Don Newton

batman-moench

Batman 379 (January 1985)

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It’s a crazy issue. The last half has not just Robin telling Nocturna he’d love her as a man would if he were older, it’s got Batman blathering on to her about… no, I’m wrong. That thing with Robin telling his newly adopted mother he’d have the hots for her, Moench never tops that one.

It’s kind of bad and kind of great. Moench can’t do this story, he just can’t make it work–Nocturna wanting to be a crime fighting family with Robin and Batman–but he tries so hard. And then there’s a lot better stuff with Alfred feeling like he’s losing his daughter even more. That bit is good.

The Mad Hatter returns, but not with enough page time for much personality. The Hatter-Zombies are kind of a neat touch.

Sadly, Newton and Alcala go lazy from time to time. There’s way too much going on.

CREDITS

Bedtime Stories; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Don Newton; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

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batman-moench

Batman 378 (December 1984)

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I’m kind of hoping Moench’s got a good back story saved up for Nocturna. She gets what I think is her first interior monologue–if not first, first significant one she’s come back–where she’s questioning her motives. There are hints at some strange origin. It would help.

Batman too gets a lengthy internal monologue as he tries to figure out how to kill time after Nocturna’s adoption of Jason goes through. Moench even goes through Bruce’s thought processes on deciding what case to investigate. That sequence, still problematic due to the adoption thing, is nice.

The Mad Hatter also gets a subplot–he’s the cover villain–and Moench writes him rather well. He’s far more engaging than most of the regular cast.

I really wish Alfred had smacked Vicki Vale for disparaging his daughter though. Moench’s pushing the hostility between the women and it’s getting long in the toothi

CREDITS

One Hat Madder!; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Don Newton; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman 377 (November 1984)

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Moench runs directly into that Bruce Wayne problem he’s been having for a while. He has to have Bruce decide he wants to sneak around with Nocturna; it comes after a lengthy conversation with Alfred. Moench does fine with that conversation–the art from Newton and Alcala is fantastic, Newton’s compositions this issue are amazing–but he hasn’t established any of Bruce’s romances well.

It doesn’t help the issue starts with an absurd courtroom scene with Bruce acting nuts.

As for Nocturna–who Bruce apparently picks over Vicki (who he hasn’t seen romantically in five or ten issues) and Alfred’s daughter (Moench avoids a mention of her when Alfred’s talking to Bruce)–Moench basically just makes her Catwoman. The back and forth about her life of crime sounds like Batman and Catwoman.

Moench’s digging himself a deeper hole, but Newton’s apparently more than capable of getting him out of it.

CREDITS

The Slayer of Night; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Don Newton; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterers, Ben Oda and Alcala; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

batman-moench

Batman 376 (October 1984)

Batman 376

Moench has a lengthy conversation between Alfred and Bruce about the state of affairs–Jason, Bruce’s love life, a little with Batman–and it’s a decent scene. Even though much of the content is absurd, with Bruce mentioning he hadn’t thought through the legalities of being Jason’s guardian, it’s a good enough scene.

The main plot has to do with a group of thieves masquerading as party monsters–they dress as monsters for rich people’s parties. It’s decent enough stuff. Newton and Alcala do a fine job on the art. The best might be this mid-flight dive Batman takes out of a window though. Something about it is just very striking.

But there’s not much else to the issue. Jason gets a little moment where he’s rude to his new foster mother, Vicki and Julia bicker. Same old, same old.

The villains aren’t much good either.

Still, not terrible.

CREDITS

Nightmares, Inc.; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Don Newton; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

batman-moench

Batman 375 (September 1984)

Batman 375

It’s not the best issue. It’s maybe the weakest art I’ve seen from Don Newton (with Alfredo Alcala inking him). A lot of the art is still amazing–most of it probably, but there’s also a lack of detail in a lot of places. Not like Alcala’s rushed because he still over-inks a couple faces. Very strange art this issue. Unfinished or over-cooked.

But then there’s the story itself. Or, how Doug Moench tells it. He tells it in a rhyming homage to How the Grinch Stole Christmas. It’s hilarious and wonderful. The opening is good and poetic–Moench’s narration, I mean–but later on it gets funny. It’s extremely creative and Moench has some great couplets.

