Sunday, April 3, 2016

Micro-Reviews - TALES OF THE BATMAN: DON NEWTON



More from the late ‘70s/very early ‘80s era of BATMAN, one I’ve previously known little about.  Thankfully, someone in DC’s reprint department must be a fan of the post-Neal Adams Batman days.
BATMAN #305, written by Bob Rozakis, whose work I’m totally unfamiliar with.  (Sorry 'MAZING MAN fans.)
Rozakis sets up an intriguing mystery -- a dead woman has been found with a ring that labels her “Mrs. Batman”  --  which leads to a shady man invading Wayne Manor, boasting he killed the woman and knows Bruce’s ID.
What a cliffhanger! The book then moves on to…a totally unrelated story from DETECTIVE COMICS.
I can appreciate reprinting issues in publication order, but would it be so hard to at least print the serialized stories without interruption?
Also, this story is only a few pages long, so I’m assuming BATMAN was either a collection of short stories in this era  -- or it had a main story with a backup each issue.
Also surprised to discover DETECTIVE COMICS was only on a bimonthly schedule in these days.


DETECTIVE COMICS #480 - Not much here, although the villain’s design possibly inspired Miller’s mutants design in DKR.

BATMAN #306 - The “Mrs. Batman” mystery concludes…and it makes no sense at all.
It’s a bizarre blend of Silver Age high concept with Bronze Age “realism.”
The killer has framed Batman to keep him busy (presumably), while he unleashes a virus in Gotham’s ghetto.
The story doesn’t exploit the secret ID angle at all, nor do we learn who “Mrs. Batman” was supposed to be.
It reads as if Rozakis started one story & was abruptly told to change it into something else.
“Eh, the kids like ghettos and serial killers now, Bob. Do somethin’ with that.”


DETECTIVE COMICS #483 - The inspiration (maybe?) for the “Appointment in Crime Alley” episode of the cartoon.
Gerry Conway mentioned O’Neil’s Crime Alley stories on the Batman:TAS podcast.
He was inspired by O’Neil’s portrayal of average Crime Alley residents, living in poverty.
The citizens of Crime Alley are pretty dense as it turns out. They know Batman visits every year on the same day, which just so happens to be the day the Waynes were murdered, but no one, even Leslie Tompkins, makes the connection.
The villain of the piece turns out to be Maxie Zeus, which is certainly an odd fit for a Crime Alley story.
I much prefer the cartoon episode, which is maybe a bit slow, but has a consistent mood and nice heart to it.
Not to take anything away from O’Neil’s work, though.
He developed the template for Crime Alley stories and others have found ways to put their own touches on them.


DETECTIVE COMICS #484 - The debut of Maxie Zeus (yay?)
Batman:TAS producers clearly loved this era of the comics.

I know that Timm is a massive ‘70s Marvel fan, and BATMAN was his only regular DC indulgence.
One moment this issue that’d never make into animation -- Batman has to kill three dogs!
Hopefully, he doesn’t take it as hard as Rorschach did. Although that might explain “ninja psycho” Batman.


DETECTIVE COMICS #485 - An early League of Assassins story.
Hey, O’Neil has brought Batwoman back…and killed her off in three pages.
A very early example of reviving an obscure character and then icing them.
Not that Kathy Keane was ever a great representative of a female hero, but her death here is just cheap.
Odd to see an early non-Neal Adams version of Ra’s Al Ghul. Newton draws him as an old man.
Also, worth noting that Ra’s isn’t nearly as omnipotent in this early stories; not even the head of the League of Assassins.
Best moment of the issue - the revelation that Batman memorizes EVERY license plate he encounters.


BRAVE & THE BOLD #153 
Tonally, this is no match at all for the Denny O’Neil stories…plus, DC clearly didn’t have good copies of the original artwork to scan.
I’m all for creator-specific trades, but I’m amazed at some of the stuff that makes it into the reprints now.
Anyway, B&B is clearly still in the Silver Age, in contrast to O’Neil’s work. Batman even calls Red Tornado “Reddy.”
Red Tornado swears he won’t cry at the story’s climax, because an android crying would just be ridiculous.

Shots fired.

4 comments:

wwk5d said...

Also worth noting, Batman gets his ass kicked - twice - by the Bronze Tiger. I wonder how Grant Morrison and people who prefer his version of Batman view that? lol

G. Kendall said...

And, somehow, Batman's able to defeat Bronze Tiger fairly easily when O'Neil pens their rematch in a few issues. I wonder if, even back then, someone had second thoughts.

Steven said...

The first comic I ever owned was Detective Comics 494, which I believe is reprinted here. It's a Crime Doctor story. I still have it, but it's in barely readable shape. My girlfriend bought me a NM copy for Christmas. I seem to recall Batman does a lot of wise-cracking Batman almost like he's Spider-Man or something. Is that common in these stories?

G. Kendall said...

Steven,
I wouldn't say that it's too common, but it does happen in a few stories. Batman's certainly more talkative than he'll become by the late '80s.