Klaus Janson

Detective Comics - Doug Moench

Detective Comics 554 (September 1985)

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Janson art again. It’s just phenomenal. He’s even figured out he doesn’t like doing splash panels with bland superhero poses so instead he’s doing complex panels indicating lots of movement. The way Janson draws Robin beats how he draws Batman; he’s very enthusiastic about all the movement.

The feature story is actually rather confusing. Not throughout, when Batman, Robin and Harvey Bullock are trying to get on an ocean liner to save hostages, but when Moench gets to revealing why the hostage takers are in town. I had to read like maybe three times and I’m still not sure I’ve got it right.

But with the art–and the banter between Robin and Bullock–who cares. It’s a fine outing.

And then, in Green Arrow, Black Canary gets a new eighties costume and the Canary Cry. It’s not a great story, but the artwork’s excellent and it amuses well enough.

B- 

CREDITS

Port Passed; writer, Doug Moench; artist, Klaus Janson; letterer, Todd Klein. Green Arrow, Crazy from the Heat II: The Past is Prologue; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Jerome Moore; inker, Bruce D. Patterson; colorist, Shelley Eiber; letterer, Bob Lappan. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

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Detective Comics - Doug Moench

Detective Comics 553 (August 1985)

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It’s an issue of amazing art. Klaus Janson isn’t doing a lot of detail on faces, which is not good, but his composition is breathtaking. The way he translates Moench’s script–sort of sapping out the sentimentality and enthusiasm–this issue is a mix between superhero idealism and melancholy cynicism. It’s beautiful. Janson’s also got the best Jason Todd Robin anyone’s drawn so far.

Moench’s script is fine. There’s too much with the Black Mask and the New Age mumbo jumbo Moench throws in, but the story moves great. It evens out. There’s an odd moment where Julia (Alfred’s daughter) apparently tells Lucius Fox a black joke.

Also, another plot detail to show up in Burton’s Batman–the corrosive acid on faces and subsequent masks.

The Green Arrow backup, with Black Canary losing her nerve, has some awesome mainstream art from Moore and Patterson. The script’s well meaning but slight.

B 

CREDITS

The False Face Society of Gotham; writer, Doug Moench; artist, Klaus Janson; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Workman. Green Arrow, Crazy from the Heat; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Jerome Moore; inker, Bruce D. Patterson; colorist, Jeanine Casey; letterer, Bob Lappan. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics - Doug Moench

Detective Comics 550 (May 1985)

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Moench goes a little too high concept for this one, especially since Broderick isn’t really the artist to do a protracted chase sequence.

A small-time thug runs across the rooftops, Batman in close pursuit, and Moench flashes back to all the things in his life to bring the thug to this point. It’s a little contrived, but it’s definitely ambitious. So when Moench actually brings damnation into the picture–the guy, it turns out, has robbed a church and attacked a nun–it’s just too much.

It doesn’t help Broderick eventually gives up and is practically drawing this story comical. There are a couple Batman cowl shots I was surprised Smith didn’t fix, but maybe he’d given up too.

Then the Green Arrow resolution is odd. Moore doesn’t write too much (or enough). It’s a decent enough action story, with lots of mood from Janson but not good detail.

D 

CREDITS

The Spider’s Ninth Leg!; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Workman. Green Arrow, Night Olympics, Part Two; writer, Alan Moore; artist, Klaus Janson; letterer, Todd Klein. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics - Doug Moench

Detective Comics 549 (April 1985)

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It’s a nice issue overall.

The feature has Moench, Broderick and Smith doing a Harvey Bullock issue. Moench plays it mostly for laughs, then goes deeper–showing the “real” Bullock–and then giving him a difficult conflict to resolve.

And manages to get in a big fight scene for him and Batman (teaming up against thugs, not against each other). Moench does well with the regular life stuff in Gotham City. It’s a relief not to have to get through his odd Bruce stuff.

But the real kicker is the Green Arrow backup from “guest” writer Alan Moore. I put “guest” in quotation marks because it doesn’t resemble the Cavalieri stories. Actually, the discussion of regular life calls back to the feature.

It’s just Ollie and Dinah out on patrol, with great art from Klaus Janson, and some setup of the story arc’s villain. Moore comes up with excellent stuff.

B+ 

CREDITS

Doctor Harvey and Mr. Bullock; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. Green Arrow, Night Olympics, Part One; writer, Alan Moore; artist, Klaus Janson; letterer, Todd Klein. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics - Doug Moench

Detective Comics 547 (February 1985)

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Moench partially redeems his amnesia storyline this issue with the suggestion it’s not going to go on for too long. He also does some decent work teaming up Robin and Nocturna, which he doesn’t play out as well as he could–is it really any odder to have a woman and her ward fighting crime than Batman and his ward?

Eventually it goes bad, with Moench falling back on Jason’s cruelty (the kid really hasn’t got any depth), but for a few pages it works out all right.

Plus, the art from Pat Broderick and Klaus Janson is good. They keep the story moving and put in a lot of mood. Moench has a lot of scenes; each supporting cast member gets some attention. He’s rushing but it’s fine.

