Detective Comics 552 (July 1985)

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It’s an odd done-in-one, with Moench structuring the issue around an article from Julia (Alfred’s daughter). Poor Julia has never been much of a character, just a third vertex in Moench’s Bruce Wayne love triangle. Except when Alfred sort of pimps her out. Those moments are awkward, terrible and amusing.

But she writes an article about a tree getting cut down and Alfred cries when he reads it. Then Batman sets a trap for some out of town assassin and everything ties together in the end–Moench really stretches it.

Broderick tries hard for interesting composition but there’s some bad art. The figure drawing is weak; on the first long shot of Julia walking, it looks like her ankles are hobbled. And Moench’s way too writerly, way too purple. They try and fail.

The Green Arrow backup’s decent. Though Cavalieri doesn’t know what to do with Black Canary.

C- 

CREDITS

A Stump Grows in Gotham; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Workman. Green Arrow, Sanctuary II: Poor Huddled, Masses; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Jerome Moore; inker, Bruce D. Patterson; colorist, Jeanine Casey; letterer, John Costanza. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

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Batman 385 (July 1985)

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With Chuck Patton helping, the pencils are occasionally tolerable. Even Alcala inking can’t fix whatever Hoberg does wrong with Batman’s cowl, unfortunately.

There are a couple big scenes this issue–besides the resolution of the Calendar Man arc, which features Moench’s least annoying characterization of him. He’s not blathering to himself throughout. It’s nice.

There’s a big scene for Vicki Vale. She’s telling off her suitor. It’s not bad, though Moench’s either got her babbling about eighties diet fads or she’s joined a cult. She’s been a pointless character for dozens of issues now… maybe he’ll turn her around.

The other big scene is Bruce and Jason. Jason is arguing for his job as Robin; Moench is clearly trying to rationalize the character. It doesn’t work–the argument, which Jason wins, is ludicrous stuff.

Hopefully Moench has all this foster parenting, adoption, job dynamics nonsense out of his system now.

C- 

CREDITS

Day of Doom; writer, Doug Moench; pencillers, Rick Hoberg and Chuck Patton; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics 551 (June 1985)

5656

There’s something distressing about the art on the feature. It barely looks like the previous Broderick and Smith issues; maybe Broderick didn’t give Smith much to work with. There’s certainly not a lot in the way of inventive composition (something Moore excels with on the backup).

Moench’s feature story gets better as it goes along. The Calendar Man is a lame enough villain, but Moench makes it worse with the guy talking to himself all the time. Especially at the open, when he’s explaining the previous issue to the reader.

Eventually the story shakes out to Jason and Bruce having a big fight about Jason being a dimwit and Bruce calling him on it. Probably shouldn’t have made him Robin if he was dumb. But whatever.

The Green Arrow backup, with Cavalieri very seriously doing a story about illegal immigrants, is good. With Moore and Patterson’s art, it’s real good.

C 

CREDITS

The First Day of Spring; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Workman. Green Arrow, Sanctuary; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Jerome Moore; inker, Bruce D. Patterson; colorist, Jeanine Casey; letterer, Bob Lappan. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman 384 (June 1985)

2846

Hoberg and Nebres’s art is a little perplexing. The medium shots, pretty much anything with Batman, the action sequences, none of these work out. No one’s really putting in any effort. The Batman cowl, for instance, is just awful. But in the pensive close-ups of characters? All of a sudden Hoberg and Nebres are trying.

While that emphasis makes some sense–the emotional resonance of the story–it’s also a superhero comic. Dynamic action, especially with a lame villain like Calendar Man, might make all the difference.

Sadly, Hoberg’s composition–even for the panels he does try on–isn’t any good. So they’re stilted, if detailed, close-ups.

Moench awkwardly resolves a big thread (rushing to a resolution, actually), then has Alfred again pimping out his daughter to Bruce.

Another goofy part is Jason suiting up as Robin to do some computer work in the Batcave. It’s just odd.

C- 

CREDITS

Broken Dates; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Rick Hoberg; inker, Rudy Nebres; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Workman; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics 550 (May 1985)

5655

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.

Batman 383 (May 1985)

2845

After my many complaints Moench never writes Bruce Wayne at length (and sensible, as he did write him at length and ludicrous during the Jason Todd adoption thing), he dedicates an entire issue to Bruce.

It’s a day in the life and it’s a comedy. There are angry women, parent-teacher conferences, buffoonish builders, not to mention the eventual street thugs. All the while, Bruce just wants to get some sleep.

