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.

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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.

Godzilla 5 (December 1977)

Oh, I get it, the bad guy keeps calling Gabe “black man” because he’s a racist and it (hopefully) makes the reader take an immediate dislike to the character.

But Moench did basically the same thing with Dum Dum in the last issue and the reader’s not supposed to want Godzilla to step on him.

Huh. Misfire there.

The racial stuff is awful, regardless of Moench’s intention. When Gabe makes a “We Shall Overcome” reference, Moench’s gone off the deep end.

Sutton’s still on pencils, with Klaus Janson of all people joining him on inks. This issue’s almost impossible to follow, but it’s gloriously vibrant and full of movement. Janson’s inks can’t make Godzilla or the other giant monsters look any more proportional but he sure does make the issue fun to read.

When I say it’s impossible to follow… seriously, I haven’t got a clue about half the story.

CREDITS

The Isle of Lost Monsters; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Tom Sutton; inker, Klaus Janson; colorist, Phil Rachelson; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Archie Goodwin; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Daredevil 166 (September 1980)

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Matt has to run out on Foggy’s wedding because the Gladiator (I guess DC’s not the only company with idiotic villains) is holding a bunch of kids hostage–underprivileged kids, no less.

There’s enough going on McKenzie’s weaker writing habits don’t glare like usual and the issue’s pretty good until it’s obvious the kids aren’t in any actual danger. And setting the big fight in a museum of supervillains is a little goofy. Sure, there’s supposed to be other stuff at the museum, but it’s just bad guys.

Miller and Janson do phenomenal on the action art and pretty well on the rest. McKenzie’s writing of Foggy’s family and Matt and his latest girlfriend is all so trite, it’s hard to think any art could stand out in those scenes.

McKenzie’s biggest problem is his inability to make Matt (or anyone else) into an actual person instead of a caricature.

Daredevil 165 (July 1980)

Daredevil versus Dr. Octopus should be entertaining, right? McKenzie and (now co-plotter) Miller fail to make it entertaining.

The big problem, besides McKenzie’s now routinely silly dialogue and narration, is the Black Widow. She’s in Matt’s apartment, helping him do investigative work, but she’s not important to the issue whatsoever. She’s around to be jealous and to run off when he hurts her feelings.

McKenzie’s incapable of writing these troubled romance scenes. At best, they’re awkward. At worst, they’re laughable.

As for Doc Ock and Daredevil? It feels like Spidey and Doc Ock. Daredevil’s banter immediately drifts into Parker territory and McKenzie fixates on Spider-Man in Otto’s thought balloons. The issue’s another great cover without any story inside it.

Miller’s pencils also make a change this issue. With the exception of action scenes, everything is more static. He doesn’t have the compositional sense to make that approach worthwhile.

Daredevil 164 (May 1980)

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I have two big problems with this issue. First, Ben Urich–as a character–was never going to out Matt as Daredevil. Wait, three problems. Okay, continuing. Urich was never going to out Matt, so why use him instead of another reporter who might actually do it.

Second problem, why do another Daredevil origin? Sure, Miller and Janson draw a great comic and even make the yellow costume look good, but it’s kind of pointless. The retelling gives no new information.

The third problem, which is related to the second, is all the “devil” stuff. Apparently the Marvel Universe is a place where people are afraid of devils a lot because everyone calls Daredevil one. Because of the horns? It’s just stupid. Along with Matt’s childhood nickname being Daredevil because he ran away from fights.

The utterly fantastic art makes up for a lot of McKeznie’s stupid script details though.

C 

CREDITS

Expose; writer, Roger McKenzie; penciller, Frank Miller; inker, Klaus Janson; colorist, Glynis Wein; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Denny O’Neil; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Daredevil 163 (March 1980)

The cover, with Daredevil looking at an out-of-frame Hulk, is probably the best thing about this comic. Bruce Banner’s in New York and Matt’s the only one who can help him. Sadly, there’s no help for the creative team. Between McKenzie’s lame script, which gives the Hulk origin in expository thought balloons at least twice, and the tepid art, this issue’s a drag.

Miller’s got Joe Rubinstein assisting Janson on the inks, but one can’t blame the inkers here. Miller doesn’t know how to draw the Hulk. The body and musculature is all off. Worse is the city. After all his careful New York art, Miller turns in a generic cityscape for the big fight with Daredevil.

The best thing in the issue is Banner hulking out in the subway, but only because of the potential. McKenzie and company fail to realize it.

The issue is depressingly lame.

Daredevil 161 (November 1979)

McKenzie opens the issue writing a black guy like Stepin Fetchit. I guess Marvel didn’t worry about appealing to black readers.

