Batman 396 (June 1986)

2858

Robin is such a little punk this issue Gordon finally yells at him. Moench has given up on Bruce Wayne and Jason Todd the past few issues–given up on any Robin characterization besides him being impertinent–but it doesn’t actually hurt the comic much. Moench wasn’t good at the regular people stuff anyway.

Mandrake’s art has a lot of energy. I love the work he puts in on expressions, whether they’re full panel or just a medium shot.

This issue finishes the “Film Freak” story–probably the worst of Moench’s villains and most of them are so terrible, being worst is an accomplishment (the Night-Slayer was a doozy). There’s a lot of action, a tight pace, a surprise third act… right after a surprise in the second. Moench’s on his plotting game at least.

It took him too long to find the partner dynamics he could write well.

B- 

CREDITS

Box-Office Smash; writer, Doug Moench; artist, Tom Mandrake; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Costanza; 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.

Batman 395 (May 1986)

2857

Moench tries for way too much this issue. First, he’s got a new villain for Batman to deal with, then he’s got Batman and Catwoman smooching at the Bat-signal. Robin’s jealous so he teams up with Harvey Bullock. So both teams are investigating, Robin’s being nasty to Catwoman, but then it all turns out it’s a Hitchcock homage with Vicki and Julia.

Any number of those items could fuel its own issue–or easily half issue–but Moench throws them all in here. Oh, I forgot his lame, film-quoting villain. Moench overstuffs the issue; it comes as a surprise even, which is a plus. At first, it seems like Julia and Vicki are around as filler for a scene, not the protagonists of the cliffhanger.

Another problem is Mandrake. He’s too loose this issue, his figures too exaggerated. Hurried might be all right, but the art seems rushed.

C+ 

CREDITS

The Film Freak; writer, Doug Moench; artist, Tom Mandrake; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterers, John Workman and John Costanza; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics 561 (April 1986)

5666

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.

Batman 394 (April 1986)

2856

The Gulacy art continues, albeit in a far less interesting environment. Batman, the KGB agent and Robin have to stop the villain from poisoning the city. It seems a much simpler story–if it weren’t a Soviet assassin as the villain, it could be the Joker. And some boring looking Soviet guy isn’t the best use of Gulacy.

Moench tries really hard to show the common links between Americans and Russians; it’s warm and fuzzy eighties peace-nik stuff. It’s okay, mostly thanks to Gulacy’s art, but without it I can’t imagine the book being very entertaining.

Where Moench is interesting is Robin. Jason Todd has changed completely at this point, just a background object as opposed to Bruce’s would-be adoptive son. He even calls Bruce “boss” at one point. Moench’s really pulled the plug on the adopting business.

It’s a fantastic looking comic book with a serviceable script.

B+ 

CREDITS

At the Heart of Stone; writer, Doug Moench; artist, Paul Gulacy; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman 393 (March 1986)

774351

Some lucky person out there, hopefully, has the original pages to this issue. Paul Gulacy guests and he does amazing work. There’s a lot of design influences, but all of them work. Well, sort of. They’re great, but they lead to the dialogue filling most of them. Moench writes a wordy script this issue and there’s not the right space for the words.

Batman is doing a mission for the CIA–again no Jason appearance–and he basically plays James Bond. He even hooks up with a female KGB agent. They have some good banter, but there’s way too much exposition. Even without Gulacy’s grand composition, Moench’s script has enough story for two issues.

The story is regularly silly, but the art makes everything a wonder; Gulacy delivers a gorgeous comic book.

The issue is also the first in Moench’s run so far not to continue over in Detective Comics.

B+ 

CREDITS

The Dark Rider; writer, Doug Moench; artist, Paul Gulacy; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Costanza; 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.

Batman 392 (February 1986)

2854

I’m not sure how I feel about Jan Duursema inking Mandrake. Somehow the vibrancy of the art is gone; the action scenes feel static. Maybe the best sequence is a car accident, just because of the motion has to be included.

That quibble aside, it’s a genial issue. Batman and Catwoman–she’s a vigilante now, much to Bullock’s chagrin–spend a night on the town. It’s supposed to be romantic, but they end up having to fight crime. Moench doesn’t get the tone deafness of it–they have a cute banter scene, are about to kiss, have to stop and go prevent an incredibly violent rape.

Not cute stuff.

Moench’s trying though, he’s definitely trying. The issue is all one night, so there’s no opportunity to see what he’s doing with Bruce Wayne. Bruce seems downgraded, but who knows.

Good characterizations–Bullock and Catwoman especially.

The comic’s bland and fine.

B- 

CREDITS

A Town on the Night; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Tom Mandrake; inker, Jan Duursema; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: