Monthly Archives: September 2015

Batman 392 – a date with Batman and Catwoman


While I had totally lost interest in the Batman saga running the past couple of years in his books, I recall randomly picking up Batman 392 (Feb. 86) when it came out, and finding the Moench, Mandrake and Jan Duursema story fully entertaining.


Batman and Catwoman are having a romantic evening, which keeps getting interrupted by crimes they need to stop.  There is a nice touch, of Catwoman sacrificing the tails from her cat-o-nine-tails repeatedly as the story progresses.  Amidst all this, the two discuss their partnership.


It’s far more entertaining that what has come before, and plays nicely against the two subplots, one with Jason Todd being forced to stay home and study, and arguing with a patient Alfred about why he would be the better partner for Batman.


The other has Harvey Bullock arguing with Commissioner Gordon about why Catwoman should not be trusted, or her relationship with Batman condoned.


Gordon agrees with Bullock, just to shut him up and get him out of his office, and when Batman and Catwoman show up later, bringing pizza, Gordon tells them that Bullock’s arguments convinced him to give Catwoman his approval.

Simple, and effective, and fun.


Batman 391 – Batman vs Nocturna vs Catwoman vs Robin vs the Night Slayer


Moench and Mandrake bring the big Batman soap opera to a close in issue 391 (Jan. 86), which sees the Crisis on Infinite Earths causing massive storms and earthquakes, just because there wasn’t enough huge drama in this plotline already.


It almost feels redundant to chart out who is attacking who, when all the characters are busy trying to kill each other.


Even Catwoman, recovering from being hit by lightning, fights her way out of the hospital to be there for the grand finale.


Robin sees the Night Slayer stab Nocturna, and even for the reader it is kind of hard to tell if Nocturna really wants to die in this scene, or if it’s a ploy to draw the guy close enough for her to kill him.


Boom!  Crash!  Destruction!  Tormented love!


Nocturna and the Night Slayer are both apparently dead at the end of this tale, and it’s safe to say their pre-Crisis versions are.  A different Nocturna was introduced a couple of years ago in the Batwoman comic.

While Batman and Catwoman are now a couple, if only because he has lost all his other women – for the moment.

Batman 390 – Catwoman vs Nocturna


Took a day off, but the next comics to write about didn’t change.  Ah well.  Moench and Mandrake continue that Batman soap opera in issue 390 (Dec. 85).


Batman and Nocturna are making out, even though she admits being a thief.  The whole scene is so typical for this hero.  Oh, you’re so hot, I want you, but you are a criminal, and I must restrain myself.  kiss kiss kiss.


While Batman is swooning with love, Catwoman is busy tracking down the remaining False Face Society members, and discovers that Nocturna is now leading them.  She tries to follow her rival, but Nocturna has a balloon, which makes it very difficult.


And while Catwoman is fighting crime, what is Batman doing?  Hanging around outside Vicki Vale’s apartment and watching her make out with a different guy.


Catwoman does catch up with Nocturna, but Robin is already there to defend his “mother,” and the three get into a big fight.


Batman finally shows up, just in time to see Catwoman get hit by lightning.  This makes Batman realize that Catwoman is the one he truly loves, because of course.

The melodrama continues in the next issue of Detective.


Batman 389 – Nocturna returns


Batman 389 begins a multi-part story that loosely ties in with Crisis on Infinite Earths, as there happens to be red skies over Gotham.  Moench and Mandrake have both done far better work than this issue.


Nocturna is back, and heads to her old observatory, finding it occupied by squatters, who she quickly disposes of.


Clearly really into Vicki Vale’s new workout body, Bruce Wayne drops by to suggest resuming their relationship – but this time, Vicki wants nothing to do with him.


So he changes clothes and starts cruising the streets as Batman, until he finds Catwoman.  He picks her up, and brings her back to his cave, showing off a cat shaped stalagmite as a come on.  Such a classy guy, that Batman.


Meanwhile, Robin has learned that Nocturna is back, and has come to the observatory looking for her – but so has the Night Slayer.  There is also a subplot about a night watchman she has entranced, and the man’s worried wife, who meets with Harvey Bullock.

The story continues in the next issue of Detective.