It’s not rocket science and it’s often contrived, but contrived is kind of the point. It’s a funny enough concept and Moench executes it quite well. I’m just shocked how much fun he makes of Batman and Bruce Wayne. It’s humorous, yes, but it also suggests the character is often acting out of sleep deprivation rather than intelligent thought.

Gene Colan is an odd penciller to do light comedy but it works out.

Batman as sitcom… Thankfully sans camp.

B 

CREDITS

Just As Night Follows Day…; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterers, Ben Oda and Albert De Guzman; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics 549 (April 1985)

777250

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.

Batman 382 (April 1985)

2844

Editor Len Wein really should have sent this one back to the oven. First off, there’s the art from Rick Hoberg and Rudy Nebres. It’s awful. The figures are too static, the settings are too slight. Especially given Moench does a whole hostage airplane storyline–the art fails it every step of the way.

Except when Julia and Vicki stand around looking dumbfounded. Those panels are kind of funny.

Then there’s Moench. Moench tries to do a Batman and Catwoman star-crossed lovers story and he fails miserably. The dialogue’s stilted and rushed, the characters don’t act with any decent motivation. When he gets to the ending, which the artists screw up too, it’s hard not to roll one’s eyes. He goes for a big revelation about the relationship but he had a more honest moment in a brief comment from Gordon.

Not a good comic book, not at all.

D- 

CREDITS

The Vengeance Spiral; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Rick Hoberg; inker, Rudy Nebres; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics 548 (March 1985)

5653

So Moench finds an interesting way to move past all the Jason Todd adoption stuff. He forgets about it. Oh, he mentions it a bunch, especially in the opening scene with Jason eating a snack in the kitchen with Bruce and Alfred. But the character relationships are all different now. There’s banter, there’s teasing Batman about his love life. Maybe Moench decided things had to change with Pat Broderick coming on as the penciller.

And Broderick does a fun job. His figures are sometimes off, but he’s got lots of enthusiasm, lots of energy. His expressions are fantastic too. He and Moench are playing it all a little tongue in cheek, which doesn’t work for Vicki and Julia (or Alfred talking about his daughter as an easy catch for Bruce), but it’s definitely amusing.

As for the Green Arrow backup… Cavalieri gets in a couple good twists. Nice art too.

B 

CREDITS

Beasts A-Prowl; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. Green Arrow, Clash Reunion III: Vengeance is Mine!; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Jerome Moore; inker, Bruce D. Patterson; colorist, Jeanine Casey; letterer, Ben Lappan. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman 381 (March 1985)

2843

Moench neatly ties everything together–including Bruce setting up Nocturna for an unnecessary fall–and it’s hard to remember why any of the threads are important at all. They weren’t important to the characters, except Nocturna (and maybe Alfred); Moench’s frantic pace keeps the issue engaging but it’s not fulfilling in any way.

Then there’s the matter of the art. Hoberg’s back and he’s better than the previous issue but he’s far from good. It’s a strange situation–does the story deserve better art… would it read better with better art or has Moench exhausted the comic too much.

It’s hard to say for sure at this point–Hoberg’s only done two issues and Moench is finishing up a somewhat lengthy arc–but all hints are to the latter. Moench’s melodramatic antics just obscure his lack of ideas for the characters to develop.

Batman’s getting to be a tedious bore.

C- 

CREDITS

Darkly Moved the Pawns; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Rick Hoberg; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics 547 (February 1985)

5652

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.

Batman 380 (February 1985)

2842

What an odd turn of events. One can’t help but note Moench is following a number of story beats–corrupt politician, villain masquerading as Batman–Gerry Conway did immediately prior in his lengthy run, not to mention other writers before them.

Rick Hoberg takes over the pencils for the issue (just this one, I hope) and he makes things feel very generic, very superhero. Moench tries character scenes for Jason and Nocturna, which doesn’t work out too well with the pencils, and the mind-bending scenes are just silly.

Moench also has a real problem with the villain, the Night-slayer–he’s a lousy villain. Facing off against Dr. Fang, Moench’s problems with lame villains is just too obvious. Plus, all the events hinge on not just Nocturna being incapable, but Jason and Batman too.

Without a good penciller, Moench’s weaknesses are just too much. The issue can’t overcome them.

CREDITS

End of the Bat; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Rick Hoberg; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics 546 (January 1985)

5651

From the start, it’s kind of clear Colan’s rushing on the art. Pretty much everyone looks like Dracula, from villainous Mayor Hill to angry little Jason Todd. Hill’s plotting, Jason’s being mean to adoptive mom, Nocturna, as they’re out for an evening walk.

