draws them both basically as twenty somethings. Certainly not as people in their late thirties or forties. It’s unclear what Smith’s going for.
Smith writes Silver worse than he writes Batman. He also writes Gordon poorly. Maybe Alfred isn’t terrible. Superman is all right, I guess. But there’s more than enough bad Batman to make up for the rest.
The cliffhanger is a success though, Smith manages a good surprise.
The Falconer; writer, Kevin Smith; penciller, Walt Flanagan; inker, Art Thibert; colorist, Art Lyon; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editors, Janelle Siegel, Mike Marts and Dan Didio; publisher, DC Comics.
Leave it to Kevin Smith to try to make Batman sound hip. He also sounds really self-aware, which doesn’t really work for the character. I was half expecting Smith to make a gay joke, but then remembered it’s the one thing DC editorial won’t allow.
This issue has Batman teaming up with Robin in flashback, then Nightwing in present, then heading off on his own to Arkham. All while Smith overdoes the narration. His Batman is desperate to stay relevant–making notes to check pop culture references and so on–while he thinks about retiring the Robin mantle.
If it weren’t for Walt Flanagan’s art, if DC had paired Smith with an established comic artist, Widening Gyre might not read like a vanity project. But with Flanagan–who’s competent but clearly not professional–Smith’s script feels like a long joke at the reader’s expense.
He does pace it okay though.
Turning and Turning; writer, Kevin Smith; penciller, Walt Flanagan; inker, Art Thibert; colorist, Art Lyon; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editors, Janelle Siegel, Mike Marts and Dan Didio; publisher, DC Comics.