Posts tagged ‘Robin’

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 561 – Jason Todd, drugs and romance, and Green Arrow and Black Canary each encounter problems

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Detective 651 (April 1986) is a fairly blatant anti-drug story, but Moench and Colan manage to pull off a tale that has its own merits.

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Jason Todd is the star of this story, as it chronicles his interest in a girl at school named Rena.

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She wants to get Jason to get high with her after school.  She never has, but the “whole gang is doing it.”  But the story keeps it about the kids themselves, and Jason gets Rena fascinated with stories of his circus days.

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With Batman’s help he tracks the source of the drugs, as Rena had told him who was bringing them to school.  And as Robin he busts the big guys, and terrifies the student.

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And as Jason Todd, he gets the girl.  Dick Grayson never pulled off anything this smooth.

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Cavalieri and Moore do an excellent job balancing the roles of Black Canary and Green Arrow throughout this storyline.

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Black Canary is cracking down on some drug smugglers down at the docks, and is doing pretty well until Steelclaw shows up and knocks her out.

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Green Arrow and Champion cross paths at a collapsing construction site. Champion saves an experimental antenna while Green Arrow saves humans, and he is not pleased about that.

Detective 560 – Robin and Catwoman answer the call, and Green Arrow and Black Canary eat lunch

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A very moody cover for Detective 660 (March 1986), and I was expecting a Batman solo story, but Moench and Colan go a different way.

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Batman does, indeed, go off to sit by himself in a cave and brood, reflect on his origin and training, and look all solemn, sad and spooky. But he sets things up with Harvey Bullock to make Catwoman a true member of his team.

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It’s also to force Robin to have to work with Catwoman, which Jason Todd is reluctant to do, feeling that he is betraying Nocturna.  But they track down some cop killing Savage Skulls, and bond.

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The only problem is that Catwoman has been softened to such an open and accepting person that it hardly feels like it’s really her.

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Black Canary shares the billing with Green Arrow on this excellent story lead off by Cavalieri and Moore.  The phrase, “does that make me a bad guy?” ends three different scenes in the tale, playing differently each time.

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We meet Champion, who uses his powerful costume to help those who can pay for his services.  He compares himself to any other trained professional, arguing that he is not required to do heroics for free.

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Dinah argues with Oliver over her idea to go undercover and fight crime from the inside, the way her mother had originally.  An odd way to go about breaking out of her mother’s shadow, but whatever.  The landlord comes by to raise the rent, and basic economics are the root of the second time the question is asked.

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And finally, Steelclaw introduced, a powerful villain being hired by the mob, who turns the tables on them and demands a cut of the action.  He is definitely a bad guy.

Detective 558 – Nocturna’s deadly spell, and Green Arrow gets dumped on by an angry parent

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The red rains buffet Gotham in Detective 558 (Jan. 86), as the Crisis stories come to a close, and a number of people hunt for Nocturna.

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Batman brings the Night Slayer’s reign of terror to a close, finally.

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But Moench and Colan spend far more of this story on the night watchman seduced away from his wife by Nocturna, who roams the city searching for her, as does Robin.  Harvey Bullock is also on the hunt, though the watchman himself is Harvey’s goal, after meeting his tormented wife.

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Seeing Nocturna’s damaged balloon hanging from the spire of Gotham’s version of the Chrysler building, he climbs to the top and sends it flying away.  Although Batman and Robin try to save him, he falls and disappears into the red rains, and Bullock is left to try to explain things to the man’s wife.

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The story ends with Batman being called by Commissioner Gordon about the Joker’s escape from Arkham, which leads Batman into the pages of Crisis on Infinite Earths 2.  But not before he and Catwoman profess their love again.

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Dean Traven and Trevor Von Eeden helm this entertaining little story.

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Green Arrow hears the words of a wounded man just before he passes out, and, interpreting them as a clue, seeks out those who attacked him.

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By far the best page of the story is a bit of a digression.  Olive spills a child’s ice cream, and when he tries to pay for it, is attacked by the boy’s mother as a molestor.  The page almost feels like Giffen, and the Ambush Bug reference makes me certain that was the intent.

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The ending brings a laugh as well.  Green Arrow visits in the man in the hospital, explaining his mistaken interpretation of his words, and how he really found the attacker, all the while devouring the man’s candy.

 

Detective 557 – Batman sits in a hospital room, and Green Arrow helps defend the temple

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Detective 557 (Dec. 85) follows the big battle between Catwoman and Nocturna, in a story by Moench and Colan.

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And though Nocturna and the Night Slayer are still on the loose, Batman spends this story sitting by Selina’s bedside in the hospital.

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Robin returns to the cave, and in a slight allusion to the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Justice League try to contact Batman.  The Martian Manhunter, Elongated Man and Zatanna cameo.

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The Night Slayer is left pretty much free to keep killing the former members of Nocturna’s gang, and still aims to kill Nocturna herself.  Batman and Catwoman are too busy professing their love for each other to care.

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Cavalieri, Moore and Patterson conclude Green Arrow’s team-up with Onyx in this issue.

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Although I really love the art on this story, the tale itself just doesn’t warrant the length, to me.  But there are great scenes along the way, as Arrow and Onyx defend the temple.

 

Detective 556 – Nocturna makes her move, and Green Arrow teams with Onyx

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The cover for Detective 556 (Nov. 85) just incensed me when it came out. What was Batman doing killing Nocturna?  It’s Catwoman and Talia that he loves!

But the story, by Moench and Colan, did not anger me.  Rather, I was excited, for although the Crisis on Infinite Earths is not mentioned, the red rains that are falling clearly place this tale during that mini-series.  In fact, this and the next two issues of Detective must all take place during the first issue of Crisis.

