I am borrowing Travis' idea but I am narrowing the subject matter. I bought a large Batman collection from a friend of mine. I am pulling them out of the box as my friend had them. In the case of a multi-book story line I am going to set the book aside until I have the full story. The collection includes Catwoman, Azrael, Robin and other Bat related books. Since there are three long boxes of books, this will take awhile. I would love to hear anyone elses takes on these books.

Batman 0
Creature Of The Night.
Writer Doug Moench
Artist Mike Manley
Inker Josel Rubinstein

This is the Batman origin circa 1994. The origin is sandwiched around a current Batman investigation where he tries to stop a mugger who has killed three so far. This is also shortly after his return from the Knightfall saga. For someone who knows as much about Batman as I do, it really isn't much of a story, but it does give a good overview of the story so far, which as I recall the 0 issues were supposed to do. there were a couple of questions that I have that the story brought up. Where was Alfred at this time? It is clear he hasn't done anything at Wayne Manor, which is in a little disrepair. Second question, What did Two-Face do to Dick Grayson? To quote the story, "Dick's greatest mistake, his near-fatal encounter with Two-Face, which was an event from which he never truly recovered...even after striking out on his own to become Nightwing." What issue was that story in? The story was good and I enjoyed the art. This actually was a good book to start this project on.

I scanned the comic to post the image here, but for some reason it wouldn't upload. Any suggestions on that? Otherwise, I will just do the reviews with no images.

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Figs, does your copy just have the Mike Grell pin-up? I flipped to the back of my copy, and it has Grell, Michael Kaluta, Bernie Wrightson, and Steve Rude. Just curious.

Bit of a cross post there...

Just the Grell one. But I can't really complain with the large format and 50p cost.

It's a good issue to own. I'm glad I took this oportunity to read it.

Sounds good, Howard. No pressure, you don't need to treat this as a job.

I agree. Whenever it happens. You the man on this thread, Howard.

In the words of a great man: "Go at your own chosen speed."
I posted the pin-ups on my blog today.

Thanks for the advice, Travis and Figserello. I have been putting pressure on myself. In the next day or two I will post part one of a Death In The Family.
Howard, let me echo what Travis and Figs have said: your reviews have been great, but no need to feel any pressure. Take all the time you need. If you're missing any issues after "Death In The Family" let me know - I have a complete run of issues 431-487, and I'd be happy to do a guest review if that's cool.
Thanks for posting the posters Howard. Really appreciate it.

Loved the Rude one.

(now people will go and look...)
All the pin-ups were great ... the one by Steve Rude makes me wish he had done more Batman work (or did he and I missed it?).
John Dunbar said:
Howard, let me echo what Travis and Figs have said: your reviews have been great, but no need to feel any pressure. Take all the time you need. If you're missing any issues after "Death In The Family" let me know - I have a complete run of issues 431-487, and I'd be happy to do a guest review if that's cool.

Chime in with any issue you want. It's perfectly all right with me. I'll do A Death In The Family but if you want to post one before I get to it go ahead.
John Dunbar said:
All the pin-ups were great ... the one by Steve Rude makes me wish he had done more Batman work (or did he and I missed it?).

He drew Dave Gibbons' World's Finest mini-series back around the time of the Burton film, which had a spikey little Keaton-type Batman opposite a Fleischer-esque Superman. The art is lovely, of its type. I flicked through it last night.

I flicked through it quickly, but I was looking for a read to celebrate the happy event of my unpacking my TPBs after my latest house-move and laying them out on my shelves. It is always good to see them all again!

I thought I'd read some of one before going to bed, and tried to pick one I could write about on one of the current threads I like. Then my eye fell on Ten Nights of the Beast, by Jim's Starlin and Aparo. It ran in Batman 417-421, so hopefully slots in nicely here...

