Detective Comics 520 (November 1982)

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You know what… I’m not sure I’ve seen a better inker on Newton than Alfredo Alcala. The art this issue is exceptional. It’s so wonderful, it makes up for Conway’s leap off the judgement bridge.

The story itself isn’t bad. Batman is putting together all the clues about Rupert Thorne, as Thorne hires Dr. Thirteen to ghost-bust Hugo Strange. Then Batman has to just Deadshot out of prison, which I guess provides the issue’s action sequence.

For whatever reason, Conway writes it in second person, the narration describing each character’s thoughts to him (Vicki Vale doesn’t get that treatment). It’s absolutely horrendous. I think Conway’s doing it to get the tension up, since his lengthy arc is about to end… but it utterly fails.

Thank goodness for the art.

The Catwoman backup is genial. It’s got nice Gil Kane art and Rozakis’s script is fine. While filler, it’s got potential.

CREDITS

The Haunting of “Boss” Thorne; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Don Newton; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. The Cat and the Conover Caper!; writer, Bob Rozakis; artist, Gil Kane; colorist, Tom Ziuko; letterer, Adam Kubert. Editors, Carl Gafford and Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

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Batman 353 (November 1982)

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With the amazing cover and the Garcia-Lopez art, it’d be impossible not to at least enjoy the issue. It’s just a Batman versus the Joker issue–this time the Joker’s making a monument to himself, angry Gotham was going to make one to Broadway musical stars instead. On some level, I agree… Broadway musical stars?

Conway’s Joker is both nuts and dangerous–he opens the issue killing one of his henchmen. It’s very iconic Joker stuff, actually. I remember the issue from when I was a kid.

There’s some development on the subplots–Batman’s finally on to Rupert Thorne, probably a year after he was released. Good thing Batman didn’t keep tabs on him, or else there wouldn’t be a long gestating storyline.

The backup is all right. Barr does a good job writing Robin as a somewhat naive kid and Newton’s art is fantastic. Again, “Matches” Malone is just a completely goof.

CREDITS

Last Laugh; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez; inker, Dan Adkins; letterer, Ben Oda. The Sting–Batman Style; writer, Mike W. Barr; penciller, Don Newton; inker, Dennis Jensen; letterer, Todd Klein. Colorist, Adrienne Roy; editors, Carl Gafford and Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Unknown Soldier 21 (August 2010)

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This issue, which Dysart tells from an omniscient first person point of view of an AK-47, might be the perfect example of the comic book medium’s narrative potential. I cannot think of any other medium where such a story could be told.

Without the visuals, it would not work, so prose is out. As a narrated film, it would not work because there’s the problem with the narrator. In writing, the reader can give the piece some leeway, but I cannot think of a single film narrated by an inanimate object.

What Dysart does is tell a focused history lesson. Where this particular weapon came from and where it goes. Dysart’s able to tell jokes, to show horrific events, to give a history lesson, all in twenty-two pages, all without leaving the context of a commercial comic book.

It’s not even anti-war really, just matter-of-fact.

CREDITS

A Gun In Africa; writer, Joshua Dysart; artist, Rick Veitch; colorist, Oscar Celestini; letterer, Clem Robins; editor, Pornsak Pichetshote; publisher, Vertigo.

Detective Comics 519 (October 1982)

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Kupperberg writes Batman and Robin like something out of the TV show. They’re celebrities, they go on very public adventures, Robin loiters awkwardly around the Batcave in his tights. The approach is just awkward–it’s like a fifties story stretched over a whole issue so there’s no way it isn’t going to overstay it’s welcome.

In this story, Batman has a Washington DC adventure and Robin goes to the arctic. It feels like a James Bond parody.

Having Calnan on the inks is also a problem, but it’s not like, even with the regular quality Newton art, the story wasn’t going to be weak. Kupperberg doesn’t even give the issue any subplots. It’s just Batman and Robin splitting up to fight the villains.

However, at least the Batgirl backup is worthwhile. Randall continues to overwrite, but what she’s overwriting is interesting. Here, Batgirl loses, feels bad, story ends. Plus, great art.

CREDITS

…Like a Dreadnought in the Sky!; writers, Gerry Conway and Paul Kupperberg; penciller, Don Newton; inker, John Calnan; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda; editor, Len Wein. …When Velvet Paws Caress the Ground!; writer, Barbara J. Randall; penciller, Trevor von Eeden; inker, Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Gene D’Angelo; letterer, Janice Chiang; editor, Dick Giordano. Publisher, DC Comics.

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