Nathaniel Dusk II 3 (November 1985)

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McGregor gets to a lot of revelations this issue. Well, more like two. But they’re big ones. One involves the case, one involves Dusk’s involvement with his dead girlfriend’s kids. The case one is particularly interesting because McGregor does it without much emotion. McGregor isn’t unenthusiastic, he’s just measured–both for the comic (it’s not the big reveal) and for the character. This type of thing isn’t something to get Dusk emotional. He’s disconnected from it.

However, there’s one plot point full of emotion for Dusk and McGregor does explore that point much more thoroughly. McGregor gets a lot of mileage out of the hard boiled private investigator thing. He never throws too many contrary details in, just enough to make the character compelling.

This issue, very gently, even brings attention to New York density versus something like L.A. openness.

It’s a fantastic issue. McGregor and Colan do great work.

A

CREDITS

Apple Peddlers Die at Noon, Part Three; writer and editor, Don McGregor; artist, Gene Colan; colorist, Tom Zuiko; letterer, John Costanza; publisher, DC Comics.

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Nathaniel Dusk II 2 (November 1985)

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The second issue has a lot of action. The issues are double-sized and McGregor plots them quite well. There are three, maybe four, big action sequences in this one, along with a bunch of scenes involving the case itself, but there’s still time for the character work. McGregor always makes sure to work some of it into the investigation-related scenes too.

Even with all the character work, McGregor hasn’t hinted how the Dusk character is going to progress during this story. It’s set in the same year as the previous series, something I hadn’t realized until it came up in dialogue, so measured changes are fine. But there ought to be some change… and the only place I can guess is the easiest place.

I’ll have to wait and see.

The art’s stunning once again, those Zuiko skies are gorgeous.

McGregor and Colan are making good comics here.

B+ 

CREDITS

Apple Peddlers Die at Noon, Part Two; writer and editor, Don McGregor; artist, Gene Colan; colorist, Tom Zuiko; letterer, John Costanza; publisher, DC Comics.

Nathaniel Dusk II 1 (October 1985)

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For Nathaniel Dusk II, Gene Colan’s pencils go without inks. However, they go with Tom Ziuko’s colors. Ziuko’s a familiar name as a colorist but I was still a little surprised with his work here. He takes Colan’s pencils and turns them into a painted comic. The colors are muted, but still lush. There are some fabulous skies in this one and Colan probably only contributed the cloud outlines.

Don McGregor’s script is excellent. He starts out with the finish of one of titular private investigator Dusk’s cases, then gradually introduces not just the series’s case, but also plays catchup. Not so much has happened since the last series, just enough. McGregor carefully makes the issue accessible for new readers while still rewarding returning ones.

The attention to detail–1934 Manhattan–is fabulous.

McGregor occasionally gets a little too enthusiastic with that detail, but the art picks up any slack.

A- 

CREDITS

Apple Peddlers Die at Noon, Part One; writer and editor, Don McGregor; artist, Gene Colan; colorist, Tom Zuiko; letterer, John Costanza; publisher, DC Comics.

Detectives Inc.: A Terror of Dying Dreams 3 (December 1987)

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The ending is worse than I expected and I wasn’t expecting much. McGregor plotted these issues awkwardly, with way too much material before the actual investigation. The stuff with following the wife beating husband around in the last issue was pretty much pointless. McGregor didn’t need it to make the mystery work. In fact, he might have done it all backwards.

There are some okay moments here. There’s good banter between the leads, though McGregor doesn’t give them enough time together. They seem familiar, sure, but McGrefor never just lets them relax together. He’s always working in exposition or some plot point.

There’s some action, some unlikely surprises and a truly terrible villain. The postscript is ludicrous too, but McGregor does get some sympathy for his characters so he can sell it. The nonsense before? He can’t sell that nonsense.

Okay Colan art. Some nice angles, but too static overall.

C 

CREDITS

The Corpse In the Bloodstained Body Bag; writer, Don McGregor; artist, Gene Colan; letterer, Mindy Eisman; editor, Catherine Yronwode; publisher, Eclipse Comics.

Detectives Inc.: A Terror of Dying Dreams 2 (September 1987)

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The fight scene is painful. It goes on for three or four pages–at least, two, anyway–and is impossible to comprehend thanks to Colan only doing pencils. It’s like a sketch of a fight scene, not an actual realized sequence.

There’s some good art, of course. Colan isn’t going to do a comic without some good art in it. Most of the good art is for the establishing pages at the beginning of each chapter–there are three or four this issue. More than two. Colan takes his time with the scenery. His pencils are less rough too. There are definite lines.

