The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 37 (July 1985)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #37

Not a good issue. Joey Cavalieri fills in on writing the main story, which has Ronnie’s nightmares informing his Firestorm adventure. It never gets explained how his nightmares could be so important to a Firestorm adventure, but it involves alien life forms so it shouldn’t be hard.

Cavalieri tries too hard to give the story gravity and weight but there’s a framing sequence informing the reader it’s a flashback. So who cares?

Alex Niño pencils the story, with Duncan Andrews inking, and it’s a vaguely psychedelic experience. Niño and Andrews go crazy with the details but there’s no sense of composition, not to mention a complete lack of natural transitions between panels.

The framing sequence isn’t much better, with Kayanan getting two inkers to replace Alan Kupperberg. Only all new inkers Ian Akin and Brian Garvey bring are flat, awkward faces and strange body parts.

It’d work with better art.

C 

CREDITS

Not In Our Stars But In Ourselves!; writers, Gerry Conway and Joey Cavalieri; pencillers, Rafael Kayanan and Alex Nino; inkers, Ian Akin, Brian Garvey and Nino; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, Duncan Andrews; editor, Julius Schwartz; publisher, DC Comics.

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 30 (December 1984)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #30

It’s another messy issue from Cavalieri. Firestorm gets arrested–I can’t believe they didn’t go with it for the cover–and then gets beat up in jail. He’s recovering from the brainwashing, so there’s not a lot he does in the comic. Instead, the lame villains are back. There’s Mindboggler, who’s doing all the brainwashing–only she’s supposed to be slightly sympathetic because her evil boss (in a hooded robe) energizes her powers through torture.

Then there’s a guy who can transform himself into anyone and then a street gang. Cavalieri takes the time to include the street gang’s leader is also brainwashing him.

These villains do not make an impressive rogues’ gallery. They’re bad.

There’s some subplot movement with the woman planning on suing Firestorm getting a job at Ronnie’s dad’s paper. Contrived doesn’t begin to describe it.

Worse, Tanghal doesn’t ink Kayanan very well. The weaker art significantly outweighs the stronger.

C 

CREDITS

The Depths of Despair; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Rafael Kayanan; inker, Romeo Tanghal; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, John Costanza; editors, Janice Race and Gerry Conway; publisher, DC Comics.

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 29 (November 1984)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #29

It’s Firestorm versus three really lame villains, one angry businesswoman and one angry high school classmate. I’m not sure what Cavalieri is trying to do–except further the problems with the series. Cavalieri doesn’t even bring Firehawk into the issue, which is odd since I thought they were trying to rescue her missing father the last issue, and she does provide an iota of character development.

Instead, Martin is mad at Ronnie for how he handles being Firestorm and Ronnie is obnoxious in general. He’s obnoxious as Firestorm, he’s obnoxious at school; there are some subplot developments–Martin’s romance and Ronnie’s dad getting fired, not to mention the woman threatening to sue Firestorm for property damage.

The finale has Firestorm fighting hallucinations without knowing he’s hallucinating. There are a few important things Kayanan and Rodriguez fail to make clear and the sequence flops. It’s nonsensical.

There’s some good art, but not enough.

C+ 

CREDITS

The Assassination Bureau; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Rafael Kayanan; inker, Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, Duncan Andrews; editors, Janice Race and Gerry Conway; publisher, DC Comics.

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 28 (October 1984)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #28

And now it's Joey Cavalieri scripting from a Conway plot. The most visible change in the scripting is the personality Cavalieri gives Firestorm's two sides. Martin is dismissive of how Ronnie does things and Ronnie is irresponsible.

There's a great line with Martin mocking Ronnie and Firestorm's romance with Firehawk.

The issue eventually has some great action art, but the opening has lots of problems. Someone–either Pablo Marcos or Rodriguez–doesn't do well finishing faces for Kayanan. All the civilian scenes are plagued with characters with awkward, too static expressions.

The issue's villain is goofy but just a mercenary and the action plays out rather well.