In the meantime, Batman’s on the run from the cops, who don’t look like Dracula just because Colan and inker Smith draw them all really fat.

Moench writes a hurried story, really pulling on the heartstrings for the Nocturna subplot. He’s got a lot of balls in the air–her, the corrupt mayor, Bruce’s love life–and none of the threads are particularly interesting. Doesn’t help Bruce and Jason get the lightest characterization.

Then in the Green Arrow backup, Ollie goes to his high school reunion and fights a guy in what apparently becomes the Vigilante costume. The art, from Jerome Moore and Bruce Patterson, is good.

CREDITS

Hill’s Descent; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy. Green Arrow, Clash Reunion; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Jerome Moore; inker, Bruce Patterson; colorist, Jeanine Casey. Letterer, Ben Oda; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

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.

Detective Comics 545 (December 1984)

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This issue has some beautiful art from Gene Colan and Bob Smith in the feature and then Shawn McManus in the backup, but it’s a disaster otherwise.

Moench spends most of the feature with his really lame character, the Night-slayer. Basically the guy’s just a standard acrobatic, costumed villain who carried on with Nocturna (his step-sister) and he’s injured and a blind girl takes care of him.

Does it seem like Bride of Frankenstein a little? Yes, it really does. See, better, the blind girl thinks he’s Batman.

As for Batman, he doesn’t get much of a story. Moench wastes over half the issue on Night-slayer and then ends it abruptly.

Just as abruptly as Cavalieri ends the Green Arrow backup, with someone finding out Ollie’s secret identity.

There’s not enough pages in either story for a satisfactory narrative; the wonderful art makes up for it… somewhat.

CREDITS

By Darkness Masked; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. Green Arrow, It’s No Fair II: Fair Raid; writer, Joey Cavalieri; artist, Shawn McManus; colorist, Jeanine Casey; letterer, Adam Kubert. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman 378 (December 1984)

776760

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.

Detective Comics 544 (November 1984)

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What an issue. How to even start. Okay, so Moench is having so much trouble figuring out why Bruce Wayne wants to adopt Jason Todd, he actually has a scene where Nocturna “tempts” him with the promise of a ready-made family.

They’ll get married, adopt Jason, be Batman and family. It’s inexplicable stuff, with Moench going full steam trying to make the characters act sensibly… only there’s no sense to it.

The Nocturna art–Alcala inking Colan–is wondrous. The rest of the issue, mostly Batman trailing a thug, is nowhere near as impressive.

There’s also some stuff with Jason himself, but it’s not memorable. This adoption plot line is a complete misfire. Moench can’t even give Batman and Nocturna chemistry, mostly because she talks like such an insane flake.

As for Green Arrow? McManus’s art is still fantastic. It’s actually not particularly intelligible, but it’s definitely great looking.

CREDITS

Deceit in Dark Secrets; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Adrienne Roy. Green Arrow, It’s No Fair II: Fair from the Madding Crowd; writer, Joey Cavalieri; artist, Shawn McManus; colorist, Jeanine Casey. Letterer, Todd Klein; 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.

Detective Comics 543 (October 1984)

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Wow, what’s Moench thinking? He’s done some great, ambitious stories since he started writing the Batman comics but… a supervillain adopting Jason Todd? Noctura is back–she looks like a vampire, something I assume they came up with for Gene Colan–and she wants to adopt Jason.

It’s actually no less absurd than Bruce Wayne wanting to adopt him. Moench writes some odd scene with Bruce and Julia (Alfred’s daughter) too. Strange stuff. Lovely art, but strange stuff this issue.

There are a lot of Dracula references, from character names to how Noctura approaches Jason. So clearly Moench is thinking. He just can’t make that Bruce Wayne character work. It’s too bad. Great art though, like I said before.

Speaking of great art, McManus inks himself on Green Arrow this issue. While Cavalieri’s story annoys as usual, it’s packed with awesome, Eisner-inspired panels. McManus delivers something outrageous and great.

CREDITS

Shadows of Vengeance; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. Green Arrow, It’s No Fair!; writer, Joey Cavalieri; artist, Shawn McManus; colorist, Jeanine Casey; letterer, Bob Lappan. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

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.

Detective Comics 542 (September 1984)

Detective 542

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.

CREDITS

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.

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.

Detective Comics 541 (August 1984)

Detective 541

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.

CREDITS

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.

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 540 (July 1984)

Detective 540

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.

CREDITS

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.

Batman 373 (July 1984)

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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.

CREDITS

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.

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 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.

Detective Comics 538 (May 1984)

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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.

CREDITS

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.

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.

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