The art from Miller and Janson make up for a lot of McKenzie’s bad writing. There’s some great action stuff at Coney Island, which all looks amazing. One double page spread in particular is wonderful.

The finale, though, disappoints. There’s a lot of Black Widow and McKenzie writes her poorly. Maybe if he didn’t entirely rely on her thought balloons it would be better.

He also writes Bullseye bad, which closes the issue off on a bad footing. Miller and Janson’s final fight scene is okay, but the setting’s boring and Bullseye’s whining is so dumb, it doesn’t matter if the art’s good.

McKenzie avoids giving Daredevil any significant time. Almost everything is from someone else’s perspective, like McKenzie lacks confidence… except when writing the issue’s rather lame dialogue.

Daredevil 160 (September 1979)

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I think I’m unappreciative of a narrative cuteness from McKenzie. The issue opens “Epilogue” and closes with “Prologue.” I think McKenzie means it to be “prologue” to the next issue while the opening is “epilogue” to the previous issue.

If the above is right, it’s dumb. If it’s wrong and no one caught the mixup, it’s worse. I can’t decide between the two. I mean, McKenzie forgets Matt Murdock’s blind here for a bit.

Miller and Janson still turn in strong art, but there’s nothing spectacular about it. McKenzie has a lot going on in the issue–Bullseye and Black Widow, Matt and friends, Daredevil at the Daily Bugle, then the big finish. Plus Daredevil discovering Bullseye has kidnapped Black Widow.

All of the scenes are perfunctory, especially when Matt and his girlfriend break up. The flashback to Bullseye’s last few days might be the best written stuff. McKeznie’s boring.

Daredevil 159 (July 1979)

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It’s a good thing Miller and Janson’s art is so strong, because there’s not much else to recommend this issue. Their New York rooftops are just fantastic.

Anyway, McKenzie shows an inclination to decompression here. A mystery bad guy hires an assassin to take out Daredevil. There’s some lead-up to the big fight with the assassin’s henchmen threatening Matt and Foggy, but most of the issue is just the fight.

While Daredevil’s outnumbered and even ends up in the water during the fight, there’s no contest. There’s no real struggle for him and it’s boring. The art’s good throughout the fight, which keeps it engaging, but the entire issue’s just a setup for the next issue’s guest villain.

There’s a disconnect between the art and writing. Miller and Janson create something special, while McKenzie’s just filling narration boxes. A fine example of the Marvel writing style at its worst.

Daredevil 158 (May 1979)

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Frank Miller’s first issue of Daredevil–he’s the new penciller–gets off to a rocky start. Roger McKenzie follows Black Widow through the Unholy Three kidnapping Matt. It’s a lot of Natasha whining about her place in the world, how she’s a curse on everything around her. She’s very annoying. And Miller and inker Klaus Janson draw her funny on the first page.

But once McKenzie’s following Matt through his kidnapping, the issue gets good. The revelation of the bad guy–the Death-Stalker (who’s really ugly, which is entirely for the reader’s benefit, not Matt’s) and the resolution are excellent.

Miller does a great job with fight scene; lots and lots of movement. But the most impressive work he does is at the end. Matt’s back at the office and they’re all cleaning up. The art’s just glorious in that scene.

It’s a good comic, something I wasn’t expecting.

Detective Comics 528 (July 1983)

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Gene Colan’s first issue on Detective (with Moench) is unexpected. There’s a dreamy, otherworldly, emotive quality to it. Harvey Bullock oozes repulsiveness; the symbolism becomes clear at the startling conclusion. Moench knows how to surprise–even if the cliffhanger isn’t exactly unexpected, its degree is a shock.

The issue closes up–after Batman’s adventures with Man-Bat–the new villain Moench introduced in his first issue, the Savage Skull. It’s strange reading these pre-Miller Batman comics when it was more possible for Batman to get his butt kicked by a boxer or whatnot. Moench gets that human element, the possibility of failure.

Instead of following Batman, Moench concentrates on Gordon, who’s life is crumbling. It’s effectively done, with the exposition finally a lot smoother. Maybe because of Colan’s great art.

Cavalieri and Cullin’s Green Arrow is pretty weak though. It’s incredibly juvenile, like an overlong Hostess fruit pie advertisement.

Marvel Treasury Edition 28 (July 1981)

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Was Jim Shooter paying himself by the word, because I don’t think I’ve ever read more exposition in a comic book. It’s terrible exposition too, but I suppose the sentences are grammatically correct. For the most part.

But what I can’t figure out is the artwork. The combination of John Buscema on pencils and Joe Sinnott on inks produces one of the worst eighties comic books I can remember seeing. Superman’s figure is strangely bulky, with a little head. But the facial features on everyone are awful. It’s a hideous thing to read.