Then the Green Arrow involves a Vietnam vet strong-arming Vietnamese businesses in the states. Goofy dialogue, but good mainstream art.

C+ 

CREDITS

Cast of Characters, Sequence of Events; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Klaus Janson; colorist, Adrienne Roy. Green Arrow, Clash Reunion II: Most Likely to Die!; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Jerome Moore; inker, Bruce D. Patterson; colorist, Jeanine Casey. Letterer, Ben Oda; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Marvel Super Special 18 (September 1981)

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Adapting Raiders of the Lost Ark into a comic book ought to be a no-brainer, especially with a strong creative team. And Walt Simonson’s script does have occasional highlights–he tries hard to make the stunts seem reasonable, using a lot of interior monologue for the cast–but not as many as it should. More than anything else, actually, the comic shows how movie and comic action differs and why adapting one to the other isn’t simple.

Simonson includes includes a lot of action bad for comics (car chases?) but he also ignores characterizations. Indy’s a vaguely generic lead, Marion gets the same treatment… no one else makes any impression. A comic adaptation is a piece of marketing, sure, but it doesn’t have to be a bad piece of marketing.

John Buscema and Klaus Janson do okay on the art. Nothing special.

It’s disposable and pointless, but not terrible.

CREDITS

Raiders of the Lost Ark; writer, Walt Simonson; penciller, John Buscema; inker, Klaus Janson; colorist, Michele Wolfman; letterer, Rick Parker; editor, Archie Goodwin; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Batman: The Dark Knight 4 (June 1986)

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Miller probably could have spread this issue out over two. There’s the follow-up to the Joker’s death, there’s a bit with Superman fighting the Russians, there’s Gotham as a disaster zone. Miller gets confused.

His comic’s working at cross purposes. Clark sees a connection with Bruce and Bruce doesn’t, so there’s the epic fight scene only Clark comes off more sympathetic. Bruce is working towards an end without any self-awareness. Clark has nothing but self-awareness.

There’s also the series’s first third person narration. Miller uses it for Alfred at the end; it’s a mistake. It treats Alfred as disposable, which is no good.

Gordon’s back for a bit too, with Miller using him to show the human side of a disaster contrasted with Batman’s perception of it.

The issue’s not ambitious enough for everything Miller wants to do. He never finds a rhythm, just forces a finish.

CREDITS

The Dark Knight Falls; writer and penciller, Frank Miller; inker, Klaus Janson; colorist, Lynn Varley; letterer, John Costanza; editors, Dick Giordano and Denny O’Neil; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman: The Dark Knight 3 (May 1986)

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I guess Miller liked having interior monologues so much, he gave them to everyone. Batman, Superman, Robin, the Joker, the new police commissioner. I don’t think anyone else. But there’s a lot of interior monologue. More than the media coverage.

Superman’s is actually the most revelatory. Miller writes him as scared, which is sort of funny considering he’s Superman. The best monologue, in terms of writing, is probably Robin’s. She only has it for a few pages, during an action scene, and Miller is terse. Terse works for it.

As for the Joker and Batman? Their monologues are about the other. Miller doesn’t actually have any great observations about the two of them. Their final battle isn’t even particularly iconic. Miller juxtaposes it against news commentators talking about Batman and killing. It works, but it’s obvious.

Miller opens with Superman; Bruce never really gets his comic back. Clark’s too big.

CREDITS

Hunt the Dark Knight; writer and penciller, Frank Miller; inkers, Klaus Janson and Miller; colorist, Lynn Varley; letterer, John Costanza; editors, Dick Giordano and Denny O’Neil; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman: The Dark Knight 2 (April 1986)

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This issue, Batman becomes less of a lead character in his own comic. Miller writes his some good interior monologues–occasionally really good. The standouts usually reveal something–like how Batman uses environment to beat the Mutant Leader or how, when delirious, he has one-sided conversations with the absent Dick Grayson.

But, for the most part, it’s not Batman’s comic. Some of it is the reaction to Batman returning; there’s a lot of media talking heads going on about him. To justify Batman’s vigilante behavior, Miller then shows a lot of innocent people in peril scenes and the public’s response. Their response being shallow, liberal affections, of course.

Miller introduces Robin this issue, which works well. He allows her to enjoy the derring do; Batman only gets to when it’s making him feel young.

Some great Jim Gordon stuff too.

It’s a busy, packed issue and almost entirely successful.

CREDITS

Dark Knight Triumphant; writer and penciller, Frank Miller; inker, Klaus Janson; colorist, Lynn Varley; letterer, John Costanza; editors, Dick Giordano and Denny O’Neil; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman: The Dark Knight 1 (March 1986)

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Miller establishes he’s telling The Dark Knight [Returns] in twelve panels a page, four columns, four rows. He quickly breaks this layout, but always for emphasis. I’d never realized how beautifully he designs the comic. It’s very cinematic, even if the actual content often isn’t visual.

He implies most of the action. Batman’s return is mostly implied, the issue’s fight scene finale is all implied. Miller even implies big plot developments instead of just showing them.

