Tag Archives: Alfred

Batman 400 – everyone vs Batman

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Although it was not promoted as such, Batman 400 (Oct. 86) really was the grand finale to the adventures of the Batman of Earth-1, a double sized special issue, written by Doug Moench, with a vast artistic line-up: John Byrne, Steve Lightle, Bruce Patterson, George Perez, Paris Cullins, Larrry Mahlstedt, Arthur Adams, Terry Austin, Thomas Sutton, Ricardo Villagran, Steve Leialoha, Joe Kubert, Ken Steacy, Rick Leonardi, Karl Kesel and Brian Bolland.  As one might guess, each artist only does a few pages of this story.

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The tale bears a close resemblance, in its opening, to the later story Knightfall, as both Arkham Asylum an the main prison in Gotham City get blasted open, freeing the inmates.

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They find their costumes all conveniently hanging on trees, and this allows for a number of villains to make small appearances, not joining in on the major story. So this sequences marks the final appearances of, for example, Dr. Double X and Mirage, whose outfits can be spotted.

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While some villains join with the Joker is following the grand plan of their benefactor to take out Batman, others, such as Croc, want no part of this, and simply take their freedom.

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Then there are a number of scenes that see Batman’s various friends and allies captured by the villains – Harvey Bullock, Commissioner Gordon, Vicki Vale all get attacked, and poor Julia Pennyworth has to suffer her second shower scene attack, this time by the Scarecrow.

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Ra’s Al Ghul is the mastermind, and openly declares himself such to Batman.  Once again his goal is to recruit the hero, and even offers to help eliminate all the villains that he has just freed.  It’s really a much better Ra’s Al Ghul plot than any since his original big storyline.

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While Batman and Robin try to take the various villains down, they are clearly out numbered, and have little choice but to play along wit the larger game.   They take out Black Spider and Cat-Man, but have to allow the Riddler, Scarecrow and Poison Ivy to go free, as long as they are holding the hostages.  Catwoman, no longer Batman’s partner, gets involved, and decides to follow the departing villains.

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The Joker leads his crew, which includes the Penguin, Cavalier, Killer Moth, Deadshot and Mad Hatter, in taking over the headquarters of the police, to Commissioner Gordon’s dismay.

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Poison Ivy is holding Harvey Bullock, and having a grand time of her own, toying with him.  Catwoman does track her down, but fails to stop her.

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Kubert’s pages deserve mention, even though they do not really advance the story much.  But they look sooo good.

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Talia joins forces with Batman and Robin to help scupper her father’s plans.  Batman has so much on his plate that he has little time for the Joker or his games.  Even still, the Joker is one of the few villains in the story who really gets much of a chance to show his stuff.  most get overwhelmed by the crowd scenes.

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In the end, of course, it comes down to a battle between Batman and Ra’s Al Ghul, who has taken a dip in a Lazarus Pit without dying first, to super-charge himself.  Bolland’s art makes the most of this scene, although it plays out in the standard fashion, with Talia betraying her father, who appears to die at the end.

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But it’s really the final sequence that makes this story, as Batman brings all his friends and allies – Robin, Catwoman, Alfred, Julia Pennyworth, Vicki Vale, Commissioner Gordon and Harvey Bullock, to the Batcave.  The reason given is the tenth anniversary of Batman being Batman, but the stalactite that falls and pierces the cake is a stark reminder that Bruce Wayne is not Batman for the fun of it.

A great “last” issue.

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Batman Annual 10 – the final attack of Hugo Strange

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Batman Annual 10, by Moench, Denys Cowan and Alfredo Alacala, is a wonderful final story of the Earth-1 Batman, irrevocably marred by the cover, which reveals that the mystery villain is Hugo Strange.

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As the story begins, Wayne Enterprises finds itself in dire financial straights, which is being reported on by Vicki Vale and Julia Pennyworth.  Lucius Fox offers to suspend his mayoral campaign (a barely developed subplot) in order to help Bruce Wayne, but Bruce refuses.

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A mystery villain makes a shocking return from the dead – so shocking that it gives Alfred a heart attack.  See how much more interesting this would be had we not known it was Hugo Strange?  At  least Batman and Robin didn’t get to see the cover, and remain puzzled.