The story concerns Dr. Doom trying again to take over the world, which is boring. The interesting stuff is Clark working at the Bugle and Peter working at the Planet. They should do a series. But not by Shooter, who makes Peter constantly horny.

Interesting to see the black chick after Clark though.

It’s an awful comic.

CREDITS

The Heroes and the Holocaust!; writers, Marv Wolfman and Jim Shooter; penciller, John Buscema; inkers, Joe Sinnott, Terry Austin, Klaus Janson, Bob McLeod, Al Milgrom, Steve Leialoha, Walt Simonson, Bob Layton, Brett Breeding, Joe Rubinstein and Bob Wiacek; colorist, Glynis Wein; letterer, Joe Rosen; editor, Milgrom; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Dark Horse Presents Fifth Anniversary Special (April 1991)

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This special is far from an accurate representation of Dark Horse Presents. Everything looks very professional.

The Aerialist and Heartbreakers installments are both long needed establishments of the series’ ground situation.

I even liked the Heartbreakers one (Bennett’s writing is far stronger from the clones’ perspective, versus their creator).

There’s also lots of disposable stuff–Concrete, The American and Black Cross are all weak, though Warner’s art is better on Cross than I’ve ever seen it. Chadwick and Verheiden use their stories to blather about American culture.

Of the two Miller’s–Give Me Liberty and Sin City–I almost prefer Sin City. Liberty‘s a little overbearing, though the Gibbons art is nice.

Prosser and Janson do a great adaptation of an Andrew Vachss. The Roachmill, Aliens and Aliens vs. Predator entries are all fantastic.

I’m a little peeved Bob the Alien is on the cover but not in the issue.

CREDITS

Give Me Liberty, Martha Washington’s War Diary: April 16, 2012; story by Frank Miller; art by Dave Gibbons. Concrete, Objects of Value; story and art by Paul Chadwick; lettering by Bill Spicer. Aliens; story by John Arcudi; art by Simon Bisley. The American; story by Mark Verheiden; pencils by Dougie Braithwaite; inks by Robert Campanella; lettering by Pat Brosseau. Roachmill; story and art by Rich Hedden and Tom McWeeney. Placebo; script by Jerry Prosser, based on a story by Andrew Vachss; art by Klaus Janson; lettering by Michael Heisler. Black Cross; story and art by Chris Warner; lettering by Jim Massara. The Aerialist, Part Three; story and art by Matt Wagner; lettering by Kurt Hathaway. Heartbreakers, The Prologue; story by Anina Bennet; art by Paul Guinan; lettering by Willie Schubert. Aliens vs. Predator; story by Randy Stradley; art by Phill Norwood; lettering by Brosseau. Sin City, Episode One; story and art by Frank Miller. Edited by Stradley.

Batman 348 (June 1982)

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After a lame Man-Bat two-parter, Conway does the story right with this issue. He’s got Colan and Janson on it–there’s a heartbreaking panel of Man-Bat holding his daughter here–and everything is just in perfect sync.

It’s so well-done, I can even excuse the part when Bruce changes to Batman to take Man-Bat’s daughter to look for him (Langstrom is so far gone he’ll need a mental shock to bring him back) but the kid gets to see Alfred and Dick hanging out with Batman. I guess they figure she’s too young to figure it out.

Oh, and there’s a funny opening with Dick and Bruce dropping the giant penny as they refurnish the original Batcave.

The only misstep is the melancholy Jim Gordon, who’s never really been a strong character in the Conway run.

The Catwoman backup has a rushed cliffhanger, but it’s otherwise fantastic. Jones’s opening scene is great.

CREDITS

Shadow Play; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Klaus Janson; colorist, Adrienne Roy. The Man, the Bullet, the Cat, Part One; writer, Bruce Jones; penciller, Trevor von Eeden; inker, Pablo Marcos; colorist, Tom Ziuko. Letterer, Ben Oda; editor, Dick Giordano; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics 512 (March 1982)

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Colan and Janson are back in sync, which is good because Conway’s overwriting the dialogue again. It’s like he can’t decide if Batman is supposed to think or talk his plans for athletic feats. This time I was actually wondering if Batman was talking to the villain, since his expository dialogue to himself comes in the middle of a conversation.

It’s a pretty weak story. Conway’s finishing two-parter introducing a new villain (Dr. Death–I don’t think he has any further appearances) and there’s not a lot of time for subplots. Robin’s sick, so Batman’s all upset… Vicki Vale is out to prove Bruce is Batman, which might screw up their romance… and the new Gotham City mayor is a corrupt moron.

The good art helps a lot.