There are some hints of character development at the beginning for Ronnie and his high school problems but Cavalieri doesn't follow through. He's getting to be unlikable, mostly because he's barely present.

Ditto the turgid conspiracy subplot–it desperately needs its resolution. The sooner the better.

B- 

CREDITS

The End of His Rope; writers, Gerry Conway and Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Rafael Kayanan; inkers, Pablo Marcos and Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, John Costanza; editors, Janice Race and Conway; publisher, DC Comics.

Atari Force 13 (January 1985)

Atari Force #13

So for his last issue, Conway sort of destroys the world. At least, he destroys the world of Atari Force he has been establishing for twelve issues. And he lets Joey Cavalieri write the script for it. Eduardo Barreto takes over the pencils and does a great job with everything except full page spreads. He can’t do those for whatever reason.

Cavalieri manages a few decent moments, mostly with the supporting cast, as Martin–the series’s lead at this point–dukes it out with the big villain. Lousy fight dialogue on that one. Luckily those other scenes make up for it somewhat.

The ending might have more gravity if it weren’t just thirteen issues into the series. It’s hard to care too much about it, even at a macro level. Cavalieri (and Conway) don’t earn the concern.

There is a nice backup from Paul Kupperberg, Dave Manak and Giffen, however.

C- 

CREDITS

The End; writers, Gerry Conway and Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Eduardo Barreto; inker, Ricardo Villagran; 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)

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.

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)

5661

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 554 (September 1985)

5659

Janson art again. It’s just phenomenal. He’s even figured out he doesn’t like doing splash panels with bland superhero poses so instead he’s doing complex panels indicating lots of movement. The way Janson draws Robin beats how he draws Batman; he’s very enthusiastic about all the movement.

The feature story is actually rather confusing. Not throughout, when Batman, Robin and Harvey Bullock are trying to get on an ocean liner to save hostages, but when Moench gets to revealing why the hostage takers are in town. I had to read like maybe three times and I’m still not sure I’ve got it right.

But with the art–and the banter between Robin and Bullock–who cares. It’s a fine outing.

And then, in Green Arrow, Black Canary gets a new eighties costume and the Canary Cry. It’s not a great story, but the artwork’s excellent and it amuses well enough.

B- 

CREDITS

Port Passed; writer, Doug Moench; artist, Klaus Janson; letterer, Todd Klein. Green Arrow, Crazy from the Heat II: The Past is Prologue; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Jerome Moore; inker, Bruce D. Patterson; colorist, Shelley Eiber; letterer, Bob Lappan. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics 553 (August 1985)

5658

It’s an issue of amazing art. Klaus Janson isn’t doing a lot of detail on faces, which is not good, but his composition is breathtaking. The way he translates Moench’s script–sort of sapping out the sentimentality and enthusiasm–this issue is a mix between superhero idealism and melancholy cynicism. It’s beautiful. Janson’s also got the best Jason Todd Robin anyone’s drawn so far.

Moench’s script is fine. There’s too much with the Black Mask and the New Age mumbo jumbo Moench throws in, but the story moves great. It evens out. There’s an odd moment where Julia (Alfred’s daughter) apparently tells Lucius Fox a black joke.

Also, another plot detail to show up in Burton’s Batman–the corrosive acid on faces and subsequent masks.

The Green Arrow backup, with Black Canary losing her nerve, has some awesome mainstream art from Moore and Patterson. The script’s well meaning but slight.

B 

CREDITS

The False Face Society of Gotham; writer, Doug Moench; artist, Klaus Janson; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Workman. Green Arrow, Crazy from the Heat; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Jerome Moore; inker, Bruce D. Patterson; colorist, Jeanine Casey; letterer, Bob Lappan. Editor, Len Wein; 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 548 (March 1985)

5653

So Moench finds an interesting way to move past all the Jason Todd adoption stuff. He forgets about it. Oh, he mentions it a bunch, especially in the opening scene with Jason eating a snack in the kitchen with Bruce and Alfred. But the character relationships are all different now. There’s banter, there’s teasing Batman about his love life. Maybe Moench decided things had to change with Pat Broderick coming on as the penciller.

