Tag Archives: Commissioner Gordon

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 399 – a grisly tale

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A cheery cover for Batman 399 (Sept. 86), and the Moench and Mandrake tale does not shy away from it.

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In fact, the image gets repeated right away, on the splash page.  The story deals with a misogynistic axe murderer, and makes the most of Mandrake’s art style.

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There is even a decent mystery at the core of it, as Batman, Bullock and Commissioner Gordon cannot piece together the victim with any motive, and wonder if the killer got the wrong victim.

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As one might expect from the cover, this plays out more like a horror film than anything else, and is very effective at it.

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Catwoman has a small role in the story, despite the end of their partnership in he previous issue.  They never really said goodbye, and the kiss at the end of this issue is the big farewell to their romance.

This story is also the last “normal” story for the Earth-1 Batman.  The annual (which had actually been released before this), and Batman 400 both function as final stories of this version of Batman.

Batman 396 – Film Freak goes King Kong

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Moench and Mandrake continue with the Film Freak’s introduction in Batman 396 (June 1986).

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Batman and Catwoman had been working separately on the case from Robin and Harvey Bullock, but Commissioner Gordon brings them all together to share their information on Burt Weston, and his actions as Film Freak.

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Batman realizes that his crimes has been making references to Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much, and just in time he figures out that a bomb was meant to go off just as an explosion took place in the premiere of a new movie, called Boom.  The director is none too thrilled to have his movie cut off at the big scene, but overall this entire sequence plays the suspense very well, and in a true Hitchcock fashion.

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Film Freak manages to grab Julia Pennyworth again, while dressed up as a giant ape, so that he can do a King Kong thing – but the Film Freak gets caught.  Was he seriously planning to plummet to his death?

Catwoman and Robin decide to put aside their differences and work together, which makes Batman happy.

Film Freak returns in a couple of issues.

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 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 375 – Gotham under ice

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Mr. Freeze is back in Batman 375 (Sept. 84), with his biggest plans to date.

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Newton and Alcala provide some excellent art on Moench’s story, as the villain tries to freeze the entire city of Gotham.

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Mr. Freeze recaps his own origin to his men in this story, and how he changed his name from Mr. Zero.  This is the early origin, which has nothing to do with any sick wife.

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He creates a large glacier, which draws not only Batman and Robin, but also Commissioner Gordon and Harvey Bullock, and Vicki Vale and Julia Remarque as well.  But this is also the night a representative from child welfare comes to the house, and only Alfred is home.  He tries to cover Bruce and Jason’s absence, but the woman is infuriated when she catches him in a lie, and decides that Jason Todd must be removed from the home.

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Having both women in the story helps emphasize that, while Vicki Vale is interested in Bruce Wayne, Julia only has eyes for Batman.  Robin find this all very amusing, until Alfred informs him of the child welfare decision.

Mr. Freeze get no further with his plan than the first ice cap, and will not be seen again for a couple of years, until Batman 400.