It’s a strange issue with Batman chasing the Penguin down to Antarctica to stop him from selling military secrets to the Russians. Moench throws in a couple twists, both of them vaguely amusing, but they come after his two instances of Batman overcoming impossible odds to succeed. They aren’t as amusing after Moench’s sapped all the suspense from the comic.
There’s a little with the subplots–family services is after Jason, Vicki Vale has an unwanted suitor–but I don’t think Bruce Wayne even makes an appearance this issue. I should have been keeping track of how often Moench gave him a scene.
The art’s decent. The Antarctic setting isn’t much, however; it’s not Colan’s fault, Moench just doesn’t have much good action for it.
Speaking of bad action, the Green Arrow backup is inane again. Worse, there aren’t even the now regular three excellent McManus panels. It’s a drag.
C–C-Cold!; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. Green Arrow, The Nightfly; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Shawn McManus; inker, Sal Trapani; colorist, Jeanine Casey; letterer, Bob Lappan. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.
There’s something off about Colan’s layouts for the feature story. Moench splits it between Batman and Robin for the first half–Batman dealing with his Scarecrow-induced fears, Robin dealing with the Scarecrow himself–and it’s a busy issue. Somehow, it’s too busy for Colan, who doesn’t use panels but lets everything melt together. It gets muddled fast.
Still, lovely art. Just not great narrative art.
The story’s all action. Moench only spends a page on a subplot–the Dr. Fang one–and doesn’t even do much interaction between Batman and Robin or Batman and Scarecrow. Robin gets some decent face-off time with the Scarecrow though.
The end’s too sudden but it’s an okay enough story. Muddled or not, Colan and Smith draw creepy well.
McManus has a few excellent panels on the Green Arrow backup but the story’s pretty lame. Cavalieri’s big reveal is both predictable and confusing.
Something Scary; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. Green Arrow, In Cold Type!; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Shawn McManus; inker, Sal Trapani; colorist, Shelley Eiber; letterer, Bob Lappan. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.
Bob Smith inking Don Newton is something to see. There’s almost an Eisner-like quality to the faces. It’s beautiful art on the feature.
But Moench’s writing is awesome too, whether it’s the main plot line with Batman teaming up with the Rocky stand-in to hunt down a killer or Jason feeling bad he was so crappy to Alfred’s daughter. Moench actually asks a bit of the reader–Vicki Vale figures in, but she hasn’t even had an appearance recently–but the scenes pay off.
The big boxing finale is only okay, however. Something about the way Batman stands down doesn’t play right. The epilogue’s very strong though. Moench’s trying hard to do something special with the comic.
Sadly, slapped on to this ambition is another odd Cavalieri’s Green Arrow backup. Half of this one is dedicated to the evils of corporate journalism. Cavalieri just can’t make Ollie likable.
Boxing; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Don Newton; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy. Green Arrow, The Devil You Don’t Know; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Shawn McManus; inker, Sal Trapani; colorist, Jeanine Casey. Letterer, Ben Oda; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.
It’s a strange issue and not just because the feature’s incredibly boring. It’s a sting operation where Batman follows the new Catman–who is the new Catman because the old one sold out his cellmate and Batman and Gordon let this new guy become Catman–to make sure he gets safely to his hidden loot. Robin and Gordon follow Batman to clean up any further messes.
It probably could be good, but Moench focuses way too much on the annoying new Catman guy. Besides his grating thought clouds, the issue is mostly just awkward banter from Robin and Gordon.
It’s a goofy story; Moench’s trying way too hard to force two parters between this series and Batman.
But the wackiest thing is Cavalieri’s Green Arrow backup. It’s an ode to John Lennon. It’s not particularly good, but Cavalieri really tries hard to make it work. The weirdness helps it along.
Clothes Make the Cat(man); writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. Green Arrow, Three Years Ago Today; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Shawn McManus; inker, Pablo Marcos; colorist, Jeanine Casey; letterer, Albert De Guzman. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.
Quick observation about the Green Arrow backup before I forget–McManus has some great panels. Not all of them, not consistently, but he has some amazing close-ups.
The feature story has Batman getting called down to the sewer by a Mexican immigrant. Moench goes for this sensitive story about a guy without a country or a present; once again, Batman is barely a character in his own book but Moench makes it work. The writing isn’t perfect, but it reads sincere and ambitious.
