Monday, September 27, 2021

Batman in the 1980s Issue 37: January 1983

The Dark Knight in the 1980s
by Jack Seabrook &
Peter Enfantino

Ed Hannigan & Dick Giordano

Batman #355

"Never Scratch a Cat"
Story by Gerry Conway
Art by Don Newton & Alfredo Alcala

Bruce Wayne is out for an evening drive with Vickie Vale along the shore when along comes Catwoman in the Catmobile to run Bruce's car off the road. Catwoman jumps in the water to rescue Bruce but he thinks she's trying to do him in. While Vickie recovers from a concussion in the hospital, Bruce chats with Jim Gordon and Jason Bard and learns that Boss Thorne has been indicted for the murder of Police Commissioner Pauling and the mayor wants to see Gordon.

Bruce goes home and dons his Batsuit before heading to Selina Kyle's place, where he encounters her angry panther. Bat bests cat in a brief fight but Selina is nowhere to be found. Mayor Hamilton Hill gives Commissioner Gordon his job back and complains that the people of Gotham City want to hold a recall election to get rid of the mayor.

Batman tracks Catwoman to an old warehouse, where she attacks him and confesses her jealousy of Vickie Vale. She gets the upper paw hand but stops herself before killing the man she loves. 

Peter: This is a light and breezy and, most important of all, fun installment. Yep, there's still some room for improvement (Don and Al together can't draw a human face to save their lives) and I don't know about you, but I've had it up to here with the monthly round of "Bruce, let me help you!" and "No, Dick, this is too dangerous for you!" but having Catwoman back to her old ways and the exit of those crappy subplots has me smiling and whistling a happy tune.

What does that climax mean, exactly? Is Bats going to turn Cats over to the cops? She did, after all, attempt to kill him and Vicki Vale. Or will he release her for a rematch at a later date? Also, just let me say that my complaints about the art do not extend to the boys' depiction of the costumed characters. Those are aces. 

Jack: I agree. Newton and Alcala do a fine job drawing Batman and Catwoman. The subplots are still here, just not as intrusive, perhaps because Conway has 23 pages to work with. There's room for the main story and a few side trips involving Gordon, Bard, Hill, and so on. I like the Catmobile (which Batman refers to as the Catillac) and its cat-eye headlights. 


Detective Comics #522

"Snow Blind"
Story by Gerry Conway
Art by Irv Novick & Pablo Marcos

While waiting for Vicki Vale to do her editorial thing, Bruce Wayne thumbs through the latest issue of Picture News Magazine and happens upon a startling sight: a photo of mutant Klaus Kristin (whom Bats battled way back in Batman #337) on Mt. Kalais, Kristin is a man he thought had died in a fall from a snowy Switzerland peak.

Realizing he has to bring Kristin back to Gotham to stand trial for his crimes, Batman gasses up the Batplane, accepts some cold pastrami sandwiches from Alfred, rudely ignores Dick's plea to accompany him on the trip, and hops in the plane for China. Once he lands, the Dark Knight hires a guide to take him up Mt. Kalais and search for Kristin. They quickly discover the mutant living in a temple at the base of the mountain. Kristin sees his enemy and hightails it but Batman catches up to him. The Caped Crusader engages in fisticuffs with the outlaw and is knocked unconscious. Kristin saves Batman from drowning, which perplexes our hero. Kristin is shot and seriously wounded by the mountain guide.

Kristin hoofs it up the mountain, with Batman and his guide in hot pursuit. Unexpectedly, it becomes apparent to the Dark Knight that there are actually two snowmen atop Mt. Kalais and, once they catch up to Kristin, he learns that the bigger Yeti is the mutant's father! Seeing that the man is dying from blood loss, our hero gives Kristin the choice of going back to Gotham and getting medical help but also standing trial, or dying here with his Pop. Kristin chooses the latter.

Peter: This is a very confusing one-and-done but, putting that aside, it's just not that well told. I'm not sure what Batman's goal was here. If it was bringing a criminal to justice no matter what the cost, he failed miserably. The Yeti brings to my mind Jack's comments last time out about the plethora of disposable villains we're having to deal with in this run. You have to laugh when Gerry throws in the obligatory "No, Robin, this is a dangerous mission and I must go alone" scene and then has his hero comment on how lame these debates are. Poor Robin is itching to get some playtime.

Jack: I enjoyed this story more than I thought I would when I saw the penciller and the villain. Marcos smooths Novick's rough edges. In both this month's Batman and Detective Comics there are mentions of the Teen Titans, probably because the book was red hot at the time.

"Automatic Pirate!"
Story by Joey Cavalieri
Art by Trevor Von Eeden

Green Arrow tracks the villainous Hi-Tek to a junior high school where he discovers, to his amazement, that the cyber-robber is actually a brilliant fourteen year-old student. 

Peter: I gotta say the build-up was a snooze (yet another whoopdie-doo villain) but the pay-off was dynamite. Cavalieri peppers his script with some very smart dialogue (when the Arrow takes a dig at Hi-Tek's low ambitions as a criminal, the baddie replies: "'Oh, didn't you hear? They cut government grants to super-villains! I need all the spare parts I can get!'") and the last few panels, where the kid mocks Green Arrow's primitive weapons, is a laugh-out-loud hoot. Green Arrow has never been a superhero I paid much attention to, but if Cavalieri and Von Eeden can keep the tone light and humorous, I'm all in.

Jack: In addition to the nice art by von Eeden, I also liked the surprising ending. I'm looking forward to seeing if Green Arrow really does team up with the teen wunderkind.

The Brave and the Bold #194

"Trade Heroes--and Win!"
Story by Mike W. Barr
Art by Carmine Infantino & Sal Trapani

Second-rate villains Dr. Double X and the Rainbow Raider accept an invitation from Professor Andrea Wye to her self-help seminar on an island in the West Indies, where she teaches them to power of positive thinking and urges them to "Trade Heroes--and Win!" They repeat "'I believe in me'" and head off to battle each other's nemeses.

First, Dr. Double X encounters the Flash at the dedication ceremony for a new generator that ends up allowing both parts of the villain to challenge the speedster. They seem to succeed in the mission to defeat the fastest man alive.

Next, the Rainbow Raider goes on a spree of robberies and battles the Batman, seeming to best him by encasing him in a giant crystal.

The villains transport the heroes to Dr. Wye's island so she can pry their secrets out of them. However, Flash and Batman quickly escape and defeat the villains, though Dr. Wye manages to get away.

Peter, is it getting warm in here?
Peter: A perfectly silly, perfectly disposable DC superhero strip, comparable to a Marvel What If? funny book. The art immediately sends you back to the 1960s, neither great nor horrible. I prefer Infantino without a lot of inks and Trapani isn't a great inker based on the evidence provided. The superheroes look just fine but the humans (in particular, Bruce and Gordon on pages two and three) could've benefited from a second pass. 

Jack: Infantino in the '80s is not my favorite, but Trapani makes his work look much better than it ever did over at Marvel on, for example, Star Wars. I enjoyed this silly story, which hearkens back to the straightforward storytelling style of the '60s, with a prologue and three chapters. Will we see the lovely Dr. Wye again? I certainly hope so!

Next Week...
Well, um, we're gonna level with you.
Not a lot of exciting stuff next week.
But that Vampi back cover is pretty cool!

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