The Batgirl backup is incredibly mean–with Barbara up against a vicious motorcycle gang. Worst Delbo art I’ve seen so far.

CREDITS

The Fatal Prescription of Doctor Death!; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Klaus Janson; colorist, Adrienne Roy. Riders in the Night!; writer, Cary Burkett; penciller, Jose Delbo; inker, Joe Giella; colorist, Tom Ziuko. Letterer, John Costanza; editors, Dave Manak and Dick Giordano; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman 345 (March 1982)

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Where to start….

Colan’s pencils must have been really hurried here, because it’s all inks. Except it doesn’t even look like strong Janson inks. The weak art is quite a shock given the artists.

The story is generally solid. Batman and Robin go after a new criminal mastermind, Dick and Bruce both have romances developing, Jim Gordon’s fighting for his job. Conway’s got the right mix, once again, between superhero stuff and regular people stuff. It’s a fine enough superhero book.

The impressive thing is the Catwoman backup. I didn’t even know Bruce Jones had written Catwoman backups for DC. The writing is great–Selina is mooning over Bruce (Wayne–apparently not knowing he’s making a play for Vicki Vale in the feature) and getting drafted by the cops to help them out. The von Eeden artwork–thanks to the Marcos inks–is stunningly not what I expected. Spectacular comic.

CREDITS

Calling Doctor Death; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Klaus Janson; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. Terror Train!; writer, Bruce Jones; penciller, Trevor von Eeden; inker, Pablo Marcos; colorist, Tom Ziuko; letterer, Todd Klein. Editors, Dave Manak and Dick Giordano; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman 344 (February 1982)

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Oh, neat, Colan and Janson are a regular team? My only complaint about the synthesis is some of the close-up panels–sometimes they’ve got all the Colan detail to faces, sometimes they don’t.

The story is solid enough except Conway has one thing he never explains–Batman keeps showing up to haunt Poison Ivy and no one else can see him. I was expecting some revelation of a hypnotic suggestion (to counter the one she’s had Bruce under for about six issues), but there’s nothing. The issue just ends with Dick Grayson coming back to the Gotham and some of the mayoral issues being resolved.

While Conway does end some story lines (Robin being away, the mayoral candidate being after Batman), he raises more new questions here than he answers of the old ones.

While it’s a little loose (everything is very neatly resolved), but it’s a solid issue.

CREDITS

Monster, My Sweet!; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Klaus Janson; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda; editors, Dave Manak and Dick Giordano; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics 510 (January 1982)

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There are two Mad Hatters? I’m now incredibly confused. According to this issue, there was an original Mad Hatter and then a replacement and then the original came back. At least in the eighties.

The Mad Hatter story–which gets the cover–is sort of a fake A plot, since the issue mostly concentrates on the Gotham City mayoral race. Conway starts the issue with it and he ends the issue with it. The Hatter stuff in the middle is just to provide a fight scene or two (and a supervillain for the cover).

The Colan and Janson art is nice–but I still don’t think Janson is a good inker for Colan. Colan’s figures are lithe, Janson’s inks aren’t. So, while playing to neither artist’s strength, it’s still a very interesting looking, well illustrated book.

The Batgirl backup mostly continues Barbara’s whining about not being Supergirl. But not terrible.

CREDITS

Head-Hunt By a Mad Hatter; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Gene Colan; inker and colorist, Klaus Janson; letterer, Ben Oda. Bride of Destruction!; writer, Cary Burkett; penciller, Jose Delbo; inker, Joe Giella; colorist, Tom Ziuko; letterer, John Costanza. Editors, Dave Manak and Dick Giordano; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman 343 (January 1982)

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Yuck. Conway’s Detective is so good and his Batman is so bad. And he’s even got Gene Colan and Klaus Janson on the art here. With Janson’s inks, Colan doesn’t exactly look like himself. Everything’s a lot sharper, a lot more defined. It’s a good looking issue, but I don’t know if there’s a single panel I’d point out as Colan. On the other hand, I’d have easily been able to guess Janson worked on it.

The story’s atrocious–Batman versus some moronic new villain. The bad part isn’t even the plot, it’s Conway’s writing of the character. He’s got Batman talking to himself for a few pages, explaining everything for the reader… but not discovering some clue, it’s Batman describing swinging from a rope.

On the other hand, the Robin backup is well-executed. None of Conway’s problems in the feature show up in the backup. Maybe he’s overextended.

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CREDITS

A Dagger So Deadly…; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Klaus Janson; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Costanza. Odyssey’s End; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Trevor von Eeden; inker, Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Carl Gafford; letterer, P. Bernard R. Editors, Dave Manak and Dick Giordano; publisher, DC Comics.

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