There’s also some good stuff with Vicki and Alfred’s daughter teaming up for an adventure. Moench writes them better than Jason and Bruce; he hasn’t found a good chemistry for them.

CREDITS

The Glacier Under Gotham!; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Don Newton; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Todd Klein; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

batman-moench

Batman 374 (August 1984)

Batman 374

This issue is particularly strong. There’s great art from Newton and Alcala on the Penguin, but there’s also a lot of good stuff from Moench.

After many issues of ignoring the supporting cast, he’s got great scenes for Vicki Vale, Alfred’s daughter and even Bullock. The Vicki Vale one is the best though–the Penguin comes in looking for her to take his picture as a promotion of his crime spree; she’s the best photographer in the city, it’s going to be art.

It also sounds a lot like the Tim Burton Batman movie with a character change.

Moench nearly brings Bruce Wayne in, something he’s not comfortable doing normally. It’s like Jason Todd was an addition to keep Bruce from having any actual stories. But here, there are a few hints Moench might change his approach.

Again, the art’s simply gorgeous. Newton and Alcala outdo themselves on this issue.

CREDITS

Pieces of Penguin!; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Don Newton; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics - Doug Moench

Detective Comics 539 (June 1984)

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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.

CREDITS

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.

batman-moench

Batman 372 (June 1984)

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Moench retells Rocky with a handful of changes. Batman isn’t the biggest one, instead it’s how upfront Moench is about race. The champ’s black, the challenger is white and Moench talks about it length. It’s not just the boxers and their managers, it’s the regular people of Gotham. It’s kind of incredible.

And the majority of the issue doesn’t have anything to do with Batman. He gets something like three or five precent when Alfred’s daughter is jealous Bruce likes Vicki Vale more than her and then a little thing about Jason wearing Dr. Fang’s fake tooth.

Otherwise, the issue is about the boxers. Moench introduces three lead characters–boxers, trainer–and gives them a bunch ambitious scenes together. His conversations don’t always come off. For instance, the hardest talk about race pushes too much on honesty.

But he always tries. Moench doesn’t wimp away from the issues he’s raising.

CREDITS

What Price, the Prize?; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Don Newton; letterer and inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Adrienne Roy; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

batman-moench

Batman 371 (May 1984)

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It’s a goofy issue to be sure, with Moench writing Catman as compulsively using words beginning with cat-. It gets annoying fast, probably before Batman even knows up.

As for the Batman and Robin development, there isn’t much to it. Instead, Moench concentrates on some subplot work with Alfred’s daughter maybe liking Bruce, which is icky, and Vicki Vale gets a brief appearance. Dr. Fang comes back for a moment too.

Moench’s Batman is a lot lighter. He’s looking forward to a new case, he jokes about the big street fight from the last issue. Then, once Catman reveals himself the villain, he’s “serious.” Or Robin keeps thinking about how he’s serious. It’s like Moench can’t decide how to characterize him. It’s Batman but Batman never gets to run the comic.

And Jason figuring out where Catman is going to strike from something at school just sounds stupid.

Odd stuff.

CREDITS

Nine Cradles of Death; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Don Newton; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

batman-moench

Batman 370 (April 1984)

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Moench certainly does have an interesting take on Bruce Wayne–he ignores Jason, who is trying to fill him in on important Batman and Robin business, because he’s trying to score with Alfred’s daughter.

In front of Alfred. It’s exceptionally seedy and kind of funny. Moench opens the issue with Robin out on patrol by himself (doesn’t make sense, but whatever) so Batman is never really the protagonist this issue. Instead, Moench sticks with Jason throughout. It’s an interesting viewpoint, even if it’s a little silly at times.

And then Bullock reveals himself–it’s not a surprise–and there’s a huge action sequence with Batman and Robin fighting like fifty thugs. Don Newton, Alfredo Alcala, fifty thugs. It looks fantastic. It doesn’t make much sense and it doesn’t matter one bit. The art’s so good, Moench can practically do anything.

And his villain, Dr. Fang, proves it. He’s super lame.

