Ladies and gentlemen… the writing stylings of Roy Thomas! Yay! Yay!
Oh, wait. Umm. No. Not yay.
I suppose if someone wanted to read some really bad seventies young person counterculture dialogue, he or she could read Roy Thomas’s Adam Warlock story. It’s painful to read. And eventually painful to see too.
It’s another issue where Gil Kane’s art falls apart after a certain point. There’s this private detective who Kane draws terribly, but also disturbingly. He looks like an evil, poorly drawn Peter Lorre.
Oh, and the villains. The villains are these giant animals–a rat, a snake–and Kane butchers them. It’s like he can’t draw anything but regular people. Worse, the art all starts good and then plummets.
It’s a confusing story. Thomas loves to overwrite.
There’s a Jimmy Woo backup too, from Jack Kirby. It’s not any good, but it’s mildly interesting as a fifties relic.
This issue isn’t just easily the worst one, so far, of Planet of the Apes, it’s bad.
Moench runs into two big problems. I won’t even bother mentioning how Herb Trimpe is not of the artistic caliber the series usually has illustrating. No, Moench instead finds a big old issue with each of his stories, the original one and the adaptation.
In the original one, he continues his tale of the time traveller in search of the lost astronauts from the first movie. Only Moench apparently wasn’t allowed to use any of the original apes (much less the humans) so it makes no sense. He’s got major continuity problems and doesn’t do anything to explain them.
Alcala’s still good on the Conquest adaptation, but Moench is racing through it. His dialogue’s nonsensical and he’s only barely following the movie.
The series has been excellent until now… the issue’s rather upsetting.
The art this issue is a mess. Buscema and Adkins each hurriedly handled a half of the book. I assume Windsor-Smith was speeding along too because the result is people with huge eyes and minuscule noses. Sometimes it looks like Conan’s face is off-center on his head. It’s an ugly issue, which is too bad.
The story is mostly solid. Thomas is adapting God in the Bowl and has a lot in Conan’s head at the end. Except they don’t visualize what Conan’s seeing, it’s all in the narration. So even though Conan’s fighting a serpent god, he’s thinking about far more visually intriguing things.
The fault must be with the hurriedness—Windsor-Smith’s panel composition isn’t up to par here either (the letters page mentions the rush). Thomas does manage to get a lot in—his one page third act is the series norm; it reads fine.
The Lurker Within; writer, Roy Thomas; penciller, Barry Windsor-Smith; inkers, Sal Buscema and Dan Adkins; colorist, Mimi Gold; letterer, Sam Rosen; editor, Stan Lee; publisher, Marvel Comics.
Thomas and Windsor-Smith are off to a great start. Windsor-Smith’s art is, of course, not as finished as he’s become, but he does have some amazing panels. Oddly, when he’s at his lesser, he resembles an unintentional Mike Ploog (especially in the faces—but sharp compared to Ploog’s roundedness). It’s very strange.
The story introduces Conan but also gives the reader some sense of the world he’s in. Thomas has this sort of time machine device, which might not make any sense, but it does the job of placing the events.
It’s an action issue—the present action takes place over less than a day—and Thomas works in a number of scenes. It’s a full read, ending with Conan alone. It sort of starts with him alone, moves him into having companions and leaves him worse than he started.
There’s an energy and excitement to the book.
The Coming of Conan!; writer, Roy Thomas; penciller, Barry Windsor-Smith; inker, Dan Adkins; colorist, Mimi Gold; letterer, Sam Rosen; editor, Stan Lee; publisher, Marvel 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.
I’ve been trudging through Conway’s Batman comics the last few days–maybe the Irv Novick art on Batman is getting me down–so it’s nice this issue of Detective Comics is fantastic. It’s a completely absurd story about one of Bruce Wayne’s egyptologist friends going nuts and kidnapping Selina Kyle because he thinks they’re reincarnated Ancient Egyptians and he’s going to send them to the afterworld together.
So, clearly, it’s up to Bruce to figure it all out and save Selina.
Conway’s got Don Newton and Dan Adkins on the art and it’s just fantastic. What Conway brings special is the humanizing of Bruce Wayne–Batman’s a tool of Bruce’s here–and it’s Bruce whose desires are paramount. Specifically, Bruce has got it bad for Selina.
It’s too bad the Batman series isn’t on par with Detective.
The Batgirl versus a mad scientist backup is silly; Delbo’s art doesn’t help.