Of course, given the guy called Batman down because he found a body, eventually things lead to an action sequence. Colan and Smith do better on everything than they do on the action scene. Maybe the sewer setting.
The subplots–Dr. Fang, Alfred’s daughter–both get some page time too.
Moench’s doing very well. Even the Arrow backup is better than usual. It’s a good issue.
Down Below; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. Green Arrow, Strike First!; writer, Joey Cavalieri; artist, Shawn McManus; colorist, Jeanine Casey; letterer, Bob Lappan. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.
Much of the issue consists of Alfred whining to his daughter about being the only father she has left. Yes, the poor woman is distraught, but it’s like Moench couldn’t come up with anything else for Alfred to do. Whine or be an action hero.
Similarly, Batman doesn’t have much to do. Moench doesn’t let Alfred have the whole story–because Alfred couldn’t deal with Deadshot–but he can’t insert Batman into it because he plum doesn’t belong. It should be Alfred’s story and it isn’t.
The mystery of the stolen paintings also gets ignored for Deadshot’s big escape sequence and the chase. Moench’s not exactly desperate to fill pages, but he definitely doesn’t have enough story when both Batman and Deadshot are unengaged participants.
The Green Arrow story ends with a big movie mystery reveal of the villain. Cavalieri has some goofy lines, but it’s much better than usual.
Facing the Dark, Blindly…; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. Green Arrow, The Black Box IV: Short Fuse; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Shawn McManus; inker, Sal Trapani; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, Bob Lappan. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.
Doug Moench has two subplots going; it’s hard to say if one’s a B and the other’s a C, or if they’re both equally weighted. There’s a new crime boss in Gotham, at least Bullock thinks so and Gordon disagrees. Moench likes playing the two off each other quite a bit.
Then there’s his Alfred and his daughter intrigue subplot. That one I assume will eventually involve Batman.
As for Batman, he’s got a beat-up Robin to deal with and that whole thing turns out to be a setup for a plot twist. Moench’s very aware he’s dealing with a limited amount of time–he immediately references how long Jason Todd has been Robin, giving the issue a sense of urgency.
It’s hard to see where it’s going in some ways, in other ways it’s obvious. But it’s sturdy stuff.
Awful Green Arrow backup though; really… just awful.
One Hole in a Quilt of Madness; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. Green Arrow, The Black Box III: On the Cheap; writer, Joey Cavalieri; artist, Shawn McManus; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, Bob Lappan. Editors, Nicola Cuti and Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.
Some weirdness this issue. First off, Moench reveals Jason Todd doesn’t want to be called Robin either. It’s peculiar enough it doesn’t feel like more padding from Moench on the subject, even though it probably is just more fluff.
Then there’s Commissioner Gordon. He’s back at work and he’s a complete jerk. Moench shows the legal aftermath of Batman apprehending a suspect and it gives the impression no one Batman apprehends ever ends up in jail for a long time. Moench’s trying to be realistic, which sort of works. The scene’s good as long as one doesn’t think too hard.
Colan doesn’t spend a lot of time on the layouts–some pages are really spare–but with Alcala back, the art’s great.
The Green Arrow backup gets worse, with Cavalieri introducing a lame biker gang. The McManus inks aren’t interesting this time around, he’s barely visible. It’s embarrassingly bad stuff.
It’s an issue of inappropriate inking. Smith is so reductive on Colan’s Batman inks, the story loses any visceral impact. Instead, it becomes almost academic–seeing where Colan’s pencils have been too diluted for a page to work. The layouts are still fantastic, but not the finished art.
Moench resolves his Gordon storyline–while still stoking the Jason and Bruce one (and no one misses Alfred, which is strange)–and it’s a flop. It’s like no one told Moench Barbara Gordon was also Batgirl. And Moench attempts at inspirational flop painfully. It doesn’t help he’s got a bunch of hackneyed thugs out of a forties comic.
Still, great Colan layouts.
Then there’s the Green Arrow backup. Truly lame writing from Cavalieri can’t overshadow the odd art. Chuck Patton is a boring, superhero penciller. But Shawn McManus inks him, adding a lot of McManus lines. The story’s artistically interesting, if terrible.
