Monday, March 18, 2013

BATMAN #495 - Late June 1993

Strange Deadfellows
:  Doug Moench (writer), Jim Aparo (penciler), Bob Wiacek (inker), Richard Starkings (letterer), Adrienne Roy (colorist)

Summary:  Batman attaches himself to Firefly as he uses his wings to fly away, but is unable to capture him.  Later, as Bruce Wayne, he attends a charitable function that’s interrupted by Poison Ivy.  Batman avoids breathing the spores that turn the attendants into Poison Ivy’s zombies, and soon changes into costume and defeats her.  Outside, Bane watches the events.  He discerns by looking at Bruce Wayne that he’s truly Batman.  Meanwhile, Azrael practices fighting crime solo, and Joker and Scarecrow trick a SWAT team into an explosive trap.

Irrelevant Continuity:  Batman has begun using his rope gun, a device made popular by the ‘90s animated series.

Review:  So, Poison Ivy makes her big move, and her plan consists of brainwashing a group of bodybuilders into becoming her “Deadfellows” and kidnapping Gotham’s elite from a fundraiser.  This would’ve been lame even in an eight-pager back in the Silver Age.  I would be curious to know if Ivy had been fleshed out as a character prior to the animated series, or if this is typical of any Poison Ivy story pre-Paul Dini.  Because if this was all you could expect from her, she certainly deserved her status as a C-lister.  And not only is Poison Ivy’s plan dull, but Moench doesn’t bother to come up with much of an ending to her fight with Batman.  After knocking off her goons, Batman calls her a witch and kicks her in the face.  The end.  On to the next throwaway from Arkham…

In terms of the “Knightfall” crossover, the major advancement this issue is Bane’s discovery of Batman’s secret identity.  And it’s just as lame as my summary of the issue might lead you to believe.  Bane merely looks at Bruce Wayne, and after only meeting Batman once in a dark warehouse, instantly recognizes his secret identity.  The original Vengeance of Bane one-shot went out of its way to justify Bane’s physical prowess and mental capabilities in order to sell him as a legitimate character and not a plot device.  Here, he’s all plot device.  I don’t want to use those two words that fans love to throw around when complaining about characters that are insanely competent and able to perform unimaginable feats, but…how else could you describe him?  To his credit, Chuck Dixon seems to have a firm grasp on Bane, but Moench’s stories are just coming across as if he's bored and going through the motions.


Anonymous said...

I believe that Poison Ivy was always a lame villain until after this point.
I was a fan of some later Poison Ivy stories, and wanted to find some earlier stories.
I found a Poison Ivy story from the original Moench run on Batman, and it was at this issue's level of bad also.

Anonymous said...

The best use of Poison Ivy per-Animated Series was probably in Suicide Squad. There, she was a nasty, amoral manipulator who had a habit of enslaving powerful men and milking them dry. She didn't get the depth given to Deadshot, Count Vertigo, Bronze Tiger, etc., but she was more interesting than in this comic.

- Mike Loughlin

Anonymous said...

Moench in general just seemed to lag behind Dixon I'd say; not to say he couldn't put out some good stories, just that Dixon's material was, on average, of better quality on the Batbooks.

Jeff said...

I think Moench's work got a lot better once Kelley Jones got on the title. It gets really bizarre and distinctive, in a good way. Their post-Knightfall run is one of my favorite Bat-Title runs ever.

Also, if you want a good read from Dixon and Nolan check out Joker: Devil's Advocate. Joker gets sentenced to death for some murders he didn't commit and Batman realizes that finding the real killer will save the Joker's life. It's very well done.

Anonymous said...

I forgot about Poison Ivy being in Suicide Squad!

I much prefer Moench to Dixon. I'm not a fan of Dixon, at all. I've come to appreciate Moench a lot more. He wasn't doing very good at this point on Batman, but his run from the 80s is good, and I loved what he did later with Jones.

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