The Flash 304 (December 1981)

The Flash #304

I think Bates must have just learned the word “erg” before writing this issue because he uses it ostentatiously.

He also seemingly anticipates Tron–maybe the previews were already out–and puts Flash inside a really lame video game. The coolest part of the issue is how Bates doesn’t worry about resolution, just telling the best story he can… even if Barry’s involvement with it is contrived. There’s finally what make be taken for character development–Barry hanging out with his neighbors–and it’s lousy.

Not to mention there’s no resolution with his parents from the previous issue, which might have been nice.

Still, it’s not a terrible story and Infantino has room to break out the action. Maybe even too much.

The Firestorm backup is packed with content–there’s a diary flashback device–and decent if abrupt art from Broderick and Rodriguez. The feature should’ve donated them some space.

B- 

CREDITS

One More Blip… and You’re Dead!; writer, Cary Bates; penciller, Carmine Infantino; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Gene D’Angelo; letterer, John Costanza. Firestorm, The Heart Is the Hunter!; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Jerry Serpe; letterer, Pierre Bernard Jr. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

The Flash 303 (November 1981)

The Flash #303

It’s a good issue for Bates and Infantino. Bates comes up with a lot of set pieces, but doesn’t hurry them. Infantino actually has time to make them visually interesting.

This issue has the big reveal with Barry’s evil dad and it’s only about six issues too late. Maybe five. It would have been better if Bates had gone straight from the car accident to the Golden Glider issue to this resolution. None of the previous foreshadowing delivers because Bates revelation isn’t ingenious, it’s contrived.

Speaking of contrived–why doesn’t Flash call a super friend for help? If Flash is fighting a supernatural power, can’t he just call the Spectre or Dead Man?

Bates’s logic problems culminate with a huge one at the end.

The Firestorm backup has Pat Broderick on pencils and Adrian Gonzales on inks; there’s some great art here. And besides the recap, Conway’s writing is strong.

B 

CREDITS

The Top is Alive and Well in Henry Allen!; writer, Cary Bates; penciller, Carmine Infantino; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Gene D’Angelo; letterer, John Costanza. Firestorm, The Hyena Syndrome!; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Adrian Gonzales; colorist, Jerry Serpe; letterer, Pierre Bernard Jr. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

The Flash 302 (October 1981)

The Flash #302

I was hoping Bates would keep Flash running smoothly after the previous issue, but this one doesn’t bode well for the series keeping up. Even more than usual, Barry–and the Flash–are less characters in the comic than they are movable pieces for Bates’s plot. There’s not even the attempt at showing the Flash’s fantastic powers. Instead, Bates shows him doing what equates to a grade school science project without the traditional verbose, fantastic explanation.

This issue has Flash apparently falling for the Golden Glider. Now, I’m not sure about her family situation, but she doesn’t remember Flash messing with her brother a few issues ago. I guess they aren’t in touch. SO why’s she important–do they have some deep, repressed attraction for one another? Nope, it’s all for Bates’s evil dad plot.

It’s lame.

The Firestorm backup isn’t much better. Again, fine composition from Cowans, weak detail. And rushed writing.

C+ 

CREDITS

Lisa Starts with L and That Stands for Lethal; writer, Cary Bates; penciller, Carmine Infantino; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Gene D’Angelo. Firestorm, Invitation to Revelation; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Denys Cowan; inker, Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Jerry Serpe. Letterer, Ben Oda; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

The Flash 301 (September 1981)

The Flash #301

Bates seems a lot more comfortable and assured this issue–maybe assured isn’t the right word. He’s ambitious again, both in plotting the feature story and how he gets through it. The only weak part is when the Flash has to beg for Barry Allen’s job back. It reveals how little work Bates does on either character.

The issue’s sort of a thriller, with Barry’s boss being kidnapped and him having to figure it out. Throw in his mom waking up from her coma and his evil impostor dad up to no good and it’s the most compelling issue in a while. Especially since Bates disguises the kidnapping plot’s second act as the third.

Oddly, Infantino’s constrained, almost everything is in summary. There are no real scenes.

Similarly, in the Firestorm backup, Cowans’s art is competent but problematic. Luckily, Conway packs in good material, lots of character development and plot movements.