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Because Bruce is in danger of losing all his money, the Child Welfare Bureau comes back into the picture, threatening to take away Jason Todd.

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An then we get to the “good” part – at least, the part in which Strange is revealed as the villain.  He zooms in, back in the Batman costume.  Batman takes down the motorcycle, and after the crash sees that this is not really Strange, but another of his robots.

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Strange himself is back in the Batcave, and to a large degree this plays out much like his last story from a couple of years earlier, although in the real Wayne Manor, not a fake one.  And as before, the building gets destroyed.

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There is a clever ending, as Batman informs Commissioner Gordon and Bullock that he has hypnotized Strange into believing that Batman is Bruce Wayne, so no one believes him.  And Strange himself even begins to wonder if his knowledge is real, or if he had been hypnotized.

As Wayne Manor is in ruins at the end of the tale, this must actually come after Batman 400.  But Batman 400 is such a superior last tale that it’s preferable to imagine that there are a few months between this story and that one, and that Bruce had the repairs done really quickly.

Batman 392 – a date with Batman and Catwoman

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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 387 – Batman vs Black Mask

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 384 – the Monitor contacts the Calendar Man

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The Calendar Man, last seen in these pages back in 1979, returns for a three-part story, which begins in Batman 384 (June 1985), by Moench, Hoberg and Nebres.

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This is one of the tales to cameo the Monitor and Lyla, preceding the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, following their appearance in World’s Finest Comics.  The Monitor provides the Calendar Man with the contract to kill Robin, originated by hoods who want to hurt Batman, and get him off their backs.

The story really builds up the character, and makes the Calendar Man a far more serious villain than he had ever been hon to be previously.

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In fact, he comes off far better than Batman, who is busy mooning over Catwoman and Nocturna, while bemoaning the end of his relationship with Vicki Vale, while Alfred tries to push him into a romance with his daughter, Julia.

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Calendar Man decides to kill Robin on the first day of Spring, but to spend the intervening days committing other robberies, themed to the various holidays between then and the beginning of the year.  This gives him plenty of opportunity to show off a variety of costumes and themed weapons.  That must be why he does it. Certainly he just make things harder on himself by giving the heroes so many opportunities to catch him.

The story continues in the next issue of Detective.

Batman 381 – Batman captured and unmasked on live tv

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Moench, Hoberg and Alcala tie up a lot of the long running plot threads in Batman 381 (March 1985).

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Robin finds the evidence he had been searching for, the stolen goods that Nocturna had been living off of.  He is tempted to turn her in, but instead uses it as leverage against her in the custody issue.

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The Night Slayer, in the Batman costume, had been running around killing people.  Batman, in the Night Slayer outfit, lures Nocturna away, and then works with Commissioner Gordon and Harvey Bullock to set up both the Night Slayer and Hamilton Hill.  They capture “Batman,” and then the real Batman pulls the others mask off, revealing Anton Knight.  With the cameras still rolling, evidence comes out about Hill’s manipulations, and ordering the murder attempt on Harvey Bullock.  Both Hill and the Night Slayer get carted away.

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A the iue end, Nocturna bring Jaon Todd back to the Batcave, turning the boy over to Alfred.

And the best thing I can say is, at least it’s all over.

 

Batman 376 – Bruce does not appreciate pranks

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Batman 376 (Oct. 84) was an issue I had considered skipping over, but the villain of the story, Hellstrom, is important in the larger scheme of things.

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The story also sees Jason Todd now living in a group home, and very unhappy about it, as are Bruce and Alfred.

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Hellstrom has been pulling deadly pranks in Gotham, and Batman is far from amused.  Harvey Bullock helps Batman check on the man’s past, and he does have criminal record, which includes burglary.

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When Hellstrom tries to pull his games at a society party, attended by Bruce Wayne, as well as Vicki Vale and Julia Remarque, Bruce publicly humiliates the man.

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Changing costume, he then goes after Hellstrom as Batman, although in this case the bad guy gets away.  Batman realizes that the romantic issues and stresses about Jason are having a negative impact on him.

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As the story ends, we see that Hellstrom has been a pawn of Nocturna, which leads into the next issue of Detective.