The former editor who writes the introduction makes a big deal that it was the first time that a limited run within an ongoing run was packaged and sold as a seperate 'series within a series'. In this case, Denny O'Neill got the current creative team to stretch themselves a bit and produce a self-contained story which got it's own new logo, and the covers all specified 'Part X of 4' etc. Miller had done something similar a year before, with Year One, but this was the first time that the current creative team produced the goods.

It's very much standard operating procedure now, so its interesting to see it being highlighted like this. Thinking back to how I bought Batman comics back then - from the newsagent - the 'chapter of a limited story' idea probably made it feel like something a bit special to then-teenagers like myself.

The story is very 80's Chuck Norris. Photobucket ahead for what is an enjoyable romp in it's own grim terms....

A rogue KGB assassin comes to Gotham to kill the ten most crucial people to the Ronald Reagan's SDI Star Wars program, including the Gipper himself! For some reason they all happen to live, work or just be passing through America's most crime-ridden city during this week and a half.

It's very over-the-top. The KGBeast, as he's known, takes the kill-count up to triple figures in his mission to kill the ten, at one point killing a whole roomful of people while poisoning some politician.

The shock ending to issue two has Batman realising that at long last, he has met someone who might be - gulp - better than him...

It's full of the humourless, yet strangely laughable displays of machismo that eventually dragged poor Bats down to a shadow of his former self. Ribs are broken frequently and fights are conducted while "almost blacking out from the pain..." Batman gets shot TWICE in the same shoulder - ouch!!

I find it very hard to believe that this relentless misery is brought to us by the same writer that brought us The Death of Captain Marvel. That book is one of the best that Marvel ever produced. Although it's hardly a laugh a minute, it's very human and compassionate, but this seems to be brought ot us by someone who thinks life is like a straight-to-video Steven Seagal movie.

Still, all this, coupled with the real-world elements like the the Strategic Defense Initiative and the crumbling USSR, made the story feel very grown-up to my 16-year-old self. Reading it now, it was hard to take seriously. Batman's hard-boiled inner monologue made me think of a recent revelation that Batman's journals are written in this format by Alfred in full sardonic mode, as an ironic spoof of Batman as tough old-school two-fisted detective.

We also get the full horror of people running around doing whatever they like to US citizens and being protected by 'diplomatic immunity'. The 80's were hard on everyone.

Aparo does his usual fantastic and functional work on the visuals. Perhaps he got lazy in the end with faces, as there are a team of FBI agents who all look identical, except for different wigs. Gordon too, could be one of them if he lost the 'tache, pipe and glasses.

The ending has stuck with me all this time, even if the rest of the story became hazy. Big Photobucket ahead for the ending.

It comes down to a face off in the sewers, with KGBeast challenging Bats to face him man to man in a little side-room. Batman decides that it's not worth risking a fight, and instead locks him in the room behind a steel door.

This is a big line for the mainstream Batman to cross, essentially condemning his foe to starve to death.

Perhaps this loss of nerve in front of the big bully is where all his later problems stemmed from. Alas it would be decades before he'd take his year-long round the world trip to sort his head out, and things would only get worse for him in the meantime...
That fits in nicely since I don't have those. I read it when it first came out and I forgot that ending. IMO Jim Starlin is a great artist but a lousy Batman writer. After I get done with this I will be reviewing the first chapter of A Death In The Family. Starlin seems to love writing coincidences that boggle the mind. I will go into more detail with my next post.
Batman 426

Writer Jim Starlin
Artists Jim Aparo and Mike DeCarlo

A Death In the Family Chapter One.

Batman and Robin are planning on taking down a child porn ring that is located in a warehouse. Instead of waiting for the police Robin jumps in. He and Batman take out members. Batman chews him out, but Robin doesn't care.

Batman discusses Jason's behavior with Alfred. Alfred's opinion is that Jason has not had the opportunity to properly grief his parents death. Batman decides that Jason needs to be removed from the team. Jason overhears the discussion and storms out of the mansion.

The Joker has once again escaped from Arkham. This time he killed eight staff members by formulating his Joker gas using common cleaning chemicals.