As for the story, again the best part is when Denning is off on his date. It’s a very awkward romantic sequence, not too graphic, but trying very hard to be suggestive. McGregor’s writing an honest scene though. The rest of the issue feels perfunctory in comparison.

C 

CREDITS

Knishes and Boardwalk Surveillance; writer, Don McGregor; artist, Gene Colan; letterer, Mindy Eisman; editor, Catherine Yronwode; publisher, Eclipse Comics.

Detectives Inc.: A Terror of Dying Dreams 1 (June 1987)

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I feel like A Terror of Dying Dreams should be a little better. Gene Colan does the art–just pencils, no inks; it’s good art but Don McGregor’s script doesn’t just play to Colan’s strengths, it plays to his standards. Inexplicably enormous scary mansion in the New York area? Check. Urban blight? Check. Even the one fight scene looks like every Colan fight scene.

There’s some reality to those sequences usually absent from Colan’s mainstream work. The fight scene is a social worker fighting back against an abusive husband who’s targeting her. The urban blight is one of the leads, Rainier, hanging around at nudie bars on Broadway. McGregor’s trying hard to update the miserable detective but doesn’t have much for him to do.

The other lead, Denning, is dealing with his mother’s illness. Those scenes are beautifully written, but Colan’s out of his element on them.

Still, ambitious stuff.

B 

CREDITS

Cheerful Lies and Desperate Truths; writer, Don McGregor; artist, Gene Colan; letterer, Mindy Eisman; editor, Catherine Yronwode; publisher, Eclipse Comics.

Nathaniel Dusk 4 (May 1984)

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Dusk is a good comic and all and McGregor does good with it and all but I’m shocked he could pull this issue off.

He resolves a drowning cliffhanger, he corrects his plotting problem from last issue very obviously (Dusk actually investigating), he has two or three major action sequences, he has a hallucination and he has an epilogue.

And it’s all fantastic. Even that leftover scene with Dusk’s interview for his investigation, even it works.

McGregor changes up the emphasis a little the issue. These scenes work because of the characters. McGregor has been gently establishing them, both in scene and in Dusk’s narration, and he uses that familiarity to make his scenes work here.

Colan’s art is fantastic. The way he can do a big scene in two pages, but then slow down for an action layout where only a few seconds pass on the page.

Outstanding work.

A 

CREDITS

Lovers Die at Dusk, Part Four; writer, Don McGregor; artist, Gene Colan; colorist, Tom Zuiko; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Alan Gold; publisher, DC Comics.

Nathaniel Dusk 3 (April 1984)

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How do you have a private eye comic without a mystery? This issue of Dusk is the perfect example of such a thing. Now, Chandler didn’t always have the most intricately laid mysteries–the investigation mattered. And McGregor has gotten to that point in this mystery. The investigation is the thing. Only, it’s not particularly compelling.

McGregor is very serious about the setting and he’s got some great details for thirties New York. He even sets the series during a cab strike, which figures into an action sequence. Hopefully it’ll figure into the story at some point and not just a set piece. All the pieces are here, all are beautifully constructed, they just aren’t doing much special.

It might just be the medium. Comics lend towards action or dialogue. A detective story needs moments of quiet introspection, it needs thinking.

Still, it’s a good comic with some great art.

B 

CREDITS

Lovers Die at Dusk, Part Three; writer, Don McGregor; artist, Gene Colan; colorist, Tom Zuiko; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Alan Gold; publisher, DC Comics.

Nathaniel Dusk 2 (March 1984)

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It’s a fast issue, which is strange given there’s so much exposition. McGregor really gets into the private eye running monologue thing. It could go either way–and he does get long-winded during the action sequences (Colan’s pencils can handle them on their own)–but it works out by the end. McGregor writes Dusk really, really well and gives him a number of things to deal with.

There’s the big thing–the inciting tragedy to motivate Dusk for the rest of the issue (and presumably series)–but the little details are far more interesting. Dusk trying to relate to his girlfriend’s kid, Dusk realizing it’s the girlfriend who taught him a thing or two in the sack–those two are the most salient because they haunt the character throughout the issue, even in the big action scenes.

It’s an excellent, if wordy, comic.

The beautiful artwork from Colan continues.

B+ 

CREDITS

Lovers Die at Dusk, Part Two; writer, Don McGregor; artist, Gene Colan; colorist, Tom Ziuko; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Alan Gold; publisher, DC Comics.

