Posts tagged ‘Gerry Conway’

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.

Detective 522 – Batman chases the Snowman, and Hi Tek toys with Green Arrow

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Gerry Conway, Irv Novick and Pablo Marcos bring back the Snowman, Klaus Krispin, in Detective 522 (Jan. 83).

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Krispin had appeared in an issue of Batman a couple of years earlier. Batman believed him dead, but Bruce sees a picture of him in the Himilayas, while visiting Vicki Vale at her new job as editor at Picture News.

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Batman is on his trail, but so are others.  And to Batman’s surprise, Krispin not only shows no interest in trying to kill him, he actually saves Batman’s life at one point.  Still, Batman keeps on his trail.

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It’s only in the last few pages that Krispin changes into his Snowman form, and battles Batman.  He is heading home to die, and will not let Batman stop that.

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A sad story, but good to see the character brought back, if only to be killed off.

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Some excellent art by Trevor Von Eeden on Joey Cavalieri’s Green Arrow story in this issue.

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Hi Tek has Green Arrow running rampant, but although the villain seems immensely powerful, he doesn’t seem to have any clearly defined goals.

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Tracing his signal back, Green Arrow discovers that Hi Tek is actually a 15 year old boy.  He’s more of a wanna be do gooder with a sense of fun than a villainous hacker, and Arrow immediately takes to the boy.

Detective 521 – Catwoman vs Vicki Vale, and Green Arrow begins

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Green Arrow’s series moves from World’s Finest to Detective with issue 521 (Dec. 82).  Along with Aquaman, Green Arrow had series in five of the earliest DC books: More Fun, Adventure, Detective, Action and World’s Finest.

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After her happy, good girl story last issue, Catwoman’s violent attack on Vicki Vale is not the way one would expect this story, by Gerry Conway, Irv Novick and Sal Trapani, to begin.  It turns out to be a dream, and leaves Selina Kyle shaky and upset.

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While the story largely follows Catwoman, Batman is busy tracking and apprehending a gang of hoods who prowl the subway system.

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Catwoman does break into Vicki’s apartment while she is sleeping, and demands that she leave Bruce Wayne to her, but does not physically attack her.

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Spying on them, Catwoman overhears Bruce tell Vicki that Selina is part of his past, and the two embrace, unaware of the angry woman watching.

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Green Arrow’s series brings writer Joey Cavalieri and artist Trevor Von Eeden along with it. Oliver Queen is, at this point in the strip, working as a columnist for George Taylor at Star City’s newspaper, the Daily Star.

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His computer gets taken over by a hacker, called Hi Tek, who demands Oliver break into a computer company.

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He does this as Green Arrow, because he never puts much work into his secret identity.  But Hi Tek shows up on the company’s computers, and uses them to attack him, and alert the police to his break in.

 

Detective 520 – Boss Thorne hires Dr 13, and a Catwoman solo story

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Gerry Conway and Don Newton art joined by inker Alfredo Alcala on Detective 520 (Nov. 82).

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Batman meets with Jim Gordon and Jason Bard, as well as Vickie Vale.  Her editor committed suicide, and they know he gave Vicki’s pictures to Boss Thorne.  They are trying to tie Thorne to Hamilton Hill.

Batman breaks into a prison, and breaks Deadshot out, to get the name of who hired him.  Floyd Lawton has no problems giving up Thorne’s name, but is surprised when Batman knocks him out and sends him back.

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Meanwhile, Boss Thorne is more concerned with the hauntings of Hugo Strange’s ghost than with the detectives, and has hired Dr. 13 to find out if the ghost is real.  Dr.13 was last seen a little over a year earlier, investigating the ghost of Wayne Manor.

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Dr. 13 goes to Greytowers, the phony hospital run by Hugo Strange, and his ghost materializes.  And Alfred dusts the Batcave.

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Catwoman’s solo tales had been running periodically in the back pages of Batman for the last few years.  This issue marks her only solo story in Detective, by Bob Rozakis and Gil Kane.

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Selina Kyle bumps into a former henchman of hers, and, sensing that he is lying to her about his plans, decides to follow him. Catwoman is on the good side of the law these days.

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It’s a soft story with a happy ending, as the guy has gone straight as well, and was hoping Catwoman would follow him and be his back up as he exposed some thieves.

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