B 

CREDITS

…And the Beat Goes Off!; writer, Cary Bates; penciller, Carmine Infantino; colorist, Gene D’Angelo. Firestorm, How Laughs the Hyena?; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Denys Cowan; inker, Dennis Jensen; colorist, Jerry Serpe. Inker, Bob Smith; letterer, Ben Oda; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

The Flash 300 (August 1981)

The Flash #300

About eighty-five percent of the issue is spent on flashbacks. Apparently Barry is in a mental institution, covered in bandages, and he’s been imagining the Flash side of his life for years. As he remembers things to keep himself sane, Bates and Infantino visualize them. These little stories tend to be short, sometimes just a few panels.

Infantino does it successfully but also pointlessly. Who cares about all these villain origin recaps? They actually make the comic less accessible.

Because there’s no character development, Bates instead goes for a couple surprises for the finish. The big one is drawn out and talky, the second but not bigger one is too short and too breezy. Bates just doesn’t seem to know what he wants to do.

A lot of the art is fine, but even Infantino can’t make the exasperatingly boring entertaining.

Worst is how abruptly Bates end the story.

C 

CREDITS

1981 — A Flash Odyssey; writer, Cary Bates; penciller, Carmine Infantino; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Carl Gafford; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

The Flash 299 (July 1981)

The Flash #299

It’s too bad, but not even the Infantino art can make this issue particularly worthwhile. There’s a real lack of personality to all of it; Bates is just building towards the big event with Barry’s evil father (I wonder if he’s secretly Reverse Flash, could he be) in the next issue. Not even a scene with Barry’s dad holding a gun to his head (while Barry is sleeping) has any weight.

Worse, Bates gets rid of all The Shade for most of the issue. The Flash teaming up with a supervillain might actually be interesting but The Shade’s barely in the issue. More time is spent on Barry verifying The Shade’s story than the odd couple teaming up.

And the big action finale is lame–it’s color effects, there’s nothing for Infantino to do.

Conway then tries something strange with the Firestorm backup–an average criminal versus Firestorm. Sadly, it doesn’t work.

C 

CREDITS

A Stab in the Black; writer, Cary Bates; penciller, Carmine Infantino; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Gene D’Angelo; letterer, John Costanza. Firestorm, The Robbery; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Denys Cowan; inker, Dennis Jensen; colorist, Jerry Serpe; letterer, Todd Klein. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

The Flash 298 (July 1981)

The Flash #298

I’m not sure how to phrase it exactly, because Bates hasn’t exactly dumbed down The Flash for Infantino’s return to the book, but he’s definitely dulled the characters down. It’s like he’s changing the audience, aiming younger. There’s no character development anymore and the character details are lame. One colleague of Barry’s wonders if he’s always running off because the guy has bad breath.

Yawn.

There’s also not as much emphasis on the science of The Flash’s powers. Bates just lets Infantino run wild with the art and fills in with endless exposition. It makes for a strange read, because whether Infantino is trying hard or not, the art’s excellent. But Bates is no longer trying. It’s too bad.

The Firestorm backup still has Cowan on the art and thankfully no high school scenes. There’s a lot of action packed into a few pages and it all works well enough.

C+ 

CREDITS

A Deadly Shade of Peril; writer, Cary Bates; penciller, Carmine Infantino; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Gene D’Angelo. Firestorm, The Multiplex Complex; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Denys Cowan; inker, Bob Wiacek; colorist, Jerry Serpe. Letterer, Ben Oda; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

The Flash 297 (May 1981)

The Flash #297

There’s something a little off about this issue. While Infantino is (hopefully) the new regular artist and he definitely has some good work in the issue–he can turn the smallest panel into the fullest one with all the movement and action–Bates is a little tone deaf.

The problem might be the two-fold nature of the plotting. Captain Cold is out on parole and has turned himself into a hero, but Barry’s mom is also in a coma following a traffic accident. Bates dismisses any struggle about being a superhero while being a supportive son–Barry decides being the Flash is more important, no question.

The Cold plot has a terrible resolution. Bates introduces a good story for him, then rushes through it.

Good thing the art’s nice.

