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.

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