It says something when Moench’s got more character in two or three dialogue interchanges between Jason and Alfred’s daughter–they don’t like each other or something–than in a bunch of lengthy conversations between Batman and Robin. Family services takes Jason Todd away because Bruce Wayne neglected the legal process.
Yeah, right. Seems unlikely, especially when he tells the Wayne Foundation board they exist to do his bidding. It’s a megalomaniac scene and just shows how little Moench has to say about the character. The supporting cast? The villains? Moench does great. Batman? Not so much. Not at all.
If it weren’t for the moody artwork, there wouldn’t even be a point to having Batman and Robin show up in the comic. Everything else is better.
In the feature, anyway, because there’s nothing worse than the Green Arrow backup. Cavalieri introduces so many new character names, it story’s almost incomprehensible.
Between Two Nights; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. Green Arrow, The Nightfly II: The Turn of an Unfriendly Card ; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Shawn McManus; inker, Sal Trapani; colorist, Jeanine Casey; letterer, Bob Lappan. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.
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.
It’s a strange issue. It’s gorgeous–Colan and Alcala doing a Scarecrow issue is going to be gorgeous–but there’s so much mood, it’s like Colan forgot to break out a reasonable action sequence. After the first act, when Batman and Robin get into it, Colan and Moench are in a hurry. The leads drop into an existing action scene–the Bat-Signal calling them directly to the courthouse–and it doesn’t feel right. Colan’s compositions are more static than usual too.
Then there’s how much time Moench wastes explaining the Scarecrow. First he explains why the Scarecrow is mad at the other Batman villains, then he does a recap of the Scarecrow’s origin, then he explains the new fear juice. It’s just too much.
The subplots–Vicki, Alfred’s daughter, Dr. Fang–they do get some play, but not enough.
Maybe those parts don’t matter, given the truly awesome artwork.
The Frequency of Fear; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Albert De Guzman; 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.
Wolfman splits the issue–an “epilogue” to the first arc (which is really just the last chapter) and then the beginning of a new arc.
None of the regular cast appear in the second story, except Baron Winters, and it seems like Wolfman made the readers suffer through his bad characterizations for nothing. It’s additionally frustrating because second story is engaging. The writing isn’t great–Wolfman overcooks the narration–but it’s okay.
Actually, even the first story isn’t too bad. There’s still Winters and his fear of big government (it’s amazing how seriously Wolfman takes himself), but the storyline wraps up with a nice tidy bow and an amusing finish.
Colan’s art is a lot stronger on the second story than the first, maybe because there’s actual mood and action. The art’s decidedly okay.
I wonder if Wolfman split the issue to force readers to buy into the next arc.
Marv Wolfman’s understanding of the American legal system is amazing. Baron Winters escapes arrest because his lawyer says they have a restraining order against the cops who are questioning him.
Not sure that tactic is possible.
It’s a really lazy issue of Night Force, both for Wolfman and Colan. Wolfman has a bunch of terrible dialogue exchanges from a demon and then his protagonist reporter guy. But the demon’s dialogue is almost all monologue, which takes up a lot of pages. And the demon is just a shadowy red figure in an otherwise yellow sky. So Colan didn’t have to do any work and the colorist did it all.
The issue’s action is often incomprehensible. Wolfman writes some more James Bond action scenes and Colan’s lost illustrating them.
It’s not just the action, however. The art is often poorly paced or confusing.
The series’s dearth of quality resumes.
Night Force quickly plummets from its high point last issue. Wolfman splits the story into two parts–one in Russia, which plays like Raiders of the Lost Ark again, and the other in Maryland, with Baron Winters playing hide and seek in his house.
Now, Wolfman clearly thinks he’s being subtle in his writing–though his bad English is sometimes hilarious, since he’s trying to be so writerly–but it’s pretty obvious Baron Winters can’t leave the house. Wolfman’s been hinting at it for maybe three issues (maybe six) and he’s never just explained it. It’s not an interesting detail. The idea Winters might strand all the cops in medieval France so they get the Plague? More interesting.
Colan puts some work into the art this issue. The first four pages have better art, technically, than the rest of the series so far in total.
At least it reads fast.
This issue of Night Force should be the pits. I mean, it opens with a Russian science fortress. Why Wolfman–who’d been working with Colan for almost ten years at that point–would give him a boring Russian fortress to draw is beyond understanding. Colan and Smith do a competent job, but it’s excruciatingly dull.
And then there’s more stuff with Baron Winters being scared of the cops and Wolfman relies heavily on evil Soviets so he doesn’t have to write actual characters….
And there’s a lengthy bromance sequence between the white guy and the Blade stand-in as they cross the Siberian wastes.
But it’s somehow the best issue of the series. Wolfman doesn’t try to hide anything. The bad Soviet scientist just explains it all and then action plays out. There’s no work for the reader, which is good, because Night Force isn’t worth it.
It’s nearly okay.
Between the evil German guy and the light show at the end of the issue, it’s like Wolfman doesn’t even care he’s being obvious in a Raiders of the Lost Ark rip-off. Maybe, at the time, being so obvious was meant as homage.
There’s actually one really cool idea, easily the best of the series so far. The good guys have this book to help them on their quest and it changes to fill in details. Or something. Whatever it does, it’s the best thing Wolfman’s come up with.
On the stupid side, Baron Winters is scared of cops. Wolfman really doesn’t think anything through.
At least he doesn’t bother with a bad hard cliffhanger this issue. It’s a soft, dumb one, which is a–in Night Force terms–far better.
Colan’s got some fabulous artwork though, as there’s a lot of supernatural nonsense. He excels at drawing it.
Well, Wolfman certainly didn’t try too hard with this issue’s cliffhanger. The good guys are about to be run over by a boat, or whatever that situation is called. For a comic book about the supernatural, most of Wolfman’s Night Force action is pedestrian. And when it is supernatural… the scenes never last very long.
This issue opens with Baron Winters talking to his pet tiger. The tiger (or leopard) doesn’t respond, which makes Winters sound like some kind of a lunatic. The comic would have been a lot better if the pet were just some doped up wild animal and Winters was a rich nutcase.
Sadly, that turn of events is unlikely.
The only amusing part of the comic is the black guy looking different than in the last couple issues.
Wolfman’s recycling the action set pieces (this issue ends with the first issue’s opening one). It’s a bore.