Denys Cowan pencils the Firestorm backup’s high school students like thirty-somethings. Conway tries to do some character work, but there aren’t enough pages.

C+ 

CREDITS

Capt. Cold’s Cold, Cold Flame; writer, Cary Bates; penciller, Carmine Infantino; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Gene D’Angelo; letterer, Todd Klein. Firestorm, Multiplex Means Multiple Choice… Death!; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Denys Cowan; inker, Bob Wiacek; colorist, Phil Rachelson; letterer, Milton Snapinn. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

The Flash 296 (April 1981)

The Flash #296

What’s strange about the feature is how much better Bates writes Elongated Man and Sue Dibney than he does Barry and the Flash. There’s a lot of charm to his characterizations of the Dibneys and it breathes a lot of life into the story.

Of course, the story also has Carmine Infantino artwork and every page has one or two phenomenal panels; Infantino is able to turn anything the Flash does into a moment of comic gold, whether it’s a fight scene or just a costume change. It’s not just how much movement Infantino implies, it’s how he composes each panel to have a narrative flow to it.

It also doesn’t hurt the story’s a genuine surprise with a great reveal.

The Firestorm backup has Conway trying too hard to make the protagonist likable, but some ambitious artwork from Starlin. Rather unfortunately, the detail doesn’t live up to the composition.

B 

CREDITS

The Man Who Was Cursed to the Bone!; writer, Cary Bates; penciller, Carmine Infantino; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Gene D’Angelo. Firestorm, Rain, Rain, Go Away… Come to Kill Us Another Day!; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Jim Starlin; inker, Bob Wiacek; colorist, Jerry Serpe. Letterer, John Costanza; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

The Flash 292 (December 1980)

The Flash #292

Bates sure does try hard to get the reader to pay attention. He has another sequence this issue where the Flash discovers some clue and Bates calls out the reader to try to figure it out too. There’s only one problem with it… Bates still writes the revelation scene like the reader didn’t figure it out. So if the reader has figured it out, he or she has wasted some engagement time.

Engagement time–there’s no reward to figuring it out. It’s a DC no prize.

The story itself is a neat one, with the Mirror Master outsmarting Barry for a while. Heck doesn’t do great on the art and Bates writes the new love interest real annoying… but the main plot works out well.

The Firestorm backup is all action and lots of good Perez composition. He and Conway pack the limited pages. The pluses outweigh the lackluster finish.

B 

CREDITS

Mirror, Mirror, Off The Wall…; writer, Cary Bates; artist, Don Heck; colorist, Gene D’Angelo; letterer, Milt Snapinn. Firestorm, The Hostages of Precinct 13!; writer, Gerry Conway; pencillers, George Perez and Bob Smith; inker, Smith; colorist, Lynne Gelfer; letterer, Ben Oda. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

The Flash 291 (November 1980)

The Flash #291

Even though Bates comes up with a lot of excitement for the Flash this issue–and the reader too–there’s something off about the feature story. Bates and Heck (inking himself to questionable success) put Barry through a bunch of different types of action. There’s a couple regular fights, a supervillain fight, a mid-town disaster sequence with a helicopter getting shot out of the sky, plus all the stuff with Barry’s neighbor thinking he’s trying to kill her.

But it’s almost too much. Bates gives up on any attempt at character development, save one scene with Barry’s neighbor (not the girl, but some dude), and the action goes so fast it’s hard to find any footing.

It’s a darned interesting approach–giving the readers their money’s worth–but it’s messy.

And then the Firestorm backup has a lot of character development, but it doesn’t leave Conway time to give Perez anything phenomenal to draw.

B- 

CREDITS

The Sabretooth is a Very Deadly Beast!; writer, Cary Bates; artist, Don Heck; colorist, Gene D’Angelo; letterer, Milt Snapinn. Firestorm, The Hyena Laughs Last; writer, Gerry Conway; pencillers, George Perez and Bob Smith; inker, Smith; colorist, Lynne Gelfer; letterer, John Costanza. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Atari Force 12 (December 1984)

Atari Force #12

I think the problem is simpler than I would have thought–by problem I mean why Conway’s not as on the ball with the series anymore. He’s not even taking the time to script, just plot. Andy Helfer’s got the inglorious task of scripting. It’s hard to hold the issue against Helfer, the series’s breaking.