Nathaniel Dusk 1 (February 1984)

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There are no inks on Gene Colan’s pencils in Nathaniel Dusk. It’s pencils and color. To. Ziuko uses really bright colors too, often it’ll just be a single color across objects. Colan’s not too concerned about universal detail.

Don McGregor is clearly a fan of detective novels. He puts a lot of time into the lead’s first person narrative. Probably too much work, since some conversations get cramped, but McGregor is definitely committed. He’s doing a grownup comic for a mainstream publisher in the eighties. It’s a crazy thing.

But it’s also a totally mediocre thing. Besides Dusk’s girlfriend having a couple kids while still being a femme fatale, there’s nothing to the story. There’s great mood and a lot of nice details, but the story just drags.

There are some great period set pieces and McGregor and Colan certainly get a bunch of credit, but who knows what’s next.

B 

CREDITS

Lovers Die at Dusk, Part One; writer, Don McGregor; artist, Gene Colan; colorist, Tom Ziuko; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Alan Gold; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics 566 (September 1986)

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I wish they had done a recap issue back when Colan was at the top of his game. This issue sets up the big anniversary special over in Batman, with he and Robin going over the villain files in the Batcave. Gordon got an ominous note.

One might think Batman should do that work during the day instead of when he should be fighting crime, but whatever. Moench uses the issue not to just give a recap of the villains in general, but how he’s used them in his run. Jason’s got a lot to say, but it seems like a major cop out Moench downgraded the character for months only to bring him back to spout exposition.

Still, it’s fine for what Moench’s doing, it just isn’t clear why he had to do it.

Cavalieri hits new silliness in Green Arrow but the art’s great. Except the goofy villain.

C 

CREDITS

Know Your Foes; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Todd Klein. Green Arrow, Old Enemies Die Hard; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Jerome Moore; inker, Dell Barras; colorist, Shelley Eiber; letterer, Bob Lappan. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics 565 (August 1986)

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Colan’s really slipping. His faces are getting lifeless and awkward. The scene where Jason is making out with his girlfriend, the girl looks like a mannequin.

Moench goes on and on about love this issue in the very close to Batman third person narration. He’s got a serial killer shrinking ex-girlfriends heads, all sorts of romance. Batman and Catwoman are fighting, she’s had enough of his lack of trust. On and on. But Moench hasn’t set up the series for this arc to have much impact. It definitely should, but it doesn’t. Maybe because the relationships–except Jason, who’s got game, apparently–are so chaste. I think Jane Austen would’ve gotten more indiscreet than Moench.

The story’s fine, it’s just meandering.

The Green Arrow backup has some nice Stan Woch art and a really dumb story from Cavalieri. It ends with some guy benevolently holding a woman hostage. Seriously.

C+ 

CREDITS

The Love Killing; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Costanza. Green Arrow, Death by Misadventure; writer, Joey Cavalieri; artist, Stan Woch; colorist, Shelley Eiber; letterer, Bob Lappan. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics 564 (July 1986)

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Colan’s art seems to have stabilized quite a bit. In a lot of ways, it’s less ambitious and a waste of his talent, but at least there aren’t any awful Jason panels. Instead, Jason’s barely in the comic. Moench sends him out on a date because he’s so perturbed at Batman hanging out with Catwoman all the time.

Catwoman, in the meantime, is perturbed Batman doesn’t treat her as a full partner. Batman’s oblivious to all these things, of course. He’s too busy trying to work up a plan against Two-Face, which Moench hides from the reader to get a surprise (or two).

It’s an okay enough feature, but it feels padded. Moench’s either avoiding a lot–like Bruce Wayne–or he’s just bored.

The Green Arrow backup has a terrible story. Inker Steve Montano and Rodin Rodriguez give Moore’s a more static quality; it’s still good, but different.

C+ 

CREDITS

Double Crosses; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Costanza. Green Arrow, This Masquerade; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Jerome Moore; inkers, Steve Montano and Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Shelley Eiber; letterer, Todd Klein. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics 563 (June 1986)

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Finally, a villain Moench can write–he does a great job with Two-Face this issue, just great. It makes up for Batman not really having a story. He and Catwoman are out on case, there’s something mysterious going on with Jerry Hall. Sorry, Circe.

Meanwhile, Jason is ready to tell some girl he goes to school with all about Robin. As disastrously bad as Moench writes this particular character arc–all the anti-drug messages really make me miss Jason and Nocturna’s awkward, but at least ambitious, doomed relationship. Anyway, as bad as Moench writes Jason in high school… it’s nothing compared to how Colan pencils him. Jason’s this fat little cherub. Maybe Smith was overextended and couldn’t ink properly.