Bob Smith is not the best inker for Colan. He reigns him in way too much. There’s still some great Colan panel layouts this issue though and his Joker has to be seen. Colan’s Joker is hideous with insanity, an awkwardly lump figure, not the usual anorexic. Every Joker panel is great in some way or another.
Moench’s story involves the Joker wanting to start a rival to Disneyland. It’s too absurd and contrived, but the art sells it and Moench’s writing of Batman and the Joker is strong. The humor’s good too. Moench has some good jokes here, especially those involving the Joker.
Alfred’s subplot is revealed and, once again, Moench seems to be rehabbing Harvey Bullock. Both are still too undeveloped to make much impression.
The Green Arrow back-up again has decent enough Moore art, but Cavalieri’s banter is terrible. The seven pages can’t end soon enough.
One could just read this issue for the art. Alcala beautifully complements Gene Colan. He sort of brings out the lusciousness, but reigns it in just enough. Colan’s never too lush; Alcala is never reductive.
The story’s not bad, but Moench doesn’t quite sell Jason Todd, detective. He investigates, but without any finesse. The scenes where Jason’s talking to potential witnesses flop; no one would talk freely considering Jason’s suspicious behavior.
For the finish, Moench makes an incredibly odd choice–he doesn’t reveal the villain’s face. I had to reread it to make sure I wasn’t missing it.
Moench’s ambition outpaces his skill on the difficult Bruce and Jason character drama.
The Green Arrow backup has decent, if strangely constrained art from Jerome Moore and Mike DeCarlo. Joey Cavalieri makes a funny Superman peanut butter joke. It’s nowhere near as bad as usual.
This issue is weird. It’s great too–I wonder if Moench created Nocturna with Colan in mind, since she basically looks like a vampire–but it’s weird.
There’s some action at the end, but the most striking parts of the comic aren’t the action scenes. Moench is serious about his rumination on darkness and he follows through with it at the end. It’s unexpected, but quite good.
The other striking scene is when Nocturna talks to Jason Todd. It’s a contrived encounter, but Moench sublimely makes the scene work. It’s also interesting to just hear Jason Todd try to explain his living situation. It pairs well with Bruce’s later order to Alfred–Alfred’s not allowed to report Jason missing.
The art from Colan and Giordano is fantastic. Moench’s securely in his stride now.
Cavalieri’s Green Arrow is, once again, incredibly lame. New penciller Adrian Gonzales has big problems with perspective.
I try to be open-minded about Cavalieri and Cullins’s Green Arrow back-ups, but this one peeved me. Moench doesn’t get enough time with his Batman story–which is his fault for not pacing it out right–but come on. Who carries about Green Arrow’s lame villain? Though inker Frank Giacoia does ruin Cullins’s pencils in sometimes amusing ways.
Moench and Colan (joined by Dick Giordano on inks), on the other hand, do a fabulous Batman story about Bruce losing. He loses in a fight (the bad guy has better costume material), he loses Vicki Vale and he’s about to lose Jason Todd. His life, as much as a billionaire’s life can, is falling apart.
And Moench and Colan nail it. There’s a slick noir tone–Colan excels–with Moench expounding on the idea of nighttime habits as they relates to Batman.
It’s great. Shame it runs too short.
Gene Colan’s first issue on Detective (with Moench) is unexpected. There’s a dreamy, otherworldly, emotive quality to it. Harvey Bullock oozes repulsiveness; the symbolism becomes clear at the startling conclusion. Moench knows how to surprise–even if the cliffhanger isn’t exactly unexpected, its degree is a shock.
The issue closes up–after Batman’s adventures with Man-Bat–the new villain Moench introduced in his first issue, the Savage Skull. It’s strange reading these pre-Miller Batman comics when it was more possible for Batman to get his butt kicked by a boxer or whatnot. Moench gets that human element, the possibility of failure.
Instead of following Batman, Moench concentrates on Gordon, who’s life is crumbling. It’s effectively done, with the exposition finally a lot smoother. Maybe because of Colan’s great art.
Cavalieri and Cullin’s Green Arrow is pretty weak though. It’s incredibly juvenile, like an overlong Hostess fruit pie advertisement.