Tag Archives: Alfredo Alcala

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.

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Batman 385 – the Calendar Man aims for Robin

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The three-part Calendar Man story come to a conclusion in Batman 385 (July 1985), thanks to Moench, Hoberg, Chuck Patton and Alcala.

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By far the biggest problem with this tale is simply that all the encounters between Batman and Robin and the Calendar Man are essentially filler, as everyone waits for him to finally try to kill Robin. Batman wants to keep Robin safe, but even when he has the chance, the Calendar Man passes on trying to kill the boy ahead of schedule.

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When the big day finally comes, it is, at least, fulfilling to see Robin take the villain down, rather than Batman.

Aide from that, this is a really good outing for the villain, who is next seen in Crisis on Infinite Earths.

 

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 380 – Batman and the Night Slayer trade off

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Batman 380 (Feb. 85), by Moench, Rick Hoberg and Alcala, is one of my least favourite issues from this period.

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While the Night Slayer goes after Nocturna, Batman tracks him to the blind woman who had been tending to him.

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The Night Slayer captures Nocturna and Jason Todd, but through a bizarre (and rather stupid) set of circumstances, he and Batman wind up switching costumes, and Batman even becomes convinced that he is a killer.

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This situtation drags on into the following issue of Detective.  The less said the better, as far as I’m concerned.

 

Batman 379 – Nocturna vs the Mad Hatter

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The Mad Hatter story line concludes in the Moench, Newton and Alcala story in Batman 379 (Jan. 85).

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There are a number of things I like about this issue: the repeated use of bedtime stories by various characters, and the way the Mad Hatter builds an army of mind controlled subjects.  But it also buries itself deep in the Nocturna soap opera, which gets less and less entertaining the longer it goe on.

In a weird editorial decision, Vicki Vale gives Julia Pennyworth the job of writing up the custody battle over Jason Todd for the newspaper.  Giving the assignment to a woman currently living with Bruce Wayne is hardly going for a bias-free article.

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The Mad Hatter builds his army of mind controlled victims by putting up ads for a job, and forcibly recruiting any whom come to apply.  This take on the Mad Hatter, keeping him a mastermind on the sidelines while his slaves do the work, would become the standard way the character operated from now on.

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Nocturna tries to convince Jason to stay with her, but when Batman comes a calling, Jason makes it clear that he has no intentions of giving up being Robin.  Nocturna’s seductive powers don’t seem much use at keeping Batman off the streets either.

I should also mention that, though I didn’t take a clip of it, we see that the Night Slayer is being tended to by a blind woman, who comes to believe that he is a good guy.

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While Batman and Robin find themselves immersed in battle with the Mad Hatter’s slaves, it’s Nocturna who winds up taking down the villain herself.  True, he did use his hats on her in the previous issue, but one gets the feeling that she does this more to show that she could be a partner to the two heroes.

The Mad Hatter returns in Batman 400.

Batman 378 – the Mad Hatter sends Nocturna a present

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The Mad Hatter, last seen in Detective Comics in 1983, makes his return in Batman 378 (Dec. 84), using hats for mind control, in a story by Moench, Newton and Alcala.

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This is really the first time that the mind control element has been added to the character, who now looks far more like the Tenniel illustrations, the way the character originally appeared in the late 1940s.

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Lucius Fox looks far more devastated than Bruce Wayne as the court awards Natalia Knight the custody of Jason Todd.  Jason had requested to live with Nocturna, but did this in order to get evidence against her, and he lets Bruce know of his plans.

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Nocturna receives a hat from a “secret admirer,” and it’s a tribute to her ego that she assumes that the present is from Bruce Wayne.  She dons the hat, and falls under the control of the Mad Hatter.  He hopes to use his computerized hat controlling machine thingy to get all that Nocturna knows about Batman, hoping to find out the hero’s secret identity.

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Batman had been heading over to see Robin, and they wind up coming to Nocturna’s aid.  But the mind control machine doe not work, and Batman winds up fighting against a raging Nocturna, while Robin gets stuck dealing with the Hatter’s monkey, allowing the villain to escape.

The story continue in the net issue.

Batman 377 – Nocturna rejects the Night Slayer

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Nocturna becomes a major player in the next year of Batman comics, beginning with the Moench, Newton and Alcala tale in Batman 377 (Nov. 84).

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Natalia Knight has petitioned the courts for custody of Jason Todd, and Bruce Wayne does a really horrible job of trying to argue against this, looking like a raging lunatic despite Lucius Fox’s best efforts.

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But Nocturna is not at all pleased when Anton Knight reveals to her that he has killed Hellstrom, out of love for her.  And has also changed his name from the Thief of Night to the Night Slayer.

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Nocturna puts the moves on Batman, who is seduced by her drugged scent – and possibly by her as well.  The Night Slayer is hovering around, and when he sees Batman and Nocturna go at it, he attacks.

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The battle between Batman and the Night Slayer gets cut short when Anton gets shot by Nocturna.  He flees, and Nocturna tends to Batman’s wounds.

The story continues in the next issue of Detective.