And Broderick does a fun job. His figures are sometimes off, but he’s got lots of enthusiasm, lots of energy. His expressions are fantastic too. He and Moench are playing it all a little tongue in cheek, which doesn’t work for Vicki and Julia (or Alfred talking about his daughter as an easy catch for Bruce), but it’s definitely amusing.

As for the Green Arrow backup… Cavalieri gets in a couple good twists. Nice art too.

B 

CREDITS

Beasts A-Prowl; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. Green Arrow, Clash Reunion III: Vengeance is Mine!; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Jerome Moore; inker, Bruce D. Patterson; colorist, Jeanine Casey; letterer, Ben Lappan. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics 547 (February 1985)

5652

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.

Detective Comics 546 (January 1985)

5651

From the start, it’s kind of clear Colan’s rushing on the art. Pretty much everyone looks like Dracula, from villainous Mayor Hill to angry little Jason Todd. Hill’s plotting, Jason’s being mean to adoptive mom, Nocturna, as they’re out for an evening walk.

In the meantime, Batman’s on the run from the cops, who don’t look like Dracula just because Colan and inker Smith draw them all really fat.

Moench writes a hurried story, really pulling on the heartstrings for the Nocturna subplot. He’s got a lot of balls in the air–her, the corrupt mayor, Bruce’s love life–and none of the threads are particularly interesting. Doesn’t help Bruce and Jason get the lightest characterization.

Then in the Green Arrow backup, Ollie goes to his high school reunion and fights a guy in what apparently becomes the Vigilante costume. The art, from Jerome Moore and Bruce Patterson, is good.

CREDITS

Hill’s Descent; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy. Green Arrow, Clash Reunion; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Jerome Moore; inker, Bruce Patterson; colorist, Jeanine Casey. Letterer, Ben Oda; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics 545 (December 1984)

5650

This issue has some beautiful art from Gene Colan and Bob Smith in the feature and then Shawn McManus in the backup, but it’s a disaster otherwise.

Moench spends most of the feature with his really lame character, the Night-slayer. Basically the guy’s just a standard acrobatic, costumed villain who carried on with Nocturna (his step-sister) and he’s injured and a blind girl takes care of him.

Does it seem like Bride of Frankenstein a little? Yes, it really does. See, better, the blind girl thinks he’s Batman.

As for Batman, he doesn’t get much of a story. Moench wastes over half the issue on Night-slayer and then ends it abruptly.

Just as abruptly as Cavalieri ends the Green Arrow backup, with someone finding out Ollie’s secret identity.

There’s not enough pages in either story for a satisfactory narrative; the wonderful art makes up for it… somewhat.

CREDITS

By Darkness Masked; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. Green Arrow, It’s No Fair II: Fair Raid; writer, Joey Cavalieri; artist, Shawn McManus; colorist, Jeanine Casey; letterer, Adam Kubert. 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.

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.

Detective Comics 542 (September 1984)

Detective 542

It says something when Moench’s got more character in two or three dialogue interchanges between Jason and Alfred’s daughter–they don’t like each other or something–than in a bunch of lengthy conversations between Batman and Robin. Family services takes Jason Todd away because Bruce Wayne neglected the legal process.

Yeah, right. Seems unlikely, especially when he tells the Wayne Foundation board they exist to do his bidding. It’s a megalomaniac scene and just shows how little Moench has to say about the character. The supporting cast? The villains? Moench does great. Batman? Not so much. Not at all.

If it weren’t for the moody artwork, there wouldn’t even be a point to having Batman and Robin show up in the comic. Everything else is better.

In the feature, anyway, because there’s nothing worse than the Green Arrow backup. Cavalieri introduces so many new character names, it story’s almost incomprehensible.

CREDITS

Between Two Nights; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. Green Arrow, The Nightfly II: The Turn of an Unfriendly Card ; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Shawn McManus; inker, Sal Trapani; colorist, Jeanine Casey; letterer, Bob Lappan. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics 541 (August 1984)

Detective 541

It’s a strange issue with Batman chasing the Penguin down to Antarctica to stop him from selling military secrets to the Russians. Moench throws in a couple twists, both of them vaguely amusing, but they come after his two instances of Batman overcoming impossible odds to succeed. They aren’t as amusing after Moench’s sapped all the suspense from the comic.