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With Black Mask out of the way, but his men still around, Nocturna makes her play to become their new leader, and control Gotham’s criminal element.  Bullock, meanwhile, shows he has the proper observational skills to be a cop, as he figures out that the current Robin is not the original one.  Although his guess at him being Nocturna’s son misses the bulls-eye.

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With Robin and the gangs under her spell, she concludes the story by going after Batman, and he doesn’t seem to have any resistance left.

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Green Arrow joins Onyx, as she brings him back to the retreat where she was trained, in this story by Joey Cavalieri, Jerome K Moore and Bruce Patterson.

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Onyx was a good character to introduce.  A strong female, a capable fighter.  It just makes you wonder why Black Canary wasn’t treated as well in the same strip.

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It turns out Oliver knows the place well.  It was the same place he went to after accidentally killing a child, a few years back. So technically, Connor Hawke could be in this story, if I can spot any young kids with mixed race skin and blond hair.

Detective 551 – Calendar Man aims to kill Robin, and Green Arrow gets rounded up

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Moench and Broederick contribute the middle chapter to a very good Calendar Man story in Detective 551 (June 1985).

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The Calendar Man is made a far more serious villain in this story than he had been in either of his previous ones. He has been hired, through the Monitor, to kill Robin, but is making that the climax of a series of holiday-themed crimes.

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Batman plays a nice, interactive game with Alfred and Jason, working with them to figure out what the holidays might be that Calendar Man is going to base his crimes on, but he refuses to let Jason accompany him as Robin when they go out, insisting it is simply too dangerous.

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As always, Calendar Man alters his costume and weaponry to match his crime, leaving Batman always unprepared for what the villain will throw at him.

The story concludes in the following issue of Batman.

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No costume, but at least Dinah Lance gets a supporting role in this Green Arrow story by Cavalieri, Moore and Patterson.

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The story deals withe plight of illegal immigrants from Mexico, which seems a timeless issue in the US.  They are being hidden in the basement of a church in this story, and Oliver Queen goes to help, and write about, them.  But as it turns out, that just means he gets rounded up with the rest of them when the border police come.

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Meanwhile, Onyx wonders if she can trust the guy who has been bringing her food, and hiding her and keeping her safe.  This woman has issues.

 

Detective 547 – Batman and Night Slayer trade costumes, and Onyx arrives in Star City

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Ok, first off, nothing even remotely like the image on the cover occurs in Detective 547 (Feb. 85).  Doug Moench, Pat Broederick and Klaus Janson tell a story that is very much just another chapter in Batman’s soap opera life.

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Julia has warmed up enough to Alfred now that she tells him she is changing her last name to Pennyworth.

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Nocturna and Robin are out on patrol together, and run into the Night Slayer, wearing Batman’s outfit.  Batman is running around in the Night Slayer costume.  That all happened in the pages of Batman.  Overall, it seems that, during this period, most things begin, end, or happen, in the pages of Batman, as Detective stories carry the plot from one event to another.

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Cavalieri, Moore and Patterson continue their story about Vengeance, the man who looks and acts just like Vigilante, in this Green Arrow story.

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Onyx arrives in Star City, and shows herself capable of surviving the streets of the big city.

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The “crime” that Vengeance is out to avenge deals with events back from the VietNam War, and a messed up, guilt-ridden vet is the target.  So we definitely side with Green Arrow.

Detective 542 – Jason gets taken, and Green Arrow cons a killer

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The Batman titles really become pure soap opera at this time.  Villains become secondary to Bruce Wayne’s relationships, and his difficulties in getting guardianship of Jason.

The stories are not awful, it’s still Moench and Colan, but it feels a bit more like Dallas than Batman.

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Harvey Bullock accompanies the woman from child welfare, as she comes to take Jason away from Bruce.  I don’t know if they were expecting Bruce to pull out a gun or something, bringing Bullock seems excessive, especially as all Jason does is cry.

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Bruce calls a meeting of the Wayne Foundation board – which means Lucius Fox and some unnamed others – and gives them a big speech about how getting Jason Todd back must be the main focus of the company.  They all look stunned, as they well might.

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Jason, in an orphanage, sees the Bat-signal, and goes into action as Robin.  He catches up with Harvey Bullock, just in time to save him from a sniper.  Hamilton Hill, upset that Bullock became friends with Gordon rather than driving him out of the force, has hired a hit man to get rid of Harvey.

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Batman is late to join the party, but he captures the sniper.  Jason tells him that they might split up him and Bruce, but no one can break up Batman and Robin.

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Joey Cavalieri and Shawn McManus bring the Death Dealer story to a clever resolution in this issue.

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Oliver gets the dj to start playing a pre-recorded show of his, and that makes the Death Dealer think that they put out the fire.  He returns to the studio, and when he opens it to enter, sees Green Arrow, who he believes managed to enter somehow.  Thanks to the recording, and the Dealer’s confusion, his surprise at seeing Green Arrow,and not connecting him to Oliver Queen, is actually plausible.

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The explanation to the events is a bit lame though.  The dj in the witness protection program happened to work at a station run by ANOTHER guy in the witness protection program, who blamed the dj for him having to go through that.  And though the one recognized the other, neither was, apparently, being monitored in any way at all, to prevent them coming into contact.

Detective 540 – the Scarecrow plays with Robin

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Moench and Colan once again finish off a 2-part tale begun in Batman.  Detective 540 (July 1983) stars the Scarecrow, who has developed a device that radiates fear.

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Batman and Robin are lured into a house of horrors the Scarecrow has created, where the effects they feel are multiplied by the device.

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It’s an ok Scarecrow story.  Kind of overly tech-y for the character, I thought.  Gene Colan on the Scarecrow should be a treat, and it had its moments, but failed to score.

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