Batman 385 (July 1985)

2847

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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)

5649

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)

2839

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)

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.

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