Atari Force works when it’s about the characters and García-Lopez’s approach to sci-fi. There’s a lot of villain stuff–it’s just Bond villainy at an intergalactic level. Maybe with some Road Warrior thrown in. Boring.

Worse, the character stuff this issue is tepid. Dart being patient with Blackjak isn’t engaging, especially not with Helfer’s very calm, almost feminist approach to his betrayal. And surfer boy’s trial scene is really weak.

There’s a lovely Keith Giffen backup with surfer boy’s pet though, just lovely. It’s kind of a parable.

Hopefully the series will improve.

C+ 

CREDITS

Revelations!; writers, Gerry Conway and Andy Helfer; penciller, José Luis García-López; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Tom Ziuko; letterer, Bob Lappan; editor, Helfer; publisher, DC Comics.

Atari Force 11 (November 1984)

Atari Force #11

There’s very little personality to this issue. About the most of it comes from Babe–the rock creature–who apologizes at one point. It shows something going on besides the main plots, which are three.

First, there’s the deception on the team. It’s all really predictable and Conway doesn’t spend any time trying to make it palatable because it’s not. It’s too obvious and Conway can’t focus on it without making the characters seem too dumb.

Second, there’s surfer dude in captivity and the people around him. Again, not very engaging stuff because it’s a bunch of supporting cast members talking about a main cast member and the main cast member not doing anything.

Finally, there’s the bad guy. The Atari in Atari Force really comes through a few times because a lot of his dialogue sounds like terrible video game boss dialogue.

The issue’s not awful, just excruciatingly rote.

C 

CREDITS

Betrayal; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, José Luis García-López; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Tom Ziuko; letterer, Bob Lappan; editor, Andy Helfer; publisher, DC Comics.

Atari Force 9 (September 1984)

Atari Force #9

First observation–Conway and García-Lopez are aware they’re stocking the team with adorable, mischievous space aliens. It’s kind of weird. Must be a way to make the comic more likable at a glance.

This issue, nine issues into the second series, recaps events from the first series. Pertinent events. Surfer boy has gone back to New Earth to talk to people–hopefully he’ll bring the team back some fresh food and toilet paper–and besides a bonding session with his shrink, it’s all back story.

The art in the rest of the comic makes up for the rush job on the flashback. Conway checks in with some of the rest of the cast and treads a bit of water preparing for the surfer to get back. The likability helps the treading go smoothly.

It’s a slight issue and Conway overdoes the flashbacks but he’s got the series firmly footed.

B- 

CREDITS

Memory Lane; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, José Luis García-López; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Tom Ziuko; letterer, Bob Lappan; editor, Andy Helfer; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics 567 (October 1986)

5672

The headline on the cover promises an "off-beat" story from Harlan Ellison. Off-beat can't have been an intentional euphemism for bad… Ellison writes Batman as an insensitive, ill-mannered, narcissist.

On patrol, Batman can't find anyone actually needing his help. Instead of thinking the best of people, Batman assumes the worst. Ellison might like the character, but apparently he thinks of him as a reactionary fascist.

Batman moves from one interaction from another, never learning from his propensity to prejudge. The art, from Colan and Smith, is occasionally too rough but often okay. There are some nice Colan establishing shots but also some very undercooked panels.

The Green Arrow backup is far superior. Not for the superhero content, which is competently illustrated by Woch and Dave Hunt, just poorly composed, but the finale. Cavalieri comes up with a great finish for the storyline.

As finale for a pre-Crisis Detective, it's dreadful.

D 

CREDITS

The Night of Thanks, But No Thanks!; writer, Harlan Ellison; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Costanza. Green Arrow, The Face of Barricade!; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Stan Woch; inker, Dave Hunt; colorist, Shelley Eiber; letterer, Todd Klein. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics 566 (September 1986)

5671

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)

5670

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)

5669

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)

5668

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)

5667

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)

5665

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)

5664

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)

5662

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)

5660

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.

Detective Comics 552 (July 1985)

5657

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.

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.

Detective Comics 550 (May 1985)

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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.

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