Monday, November 25, 2019


Writer: Marv Wolfman | Artists: Irv Novick & Frank McLaughlin
Colorist: Adrienne Roy | Letterer: Ben Oda | Editor: Paul Levitz

After a brief prologue that we'll look at in a moment, this week's BATMAN installments begin where last week's ended -- with Robin storming out of the Batcave after Batman has agreed to allow Talia to stay there. But Batman soon leaves his love behind to go investigate Gregorian Falstaff, and we learn some tidbits I don't think Len Wein intended when he created the character: specifically, that Falstaff was virtually unknown before three years ago, when he made all his money, and that he is operating as a front for someone else. This is confirmed a scene or two later, when Falstaff himself refers to a mysterious "master" while chatting with his lieutenant, Karlyle Krugerrand.

Batman deduces that Falstaff has been getting intel on Wayne Enterprises from Bruce Wayne's secretary, Caroline Crowne. The Caped Crusader payes Crowne a visit and saves her from being roughed up by a "mutate" on Falstaff's payroll. Crowne admits that she's only been spying on Bruce because Falstaff is holding her daughter hostage. Batman changes to Bruce and visits Falstaff, where he learns that the villain is seizing Wayne properties left and right. Later, back at the Batcave, Talia sedates Batman, but as she leaves to carry out a mysterious errand, she fails to realize he's still conscious.

Friday, November 22, 2019


If you'll indulge me a moment: back in 2016, when I reviewed the UNCANNY X-MEN OMNIBUS vol. 3, I said:
"The first chunk of the "official" bonus material is possibly the coolest: 66 pages reprinting full profiles for every X-character seen in the original OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSE. This is basically a mini-handbook all on its own, and the profile art, by the likes of Smith, Cockrum, Byrne, and more, looks beautiful in the reconstructed Omnibus format. I know it might not be to everyone's taste, but this stuff gets me thinking that I would love to see a full OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSE OMNIBUS. Yes, the profiles would be thirty years out of date, but that series is as much a part of my childhood -- and the childhoods of an entire generation -- as are the actual comics from which they draw their inspiration."
Well, here we are three-and-a-half years later, and this month's Unboxing features the arrival of (drum roll) the OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSE OMNIBUS!

Like I said above, the profiles are way out of date, but I don't really care. This book is a lot of fun to flip through, and it features a Marvel Universe which exists now only in memory, with nearly all the characters shown as they were, preserved in their most iconic costumes (which is a reason I've never warmed up to the later "Deluxe Edition" handbook, which features several characters in their then-current and less timeless looks). And even though the book reprints the issues in order (with the "dead and inactive" characters lumped together in the back), there's a spiffy table of contents up front in complete alphabetical order, making it simple to find any character you might be looking for.

That's it for November, folks. With Black Friday coming up in just one week, I anticipate grabbing some digital releases from Comixology/Amazon -- but since that's nearly the end of the month, if I do so, I'll just save them for December.

Monday, November 18, 2019

BATMAN #330 & #331

Writer: Marv Wolfman | Dialogue: Michael Fleisher (issue 331)
Penciler: Irv Novick | Inkers: Vince Colletta (issue 330 & Frank McLaughlin (issue 331)
Letterer: Ben Oda | Colorist: Adrienne Roy | Editor: Paul Levitz

And now we rejoin our story, already in progress... or so it seems when one dives into this issue. Don't get me wrong -- the story begins cleanly, with a setup introduced on the first page (specifically, a crook Batman sent up the river years ago is scheduled to be executed the next day, so he puts out a bounty -- he will pay ten million dollars in gold to anyone who can off Batman before he dies). But in terms of sub-plots, something's a bit off. Robin arrives early on to assist Batman in avoiding the various assassins who are now gunning for him. So far, so good -- until suddenly, Batman gives his partner the cold shoulder, and Robin realizes it's because this is the first time they've interacted since he announced that he was dropping out of college.

Now, look -- we haven't been reading every Batman-related story that came out around this time. Yes, we've covered BATMAN consistently; every issue dating back nearly two years now. And we've looked at a lot of consecutive DETECTIVE COMICS issues as well... but only the main stories. Both these series ran backup features, off-and-on, usually starring Robin and Batgirl. And I have to assume that Robin dropped out in one of those -- which is fine! But what strikes me odd about this is that Wolfman's script mentions it casually, almost in passing, as if we're supposed to know about it. And to the reader of 1980/81, that may well have been the case -- but you can't assume that all readers have been picking up every issue of every comic.

Monday, November 11, 2019

BATMAN #328 & #329

Writer: Marv Wolfman | