Posts tagged ‘Croc’

Detective 566 – Know Your Foes, and a mystery villain in Green Arrow

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Doug Moench and Gene Colan provide a review of Batman’s major villains in this story, a lead-in to the big Batman 400.  The bulk of it reads much like a Who’s Who, but that series, and its variants, were in the future, and there really had not been anything like this.  It was much more appreciated at the time than such an issue would be now.

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After receiving a mysterious letter saying “Know your foes,” Batman and Robin review them.  All the big names are covered: Joker, Penguin, Two-Face, Riddler, Scarecrow, Ra’s Al Ghul and Talia.  Killer Moth makes the cut into the big names, as does Black Mask, the newest addition to the line-up.

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Curiously, this is the first time Poison Ivy makes it into a listing of Batman villains.  She’d been a foe of his since the 60s, but rarely in his own books.  Mad Hatter, Deadshot, Nocturna and the Night Slayer round out the ones who get full entries.

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There is a curious mix on the “B-list” page.  Cavalier and Tweedledee and Tweedledum are golden age holdovers, but Black Spider and Clayface III are supposedly dead.  Mr. Freeze, Cat-Man and Croc could easily have made the cut to major villains at this time.  And they included Crazy Quilt.  Really?

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Green Arrow and Black Canary’s series builds to its finale in this story by Joey Cavalieri and Jerome K Moore.

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Onyx is giving a long, roundabout explanation to her wanna-be boyfriend about why she has come back to Star City, but it gets interrupted by a bad guy smashing right through the wall.

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Who is the mystery attacker?  That gets saved for the finale.

Detective 526 – Jason Todd dons the costume

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Celebrating Batman’s 500th appearance, Detective 526 (May 1983) is a forgotten, but worthy, anniversary issue.  Crisis on Infinite Earths would remove this story from continuity, and the origin of Jason Todd radically changed, but this work by Gerry Conway, Don Newton and Alfredo Alcala stands on its own merit.

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The Joker calls together a mass assembly of Batman’s enemies.  Croc is out to kill Batman, but he’s a newbie, and not worthy of the honour, the Joker insists.  So he lays out a plan that will give them all chances of killing Batman that night.

The line-up includes the regulars: Penguin, Riddler, Two-Face, and Scarecrow.  Cat-Man, Killer Moth, Mr. Freeze, the Mad Hatter, and Matt Hagen as Clayface had all appeared within the last few years.  The Cavalier had not been seen since an issue of Batman Family in the late 70s.  Tweedledum and Tweedledee had not been seen since the 1940s!  Technically, this is the first appearance of the Earth-1 versions of the characters, but with Crisis looming that scarcely matters.

Some of the newer villains are included as well: Black Spider, Captain Stingaree and the Spook.  Talia is there, without her father being involved in the story, which is rare.

The Gentleman Ghost is a Hawkman villain, but had fought Batman twice in his own book.  This is the only time he appears in a line-up of Batman villains.

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Catwoman watches, but takes no part in the meeting.  Talia also has no interest in killing Batman, but has to fight her way out.

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Both Catwoman and Talia head to the Batcave to warn Batman of the plans against him, but get involved in a cat fight of their own.

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Meanwhile, things aren’t going so well for Dick Grayson.  His great plan to use the Todds against Croc simply put them into his hands, and he has Jason driven to Wayne Manor to keep him safe.

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Barbara accompanies her father as Commissioner Gordon checks out the abandoned theatre where the villains met, and finds evidence pointing to a gathering of their enemies.

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Barbara goes to find Dick, and they suit up as Batgirl and Robin and head out to fight the villains, as Batman does the same, with Talia and Catwoman as back-up.  No one is at home, so Jason is left to explore Wayne Manor, and guess where he winds up?

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The Spook manages to get the drop on Talia, if only for a moment.  But with so many fighting against them, the two women and Batman get taken.

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Robin is the one to find the remains of the Todds, fed to his namesakes by Croc.

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Jason, unawares, has found an alternate Robin costume in the cave, and suited up.  He heads out to join the rest of the heroes.

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Batgirl and Robin fight well together. There is no hint of romance, as there had been in their Batman Family team-ups.  Robin is in a budding romance with Starfire in the pages of New Teen Titans, but their ease with each other reminds one of the bond between them, the best duo of Batman’s supporting cast.

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Jason happens upon  a group of the villains, which gives him the information he needs to find out where everyone else is.

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Finally the big climax, as the Joker gloats over his captured foes.

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Croc had been working behind the scenes with the Joker, using all the other villains to wear Batman down.  He makes his move, but Batman manages to duck at the right time, and Croc takes down the Joker.

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Jason Todd arrives just as Batman has beaten Croc into submission, and delivers the final blow.  Only afterwards does he discover his parents bodies.

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The epilogue sees Bruce sending Catwoman and Talia off together in a car.  Where is he sending them?  Why did he stick these two women in the same car together?  How far did they get before their fight forced the car off the road and into a ditch?

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The issue ends with Bruce and Jason Todd, who is looking relatively ok for a boy whose parents were horribly murdered the night before.  But he is to be the new Robin, and there is a sense of hope.

Which is all kind of weird now, because Jason Todd was given such a different origin, and made such a different character, in the post-Crisis reality.

But for a couple of years, this was the origin of Jason Todd, Robin.

Detective 525 – round 2 for Batman and Croc, and Green Arrow smokes out Machiavelli

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Gerry Conway, Dan Jurgens and Dick Giordano combine on Detective 525 (April 1983), as Croc and Batman continue their war.

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Bruce and Vicki find time in their schedules for a date, and all goes well until Bruce tells Vicki how great it is that she is not demanding or dependent, like Selina was, and how he can’t stop thinking about her.  Vicki acts about as well as any woman would in that situation, barking and Bruce and storming off.

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Robin is back at the circus with the Todds, where he has the brilliant notion to enlist Joseph and Trina Todd in Batman’s battle with Croc.  Because two circus trapeze artists are likely to make a big difference.  Jason Todd is totally cool with it as well. Perhaps someone told him this was part of his origin story.

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Batman tracks Croc down into the sewers, where they fight.  Croc beats Batman for the second time.

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This storyline has been moving back and forth between Batman and Detective, but comes to a conclusion in the next issue of this book.

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Cavalieri, Novick and Randall conclude Green Arrow’s battle against Machiavelli in this story.

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It’s an abrupt and odd finale.  As Machiavelli continues to convince the people of the wonders of openly being selfish and criminal, a fire breaks out in the building.

Now, in most cases that leads people into a panic, trampling each other to get out.  But Green Arrow tells everyone to be calm and work together, and they do.  And in doing so, realize the benefits of community, and turn against Machiavelli.

Of, and there was no fire, just a smoke arrow.

I really wish they had brought this character back. There seems to have been a lot more they could have done with him, particularly considering how political Green Arrow is.

Detective 524 – Batman vs the Squid, and Green Arrow vs Machiavelli

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Croc’s rise continues with Detective 524 (March 1983)  by Gerry Conway, with art by Newton and Giordano.

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Croc is still working for the Squid when this story begins.  And at the opening of the story, the Squid looks to be in a good position, having thrown Batman into a tank of his namesakes.

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But Croc and the Squid do not see eye to eye.  Croc’s hat comes off, and this is the first time we see his face.  Croc walks out, and the Squid vows vengeance on him.

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Meanwhile, back at Wayne Manor, a party is in progress, although the guests (expecially Vicki Vale) are still waiting for Bruce.  Dick Grayson brings along the Todd family, circus performers he met recently in the pages of Batman.  Joseph and Trina Todd are the parents of young Jason, and the whole family are aerialists, so it’s easy to see why Dick has bonded with them.  Barbara Gordon is there as well, along with her father, recently re-instated, so he’s back to being Commissioner Gordon.

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Batman escapes from the squid tank, and makes it back to the mansion.  Alfred is tending his wounds, but no one thinks to close the door or separate themselves from the rest of the party, so Trina Todd just comes walking right into the room, seeing the Batman costume and everything.

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Fixed up, Batman resumes his attack on the Squid.

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But it’s Croc who wins, shooting the Squid with a sniper rifle, just as the Squid was about to shoot Batman.

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Green Arrow squares off against the Executrix in this story by Cavalieri, Novick and Randall.

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Machiavelli continues to promote his unusual brand of libertarianism, but finds people willing to listen, and begins to make a splash in Star City politics.

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He is on the verge of being swept into office as mayor by the time Green Arrow defeats Executrix and makes it back to him.

 

Detective 523 – Batman vs Solomon Grundy, and Machiavelli comes to Star City

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Detective 523 (Feb. 83) sees Batman pitted against Solomon Grundy, in a story by Gerry Conway, with art by Gene Colan and Tony deZuniga.

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The story is part of the rise of Croc, who makes a shadowy debut in this tale.  We see his green hand in one panel, above, but otherwise he is in a trenchcoat and large hat.  His gang has adopted Grundy, but Croc feels that this will not bode well for them, and takes off.

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The story makes a point of tying this Grundy to the ones created in DC Comics Presents, and it shows him as childlike to the extreme, when not angered.

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That doesn’t make this Grundy any less deadly when angered.  As Croc thought, his destructive nature brings Batman down on the entire gang.

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Irv Novick and Ron Randall take over the art on Joey Cavalieri’s Green Arrow story in this issue. It opens with Arrow and Hi Tek (we learn that his first name is really Rich), as the boy becomes Oliver’s computer brain.

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Green Arrow goes into action when a demonstration turns violent, but follows the troublemakers, and finds them working with the big wigs, supposedly on the other side.

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And indeed, the riot was part of a plan by the elites of Star City to extend their control, both legal and illegal. Machiavelli is introduced.  I do like the idea for this character, a brilliant and ruthless manipulator, but its a shame they had him dress Renaissance.

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Certainly Machiavelli has no trouble with hiring people who are not in historical garb, as his muscle is a lycra-clad Executrix.

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