Tag Archives: Bruce Wayne

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 398 – will Circe help cure Two-Face?

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Moench and Mandrake conclude the Two-Face/Circe story in Batman 398 (Aug. 86).

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While Catwoman and Batman discuss their relationship and partnership, and the effect it is having on Robin, Jason Todd falls in love – or at least into a serious crush – and begins to finally understand why Bruce and Selina are acting the way they are.

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Catwoman had been upset that Batman had not informed her that he had contacted and recruited Circe to help him with Two-Face, and he is actually apologetic about keeping her out of the loop.  Circe leads Two-Face into the robbery of a golden mask of a pharoah, and appears to knock out a guard, but we see that the guard is really Batman, and the whole thing is a set-up.

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It’s a big psychological game, intended to make Two-Face willing to go back to being Harvey Dent.  Though Circe plays a romantic game with Dent, it’s odd that at no point in the story does he talk about his wife, Gilda.

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Also, in a fairly shocking development, though Two-Face says he will allow the flip of the coin to determine his choice, we see him flip the coin repeatedly, to get the answer he wants.  This is not something that has been shown before, and basically goes against everything the character stands for.

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Two-Face then plays some make-up games, to make both sides of his face match, both as good, and underneath as bad.  He has figured out that Circe was manipulating him wit the golden mask, and none too happy about it.  Fortunately, Batman was ready for this.

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And though both Robin and Catwoman help out on the case, by the end of the tale, Catwoman has decided that their partnership really is not working for her.

Two-Face is back almost immediately, in Batman 400.

Batman 389 – Nocturna returns

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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 386 – Black Mask debuts

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.