While discussing the escape, Commissioner Gordon tells Batman that he has alerted the Justice League and the Teen Titans. Batman is glad he did that, but he hopes he gets to Joker first. It is mentioned here about Joker crippling Barbara Gordon.

Joker is still in Gotham. He has in his possession a cruise missile. Most of his cash has been confiscated so he plans on selling the missile to Arab terrorists.

Jason has been walking, thinking about his parents, and ends up in Crime Alley. He meets an old neighbor who gives him a box of his parents possessions that she had salvaged.

Batman tracks down one of Joker's henchmen and finds out that Joker is heading for Lebanon.

While going through the box Jason learns that Catherine was not his mother. All he knows from his birth certificate is that his mothers name begins with the letter S. He finds his dad's address book and there are three women in it whose name begins with an S. Using the bat-computer he locates all three. They are all out of the country, one in Israel, another in Lebanon, and the last in Ethiopia. Instead of asking Batman for help, he uses the credit cards he was given to travel and find them.

To transport the missiles to Lebanon Joker has stolen a plane from the Navy.

Batman finds Joker's hideout and realizes that Joker has a nuclear device and figures out what he is up to. Naturally Batman will head for Lebanon. Before he leaves Alfred tells him about Jason running away. Batman decides he has to stop Joker before dealing with Jason.

In Lebanon a CIA agent helps Batman locate the plane Joker stole. Batman gets the plane back but the missile is already gone. A call to Alfred and he learns that Jason has gone to Israel.

Jason breaks into an Israeli security compound. He hacks into the system and learns that the woman he is seeking is in Beirut. He also learns what hotel she is staying at.

Bruce is also in Beirut. He has a cab driver take him to the worst part of town. There he puts on the costume and starts taking down men until he finds one who knows where a man trying to sell a missile is staying. The woman Jason is seeking is staying at the same hotel as the man Batman is looking for. Jason is trying to figure out his next move when Batman grabs him. Jason explains why he is there. Batman tells him about the missile. Jason is upset that Batman's priority is the missile over finding his mother. They see the man and the woman they are both searching for. They are together.

They follow the couple using jet powered hang gliders. The couple meet with Joker. The man is a representative of the buyer and has cash to pay for the missile. Batman and Robin interrupt the transaction. The buyer of the missile prepares to launch it at Tel Aviv. The buyers men are trying to take out Batman and Robin. One of them prepares to shoot Batman but the woman shoots him. The man she came with grabs her. Jason charges at him and the woman uses the distraction to disable the man.

The missile blows up during the attempted launch. The money is also destroyed. Joker slinks off to figure out what to do next.

Jason asks the woman if she had given birth to a child in Gotham City. She had not. Batman agrees to help Jason check out the next one. Joker heads for Ethiopia.

You can see the cover here.

Where to start. A child pornography ring that operates out of a warehouse? WHAT???? If he had simply made it a pornography ring I would have bought it, but specifying destroys that. The way that Jason is acting is also over the top. Why is Batman using him when he has no self-control.

Why is Joker dabbling in International schemes? I agree, he needs money. Have all the banks in Gotham folded. Why go to all the trouble of going overseas when there are so many easier targets? Also, they establish that Joker has no money because the police have raided his hideouts so much that all of his property has been taken. How did they miss the cruise missile? Was Inspector Clouseau the lead investigator?

Naval security must be extremely lax for Joker to steal the plane and get his missile on it. I also find it hard to believe that Joker would leave a Geiger counter behind. Did he think that by moving the missile that he would never need it again?

Since Naval security is so bad it stands to reason that Israeli security would be equally inept. Not only does that make it easy for Jason, but it was extremely helpful that the hotel the woman was at was listed. Hopefully since they put all of that information together someone won't steal that and all of their agents get killed.

I could go on, but my head is hurting. With these tales coming on the heals of the Doug Moench run, which I enjoyed, I wonder if the idea was to get as far away from those tales as possible. In a few days we will look at part 2.

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