Tag Archives: Vicki Vale

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.

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 395 – Film Freak debuts

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The last villain to be introduced before the post-Crisis reboot of Batman was the Film Freak, in Batman 395 (May 1986).

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Burt Weston, named in honour of the star of the 60s tv series, is a failed actor gone mad, who acts out scenes from movies he really loves.  In this introductory story, Moench and Mandrake play out a mystery, as various characters work to figure out the bald man’s identity.

Vicki Vale get photographs of the maniac, and Julia Pennyworth dubs him the Film Freak in her article.

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While Batman is teamed with Catwoman, Robin becomes, effectively, partners with Harvey Bullock.

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Bot Vicki Vale and Julia Pennyworth display a shocking lack of knowledge about motion pictures, when Julia receives a note from the Film Freak.  He is none too happy about the second part of the monicker she gave him, and signs his note Norman Bates.  Neither woman gets the reference.

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Vicki does, eventually, find another person on the paper who is not an idiot, and tells her that Norma Bates was the killer in Psycho.  But by that time, Julia has already headed for the shower…

The story continues in the next issue of Detective.

Batman 390 – Catwoman vs Nocturna

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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

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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.