The result is being either inside Batman’s head–and Miller goes out of his way to show how psychologically disturbed he is from the first page–watching a newscast or, very briefly, being with the supporting cast. The supporting cast scenes Miller uses to setup a good Batman scene.

The issue’s about aging, forgetting, recovering and failing. It’s rather touching at times.

It’s fairly impressive, but Miller’s too dependent on his “future story” gimmick.

CREDITS

The Dark Knight Returns; writer and penciller, Frank Miller; inker, Klaus Janson; colorist, Lynn Varley; letterer, John Costanza; editors, Dick Giordano and Denny O’Neil; publisher, DC Comics.

Daredevil 170 (May 1981)

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Miller brings back the Kingpin and, wow, is it bad.

The Kingpin stuff isn’t terrible–Wilson’s off in Japan, “reformed” thanks to his wife–but the Daredevil stuff is the worst Miller’s written so far.

Whether it’s Matt’s lame thought balloon explanations of how his powers work, which Miller doesn’t stick with when he should, or just the goofy dialogue, this issue has terrible writing.

Even worse, the art’s weak.

It looks like Miller really just sketched it out and let Janson fill in the blanks. Except Janson didn’t work really hard on the inks either. The result is an ugly, blocky issue with a shockingly lack of simple detail.

The “best” part in the story might be when Matt tries to reason with Bullseye. It’s an unfathomable scene.

Miller even tries a sitcom-style joke involving Matt’s blindness. Either Miller lacked confidence or his editor approved the script unread.

CREDITS

The Kingpin Must Die; writer and penciller, Frank Miller; inker, Klaus Janson; colorist, Glynis Wein; letterer, Joe Rosen; editor, Denny O’Neil; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Daredevil 169 (March 1981)

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Frank Miller sure does write a great Batman comic. Oh, wait, this is Daredevil?

Regardless of Matt acting rather batty, it’s an excellent comic. Bullseye has escaped Arkham, where they discovered he’s actually got a tumor and he’s causing him to misbehave more than usual. He’s on the streets, assaulting people he mistakes for Daredevil–once again, Miller’s got a nice, unexplored inference. Bullseye can’t tell the hallucinated Daredevils from the real one.

There’s a bunch of good action scenes, including a great fight in a movie theater with some nicely layered supporting dialogue and fine use of film stills. Miller and Janson create a style for the urban superhero with Daredevil.

The finish has Batman explaining why he doesn’t kill the Joker… wait, wrong characters. You know who I mean.

There’s also an awesome visualization of how Matt uses his powers to track down Bullseye.

The issue’s quite exceptional.

CREDITS

Devils; writer and penciller, Frank Miller; inker, Klaus Janson; colorist, Glynis Wein; letterer, Joe Rosen; editor, Denny O’Neil; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Daredevil 168 (January 1981)

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Miller’s first issue as a writer, not to mention the first appearance of Elektra, is nearly an abject misfire. Miller’s handle on Matt Murdock’s history is shaky. He’s retroactively introducing this all important new character, but his backstory for Matt’s awful.

Matt and Foggy are in college. Matt’s never used his powers, except to help the clumsy Foggy, but he’s had them for four years. He’s also a nitwit. When college Matt meets college Elektra, he thinks she rejects him because he’s blind… not because she’s got a bodyguard who makes it impossible for her to have a social life (something Miller never resolves). It’s bad writing.

Matt spends the issue reminiscing, then there’s a big fight scene at the end (against some exceptionally lame villains) and Miller redeems himself. Maybe unintentionally.

Elektra’s bewildered to discover Matt’s new identity. The moment’s devastating; it makes up for all the previous nonsense.

CREDITS

Elektra; writer, Frank Miller; pencillers, Miller and Klaus Janson; inker, Janson; colorist, Dr. Martin; letterer, Joe Rosen; editor, Denny O’Neil; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Daredevil 167 (November 1980)

This issue opens at a Long Island estate, but there’s no geographic reference so for a minute or two I thought it’d be Daredevil in Beverly Hills. It could be quite easily, since the estate is the center of the issue. When David Michelinie does take the action back to Manhattan, it’s just for a panel or two of a determined Matt Murdock.

Michelinie’s script, and his focus on keeping the action in one general setting, feels “low budget” but it works. He has a compelling enough mystery, a lot of good action opportunities for Frank Miller and Klaus Janson and a creative twist at the end.

The third person narration occasionally goes overboard, but the art–never spectacular, always solid–grounds the issue.

There’s a filler backup showcases Daredevil’s extremely expensive pad and his gizmos. If Matt and Foggy are always broke, how’d he afford the pad? Robbing banks?

CREDITS

…The Mauler!; writer, David Michelinie; penciller, Frank Miller; inker, Klaus Janson; colorist, Glynis Wein; letterer, Joe Rosen. Dark Secrets; writer, Michelinie; penciller, Miller; inker, Janson; colorist, Wein; letterer, Michael Higgins. Editor, Denny O’Neil; publisher, Marvel Comics.