Secret of the Sphinx Sinister!; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Don Newton; inker, Dan Adkins; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. The Attack of the Annihilator!; writers, Wendy Beraud and Cary Burkett; penciller, Jose Delbo; inker, Joe Giella; colorist, Carl Gafford; letterer, John Costanza. Editors, Dave Manak and Dick Giordano; publisher, DC Comics.
Conway doesn’t do much with Gotham City this issue, instead it’s just Batman in pursuit of the villainous Manikin. Except, of course, it’s not clear how villainous the reader is supposed to find her. She’s a tragic villain–Conway doesn’t give her any resolution past surviving, but I suppose there might be an insanity defense in her future.
Unfortunately, when it does come back to the prologue to the previous issue–Batman saved the Manikin (I assume the spelling is so DC could trademark the name) from a car bombing–there’s no real reaction from Batman. It’s all in a day’s work; Conway taking the time to make the Manikin and Batman have some history is pointless.
Still, it’s competent and nears being touching. Or at least implies nearing it.
The backup stories work. Barr’s regular people of Gotham is fanciful real life. Rozakis’s four page mystery is decent filler.
Dressed to Die!; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Don Newton; inker, Dan Adkins; colorist, Adrienne Roy. The Pursuit of Joy; writer, Mike W. Barr; artist, Dan Spiegle; colorist, Tatjana Wood. Diamonds Aren’t Forever!; writer, Bob Rozakis; penciller, Trevor von Eeden; inker, Steve Mitchell; colorist, Roy. Letterer, Ben Oda; editors, Dave Manak and Dick Giordano; publisher, DC Comics.
Dan Adkins’s inks are a mess here. Because of them, there’s barely one good panel of Don Newton drawing Batman versus a werewolf. The story’s something of a surprise–with Conway concentrating solely on Batman; I assumed the issue, since Conway did Werewolf by Night, would be Batman meets Jack Russell, but it’s anything but.
Since the majority of the story takes place in Alaska, after Conway does some background plotting in Gotham with Batman battling a politician, it’s sort of hard to judge. It’s got a lot a of potential, but not much of it is realized. When Batman gives his reason for wearing his costume in the Alaskan wilderness, it just made me think about how much cooler it would be if he were just Bruce Wayne.
The Batgirl backup features her going after a hunchback killer. It’s not bad, but the Delbo art is weak; he’s really hacking.
Werewolf Moon; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Don Newton; inker, Dan Adkins; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. Hunt for a Hunchback Killer; writer, Cary Burkett; penciller, Jose Delbo; inker, Joe Giella; colorist, Carl Gafford; letterer, John Costanza. Editors, Burkett and Dick Giordano; publisher, DC Comics.
So the Joker breaks out of Arkham for no reason other than to create an elaborate room of deadly toys to kill Batman. It’s definitely insane, but also completely idiotic.
This issue makes me wonder if there were (and are) editorial mandates for how often a villain has to appear. Maybe it had been a while so the Joker had to show up–even Batman and Gordon comment on the contrived nature of his appearance–he escaped from Arkham, who didn’t let anyone know because they lost his paperwork… forgetting they had the Joker incarcerated.
Besides that ludicrous element, it’s a fine comic–the artwork is phenomenal and Conway has some great Batman investigating scenes and Gotham City details. And some wonderful close third person Joker narration.
The backup, with Gordon fighting a corrupt cop, is the reverse. A great plot, but Kupperberg overwrites it. Delbo’s weak art hurts too.
The Joker’s Rumpus Room Revenge!; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Don Newton; inker, Dan Adkins; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. A Day in the Life of a Cop; writer, Paul Kupperberg; penciller, Jose Delbo; inker, Joe Giella; colorist, Carl Gafford; letterer, Pierre Bernard Jr. Editor, Paul Levitz; publisher, DC Comics.
Now there’s a done-in-one. Wow. Conway fits a ton into the issue, which boils down to another poisoned Batman goes after the Scarecrow story, but with all sorts of decoration. It opens with Batman–Bruce mooning over Selina no less–going about his routine. He gets a mysterious dart shot at him and strange things start happening.
Well, as everyone’s going nuts over Batman, Conway brings in the Scarecrow (he shot the dart). Then Conway brings in Robin and Batgirl to investigate and fight the Scarecrow. Batman has to save them, but all of it requires a whole bunch of plotting. And Conway doesn’t cheap on the introductions–he spends time introducing each development.
The result is a rather pleasing read. Yeah, sure, Conway’s got Newton on the art so it’s magnificent looking, but that plotting is the real star.
The conclusion’s somewhat weak, but Conway doesn’t seem to be writing for it.