Generally okay art otherwise. Not great Colan, but decent.

Cavalieri tells the Green Arrow backup through flashbacks to cut down on action. It’s lame but Moore’s pencils are breathtaking.

B 

CREDITS

Free Faces; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Costanza. Green Arrow, Winner and Still Champion; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Jerome Moore; inker, Dell Barras; colorist, Jeanine Casey; letterer, Bob Lappan. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics 562 (May 1986)

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It’s hard to recall the feature story after the fantastic art on the Green Arrow backup. Moore does an amazing job. It’s packed with content too, so there’s a lot of variety. It’s not good content; since adding Black Canary, Cavalieri is struggling with a storyline and the basic characterizations. But great art. Just great.

On the feature, Colan continues his downward slide. There are occasionally good panels and often great composition in long shots and medium shots, but Colan and Smith aren’t bringing the detail anymore.

It’s a tense issue. Moench writes his villain to be more of a spree killer than a supervillain, which is a nice change. There’s a lot more talk about Robin’s jealousy over Catwoman, but no sign Moench knows where to take it. Not even Robin and Bullock are amusing together.

The feature has some moments; Batman and Catwoman do make a good team.

B- 

CREDITS

Reeling; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Workman. Green Arrow, The Criminal Element; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Jerome Moore; inker, Dell Barras; colorist, Jeanine Casey; letterer, Agustin Mas. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics 561 (April 1986)

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Because the world needs more anti-drug messages. Jason really likes the new girl at school, but she wants to do drugs. Can Jason–and Robin–convince her to stay square?

It’s hard to say whether Moench wanted to tell a Jason story or wanted to do a drug prevention story. He hasn’t shown Jason at school before, so he has to introduce the bully as well as the girl. Jason’s such a poorly realized character, why would his school be any different. And why would he be in public school? And if he’s not in public school, why couldn’t the bully just steal his mom’s prescription drugs instead of robbing a pharmacy?

Worse, Colan is real lazy. Inkers Smith and Ricardo Villagran don’t do much to fix the problems either. The super-balding Bruce is a particular eyesore.

Beautiful pencils from Moore on Green Arrow. Shame about the story.

D 

CREDITS

Flying Hi; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inkers, Bob Smith and Ricardo Villagran; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Workman. Green Arrow, In the Grip of Steelclaw!; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Jerome Moore; inker, Dell Barras; colorist, Jeanine Casey; letterer, Agustin Mas. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics 560 (March 1986)

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This issue has Batman tricking Robin and Catwoman into teaming up. They aren’t getting along–all because of Jason–so Batman has to set a trap for them. Moench tells the story from the perspective of a spider in the Batcave.

It’s sort of nutty. But it’s also kind of great. Robin refers to Nocturna as “his mother of the night” or something silly–like he’s a goth or something. Robin as a goth. It’d be awesome. No, Moench doesn’t go there but he does try to do something really difficult. He tries to look at Jason’s grief. That alone gets the issue respect.

The art is good. Colan and Smith have a great time with Selina and Bullock as far as detail. And there’s a quick Batman origin recap. It’s nice looking.

The Green Arrow backup has great art, strange story. Not bad (yet) but very gimmicky and strange.

B+ 

CREDITS

The Batman Nobody Knows; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Workman. Green Arrow, …Me a Bad Guy…?; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Jerome Moore; inker, Dell Barras; colorist, Jeanine Casey; letterer, Bob Lappan. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics 559 (February 1986)

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The art continues to slide. Someone took the time to give Green Arrow detailed eyeballs, but the composition is weak. It doesn’t even look like Colan.

The writing isn’t much better. Moench’s got Green Arrow and Black Canary guest-starring (instead of appearing in a backup) and he writes them something awful. I wonder how much time he spent thinking of the Bat-Fascist combinations for Green Arrow to hurl at Batman. Bat-Ronnie has to be my favorite.

Black Canary acts as mediator, then Catwoman shows up and she and Dinah hit it off. Why? Because they’re women and they like to talk about their men? There’s no actual reason.

Even worse–and their adventure’s lame too so to be worse is an achievement–is Jason. He doesn’t appear, being mad at Bruce for teaming up with Catwoman (or so says Alfred).

It’s a lousy team-up, lousy comic.