There’s a little with the subplots–family services is after Jason, Vicki Vale has an unwanted suitor–but I don’t think Bruce Wayne even makes an appearance this issue. I should have been keeping track of how often Moench gave him a scene.

The art’s decent. The Antarctic setting isn’t much, however; it’s not Colan’s fault, Moench just doesn’t have much good action for it.

Speaking of bad action, the Green Arrow backup is inane again. Worse, there aren’t even the now regular three excellent McManus panels. It’s a drag.

CREDITS

C–C-Cold!; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. Green Arrow, The Nightfly; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Shawn McManus; inker, Sal Trapani; colorist, Jeanine Casey; letterer, Bob Lappan. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics 540 (July 1984)

Detective 540

There’s something off about Colan’s layouts for the feature story. Moench splits it between Batman and Robin for the first half–Batman dealing with his Scarecrow-induced fears, Robin dealing with the Scarecrow himself–and it’s a busy issue. Somehow, it’s too busy for Colan, who doesn’t use panels but lets everything melt together. It gets muddled fast.

Still, lovely art. Just not great narrative art.

The story’s all action. Moench only spends a page on a subplot–the Dr. Fang one–and doesn’t even do much interaction between Batman and Robin or Batman and Scarecrow. Robin gets some decent face-off time with the Scarecrow though.

The end’s too sudden but it’s an okay enough story. Muddled or not, Colan and Smith draw creepy well.

McManus has a few excellent panels on the Green Arrow backup but the story’s pretty lame. Cavalieri’s big reveal is both predictable and confusing.

CREDITS

Something Scary; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. Green Arrow, In Cold Type!; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Shawn McManus; inker, Sal Trapani; colorist, Shelley Eiber; letterer, Bob Lappan. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics 539 (June 1984)

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Bob Smith inking Don Newton is something to see. There’s almost an Eisner-like quality to the faces. It’s beautiful art on the feature.

But Moench’s writing is awesome too, whether it’s the main plot line with Batman teaming up with the Rocky stand-in to hunt down a killer or Jason feeling bad he was so crappy to Alfred’s daughter. Moench actually asks a bit of the reader–Vicki Vale figures in, but she hasn’t even had an appearance recently–but the scenes pay off.

The big boxing finale is only okay, however. Something about the way Batman stands down doesn’t play right. The epilogue’s very strong though. Moench’s trying hard to do something special with the comic.

Sadly, slapped on to this ambition is another odd Cavalieri’s Green Arrow backup. Half of this one is dedicated to the evils of corporate journalism. Cavalieri just can’t make Ollie likable.

CREDITS

Boxing; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Don Newton; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy. Green Arrow, The Devil You Don’t Know; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Shawn McManus; inker, Sal Trapani; colorist, Jeanine Casey. Letterer, Ben Oda; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics 538 (May 1984)

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It’s a strange issue and not just because the feature’s incredibly boring. It’s a sting operation where Batman follows the new Catman–who is the new Catman because the old one sold out his cellmate and Batman and Gordon let this new guy become Catman–to make sure he gets safely to his hidden loot. Robin and Gordon follow Batman to clean up any further messes.

It probably could be good, but Moench focuses way too much on the annoying new Catman guy. Besides his grating thought clouds, the issue is mostly just awkward banter from Robin and Gordon.

It’s a goofy story; Moench’s trying way too hard to force two parters between this series and Batman.

But the wackiest thing is Cavalieri’s Green Arrow backup. It’s an ode to John Lennon. It’s not particularly good, but Cavalieri really tries hard to make it work. The weirdness helps it along.

CREDITS

Clothes Make the Cat(man); writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. Green Arrow, Three Years Ago Today; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Shawn McManus; inker, Pablo Marcos; colorist, Jeanine Casey; letterer, Albert De Guzman. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

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