CREDITS

Up Above the Sin So High…; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Don Newton; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

batman-moench

Batman 369 (March 1984)

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Moench ends on a literal rough point–Batman smacking Deadshot around for information. The scene just feels wrong, maybe because it doesn’t seem like Deadshot should just reveal the information after one hit.

The issue opens with Alfred and his daughter on the run from Deadshot. This section is the best part of the comic, even though Moench drops too many hints about it being Deadshot after them. The cover kind of gives it away.

Batman shows up around halfway through to help them. At that point, Alfred and the daughter take a back seat to Batman going through all the clues. The clues lead to Deadshot and then Moench does these crazy thought balloons where he tries to explain both men’s motivations. It’s more for him, trying to justify their actions.

Not many subplots–Bullock maybe going dirty again, probably not.

Alcala goes overboard inking; otherwise the art’s good.

CREDITS

Target Practice; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Don Newton; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda; editors, Nicola Cuti and Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

batman-moench

Batman 368 (February 1984)

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It’s a very simple issue, but Doug Moench really does pace it all out beautifully. It’s goofy even–Moench hasn’t got down how to get his superheroes not sound silly when talking about being superheroes–but it is beautifully paced. The issue features Jason Todd’s first two nights as Robin, which end in tragedy.

Pre or post-Crisis Jason Todd was apparently always a lot of trouble (more like the writers finally realized how nuts it was to have a kid running around beating people up). There’s also a cameo from Dick Grayson and Moench, along with artists Don Newton and Alfredo Alcala, figure out how to turn it into a great guest appearance.

Even with iffy dialogue. There’s just so much texture to the characters’ interplay.

The art’s fantastic, the pacing’s fantastic, the dialogue’s problematic… it’s a pretty darn good comic. Except maybe the cliffhanger, Moench tries too hard.

CREDITS

A Revenge of Rainbows; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Don Newton; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda; editor, Nicola Cuti and Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman 306 (December 1978)

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Conway does a riff on High Noon with Batman protecting a drug dealer from the vigilante, the Black Spider. Because Conway keeps all Batman’s plans from the reader, it does have some successful plot twists.

Except maybe when Batman falls down the entire Wayne Foundation tree and lives. The only real damage is to his costume–the cowl and pants survive, but it’s shirtless Batman for the final showdown. Very, very odd.

Calnan continues to be ambitious, particularly during action scenes and they still don’t come off. But it’s not a bad feature.

Rozakis’s backup, with Batman trying to discover the identity of his master blackmailer, is pretty good. It ends unsatisfactorily for Batman, which one has to assume would happen a lot. There are some great summary panels from Newton too.

I think the backup might have more subplots than the feature… Conway’s story is professional, Rozakis’s is passionate.

CREDITS

Night of Siege; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, John Calnan; colorist, Jerry Serpe. The Mystery Murderer of “Mrs. Batman”!; writer, Bob Rozakis; penciller, Don Newton; colorist, Adrienne Roy. Inker, Dave Hunt; letterer, Ben Oda; editors, E. Nelson Bridwell and Julius Schwartz; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman 305 (November 1978)

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There’s something off about the art in the feature story. John Calnan is actually really ambitious–interesting composition, lots of dynamic movement–but none of it works. There’s no depth; someone’s hand–gesturing–will look affixed to his or her face.

Not sure if it’s inker Dave Hunt or Calnan, but since Hunt does all right inking the backup, I’m assuming Calnan.

Gerry Conway writes the feature. It’s Batman versus terrorists with a subplot about Gotham millionaires losing their fortunes. Are these two plots somehow related? Sadly, yes. Actually, Conway pulls off the connection relatively well, he just has a goofy resolution for the terrorists. There’s the reality of a terrorist threat and the unreality of a giant slot machine.

Bob Rozakis’s backup has beautiful pencils from Don Newton and goes through Batman’s investigative process. It’s pretty cool, with Batman following leads without them panning out.

Incredibly weak cliffhanger though.

CREDITS

Death-Gamble of a Darknight Detective!; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, John Calnan; colorist, Jerry Serpe. With This Ring Find Me Dead!; writer, Bob Rozakis; penciller, Don Newton; colorist, Adrienne Roy. Inker, Dave Hunt; letterer, Ben Oda; editors, E. Nelson Bridwell and Julius Schwartz; publisher, DC Comics.