D+ 

CREDITS

It Takes Two Wings to Fly; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Workman; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics 558 (January 1986)

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Moench paces the feature pretty well–Batman’s taking Catwoman to the hospital while Robin hangs out around Nocturna’s observatory. Throw in Robin having the save a guy obsessed with Nocturna and Batman having a little dust-up with the Nightslayer again (seriously, terrible villain).

The nicest stuff is actually with Bullock, who has to deliver bad news to a new widow. Moench also focuses on the romance between Batman and Catwoman, but doesn’t actually give them any time to develop together. They’re either fighting someone or she’s in a hospital bed. It remains to be seen what Moench’ll do once she’s out of the bed.

The art, from Colan and Smith, is rather nice. Robin’s got some good moments, though the Jason Todd angle of the character has almost disappeared at this point.

Truly terrible Green Arrow backup, written by Dean R. Traven. Even Trevor von Eeden’s pencils are lazy.

B 

CREDITS

Strange Loves; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Workman. Green Arrow, Believe Everything I Hear; writer, Dean R. Traven; penciller, Trevor von Eeden; inker, Dell Barras; colorist, Jeanine Casey; letterer, Agustin Mas. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics 557 (December 1985)

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I think Smith’s got to be doing more of the finishing these last few issues. The panels are much smoother than usual Colan panels.

Again, absurd melodrama and, again Moench makes it work. Batman’s proclamations of love for Catwoman work even better because she hasn’t been a character in the comic for so long. Moench’s parade of other women for Bruce and Batman have distracted from her. Better yet, her absence means Moench didn’t have a chance to mess her up like Vicki or Julia.

There’s a lengthy recap from Bullock regarding Catwoman and Nocturna. It’s sort of a waste, sort of not. The art’s good and Moench writes Bullock dialogue well. Then the comic just sort of becomes talking heads. It’s definitely a bridge story, but good art and ambitious superhero melodrama writing make it worthwhile.

As is usual, Green Arrow has some silly writing and some good art.

B+ 

CREDITS

The Bleeding Night; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Workman. Green Arrow, Zen and the Art of Dying; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Jerome Moore; inker, Bruce D. Patterson; colorist, Jeanine Casey; letterer, Bob Lappan. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics 556 (November 1985)

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There’s some fantastic art from Colan and Smith this issue. Moench’s still got his weird relationship between Jason and Nocturna, but Colan sure does draw it well. When Batman finally shows up–after discovering Nocturna is a crime boss–and Moench’s script has him inexplicably drawn to her… the art is what sells the scene.

The Nocturna art is just gravy. The best part of the issue is Bullock’s theory about Robin being Nocturna’s son–not Jason Todd, but some other kid. He’s ranting and raving and Colan and Smith draw the whole thing with an Eisner bent. It’s just fantastic; full of energy.

Batman and Robin, however, don’t show up much. Robin’s just there for the setup, Batman’s just there for the finish. Nice Batman fight scene though.

The Green Arrow backup is lame; Cavalieri resolves a lengthy subplot and it’s boring. Nice art from Moore and Patterson though.

B+ 

CREDITS

The Bleeding Night; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Workman. Green Arrow, Zen and the Art of Dying; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Jerome Moore; inker, Bruce D. Patterson; colorist, Jeanine Casey; letterer, Bob Lappan. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics 555 (October 1985)

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Gene Colan and Bob Smith are back on the art and it’s a strange return for Colan. It’s a lot of action and Colan goes a lot more dynamic than he usually does. There are some fantastic panels in this issue. Nice page layouts too. It’s a winner on the art.

Moench writes Jason’s diary; he’s obviously trying to get a handle on the character. It almost feels like a writing exercise, given all Jason’s distinct slang. It’s not quite a full personality but Moench seems aware Jason is lacking as a character.

And Moench’s slightly successful. There’s some very good insight, but then he offsets it with some unlikely nonsense. Only the nonsense is serious.

The Green Arrow backup is written by Elliot S! Magin and has Dick Dillin and Dick Giordano on art. It’s a throwback story, innocent Ollie, but they don’t play it up. Simple but filling.

B- 

CREDITS

Returning Reflections; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Workman. Green Arrow, The Case of the Runaway Shoebox!; writer, Elliot S! Maggin; penciller, Dick Dillin; inker, Dick Giordano. Editors, Len Wein and Julius Schwartz; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman 383 (May 1985)

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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 546 (January 1985)

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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.

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.

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.

Detective Comics 543 (October 1984)

5648

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.

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.

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.

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.

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