Batman 388 – Captain Boomerang vs Mirror Master in Gotham


Moench and Mandrake kick off a really entertaining story, in which the Flash’s enemies Captain Boomerang and Mirror Master both come to Gotham City, now that their main opponent is gone, in Batman 388 (Oct. 85).


They run into each other as both come to rob a museum, and while they share the same motivation, neither is pleased to see the other.


Captain Boomerang claims that he also wants revenge against Batman, after his previous fight with him, detailed in these pages a few years earlier.  But when Batman shows up, both villains flee, with Boomerang destroying a dinosaur skeleton to delay Batman.


Batman shows Robin his files on Mirror Master and Captain Boomerang, which recaps the origins of both villains.  While the story makes it clear that this is Sam Scudder, later continuity would keep this tale but replace the deceased Flash villain with his successor, who was passing himself off as Scudder.


There’s a tedious scene as Julia discusses writing a book about Roman Sionis, wanting Bruce’s input, as a way to get close to him.  Bruce barely pays attention, his thoughts now on Vicki Vale since seeing her hot new bod in the previous issue.  But even he later refers to this scene as a soap opera.


Mirror Master comes off pretty impressively, using hypnotic lenses to take control of the remaining members of the False Face Society and send them after Boomerang, as well as making Harvey Bullock drive him around, as Harvey sees Mirror Master as Robin.  But Boomerang finds his rival’s room, and his trick mirrors.


The issue ends as Captain Boomerang turns the tables on Mirror Master, using his own mirrors to hypnotize him into acting for Boomerang.

The story concludes in the next issue of Detective.

Batman 387 – Batman vs Black Mask


Moench and Mandrake conclude the three-part Black Mask introductory story in Batman 387 (Sept. 85).


Following on the story from the previous issue of Detective, Batman decides to lure Black Mask to him, by throwing a big masked ball at Wayne Manor.  He and Alfred, as well as Harvey Bullock, are on the lookout for Roman Sionis, though Bruce get distracted by Vicki Vale, showing off her body.


When Roman make his move to kill Bruce Wayne, Robin swings into action, which gives Bruce the opportunity to get away and change into Batman.  They trail Sionis back to the family tomb, discovering Black Mask’s lair beneath it.


Mask sends his False Face Society after Batman, though many are suffering from the toxic paint, and even sets fire to his own tomb.  Robin is sure Sionis plans to kill himself, but Batman rescues the villain, but not before his mask gets seared to his face permanently.


The story ends as Circe tries to visit Roman in prison.  She was one of the first to suffer from the effects of the make-up, and her face was destroyed.  She wears a mask that duplicates her original appearance.  But what she feels towards Roman remains a mystery.

Crisis on Infinite Earths, and the creation of a new reality for Batman, shoved Black Mask onto the back burner, but the character would return in time.

Batman 386 – Black Mask debuts


Moench is joined by Tom Mandrake on Batman 386 (Aug. 85), which introduces Black Mask. As had been done with the Cavalier and Cat-Man, the introductory story for Black Mask is made up of dark parallels with the life of Bruce Wayne.


Still, it’s difficult not to find it weirdly funny that the tale opens with the birth of Roman Sionis, who immediately gets dropped on his head.


Roman grows up in a wealthy family, heir to a cosmetics industry. He has his own tramamtc animal experience as a child, but winds up ripping the poor animal to bits. As a young man, he begins a relationship with Circe, a super-model.


Their relationship get bonded by murder, as Roman kills his parents and burns down the house, while Circe provides him an unshakable alibi.


Roman decides that face painting is the way to go, and invests heavily in the new fad.  Or what he hopes will be a fad.  He is already obsessed with masks, and a big collector of them, and sees make-up as just a variation of this.  His company starts using an experimental face paint that will not come off in water, but it has devastating effects on the skin.  The company all but collapses, and gets bought out by Wayne Industries, but Roman is ousted from the board, and vows vengeance.


He vanishes from public view, opening a secret lair in the base of the family tomb.  Calling himself Black Mask, he recruits villains to join his False Face Society.  They use the deadly make-up, smearing it inside masks that they place on the sleeping faces of Roman’s enemies.

The story continue in the next issue of Detective.