Detective Comics 499 (February 1981)

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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.

CREDITS

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.

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Detective Comics 498 (January 1981)

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It’s Batman versus the crooked coal miners and guess who wins?

Not Batman.

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.

CREDITS

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.

Dracula: The Company of Monsters 1 (August 2010)

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Dracula, as a vampire (at least, how he usually looks as a vampire), appears on the cover of this comic book.

He does not appear, as a vampire, in the interior.

Instead, we follow Evan. Evan is a naive blue blood whose evil multi-national corporation is going to resurrect Dracula. I didn’t learn the resurrection part from this comic book, however, I learned it from an interview about this comic book. Or maybe a press release. One of the two.

There are some neat ideas here. Well, one.

What if Dracula came back today–but without the Bram Stoker history under his belt. At least, that scenario is what I assume is going to happen because, you guessed it, the issue doesn’t make it clear.

Gregory is a novelist… but Dracula certainly doesn’t make me want to anything else he’s written. His characters are weak and the narration’s awful.

CREDITS

Writer, Daryl Gregory; artist, Scott Godlewski; colorist, Stephen Downer; letterer, Johnny Lowe; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Detective Comics 497 (December 1980)

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The main story is dedicated to Will Eisner, but besides some rather obvious Spirit references, I don’t get it. I mean, it’s not like Batman spends the issue getting beat up.

That one thing aside–it’s not even a problem, it’s just a strange dedication–the issue’s pretty good. It’s Batman the adventurer, with some nice moments between Bruce and Alfred and confusing ending. Conway forgets a bunch of stuff–Batman goes after the villain, the Squid, for some stolen documents… but we never find out what happens to them. And the upbeat finish is goofy.

The Newton artwork is just fantastic, with some really iconic panels. Conway might be forgetful, but his Batman’s fun to read.

The Batgirl backup, however, is a mess. The artwork is good, but the dialogue is way too expository and there are maybe eight principal characters, far too many for a feature story, much less a backup.

CREDITS

Bad Night in Baja; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Don Newton; inker, Dan Adkins; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. Barbara Gordon… Murderess!; writer, Cary Burkett; penciller, Jose Delbo; inker, Joe Giella; colorist, Gene D’Angelo; letterer, Milt Snapinn. Editor, Paul Levitz; publisher, DC Comics.

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