The 6 Days of the Scarecrow; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Don Newton; inker, Dan Adkins; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda; editor, Paul Levitz; publisher, DC Comics.
So… Alfred’s somebody’s baby daddy. That little detail is sort of overlooked in this issue. Not only is he a baby daddy, he’s an emotionally disconnected one (he financially supports her, but won’t tell her his identity–I think they almost used a similar thing in Batman and Robin to explain Alicia Silverstone’s Batgirl’s history). It’s actually a neat development….
And the comic needs all the neat developments it can get because the mystery aspect is exceptionally lame. Of all the cops in France, Batman doesn’t just get a corrupt one, he also gets the one who’s had plastic surgery to disguise his identity (he was a Nazi collaborator) and he’s the killer Batman seeks.
Kind of nicely coincidental.
Batman also discovers Mlle. Marie didn’t die–but he doesn’t investigate that revelation.
The Batgirl backup is so-so. She easily overcomes her adversary, kind of making it all pretty pointless.
Who Shot Mademoiselle Marie?; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Don Newton; inker, Dan Adkins; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. To Live a Nightmare!; writer, Cary Burkett; penciller, Jose Delbo; inker, Joe Giella; colorist, Gene D’Angelo; letterer, John Costanza. Editor, Paul Levitz; publisher, DC Comics.
I love the scene with the Paris police giving Batman the okay because of his “unofficial” Interpol status. I wonder if Conway realized how silly the scene reads, given he’s sitting there in the office in his costume. Maybe Batman needs a different costume for such official meetings.
Otherwise, the issue’s decent.
Bruce heads to Paris, following Alfred and Lucius. No, they’re not secretly gay; it turns out they both fought in the French resistance and one of them is being accused of murder by their old compatriots. Half of that description one could get from the cover.
The art’s nice and Conway’s characterization of Bruce as caring and maybe even doting is welcome. His Batman is very affable.
The Batgirl backup is solid too, even though it’s an incredibly dark story. The villain, a voodoo guy, decides to ruin Batgirl’s life. Nearly the whole story is people mistreating Barbara.
The Man Who Killed Mademoiselle Marie!; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Don Newton; inker, Dan Adkins; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. The Five-Fold Revenge of Dr. Voodoo; writer, Cary Burkett; penciller, Jose Delbo; inker, Joe Giella; colorist, Gene D’Angelo; letterer, John Costanza. Editor, Paul Levitz; publisher, DC Comics.
Well, Batman fights the crooked miners union again this issue… but this time… he wins!
Actually, it’s a really nice story about Batman and Blockbuster saving a bunch of miners in a collapsed shaft. Conway takes his time, reintroducing everything from last issue (I love the recaps comics used to integrate into the stories), then basically doing an all-action story. Only, it’s not rushed and the Newton artwork is just beautiful.
And the whole story with Blockbuster, the character arc it puts him on, it’s a nice end to the character. I don’t think this version stayed in continuity–Conway treats him kind of like the Frankenstein Monster, the misunderstood beast–but it’s a good finish. There’s a touching scene with Blockbuster saving a little kid.
The Batgirl story is probably the best written of this “Barbara Gordon–Murderer!” arc, but the artwork’s loose. Giella’s inks are way off.
Allies in the Shadows; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Don Newton; inker, Dan Adkins. Chains of Guilt!; writer, Cary Burkett; penciller, Jose Delbo; inker, Joe Giella; colorist, Gene D’Angelo; letterer, John Costanza. Editor, Paul Levitz; publisher, DC Comics.
It’s Batman versus the crooked coal miners and guess who wins?
Okay, maybe I’m abridging a little, but not by much. Conway makes Batman a little too human here, way too fallible (he gets hit in the head with a shovel–isn’t he supposed to know when people are sneaking up on him?).
It’s an odd complaint and one I wouldn’t have without that development, because the humanity’s otherwise nice. Most of the issue–after the sort of prologue with Blockbuster finding some nice people to take him in–is all about Batman worrying about Blockbuster (this Blockbuster is the innocent one, not the evil one).
The Batgirl backup story–with Barbara Gordon getting framed for murder–is a little better than the previous issue’s entry. There’s still a lot of talking and way too much story is conveyed in it, but the frame-up is interesting enough.
Night of the Savage; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Don Newton; inker, Dan Adkins; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. The Tightening Web!; writer, Cary Burkett; penciller, Jose Delbo; inker, Joe Giella; colorist, Gene D’Angelo; letterer, Albert De Guzman. Editor, Paul Levitz; publisher, DC Comics.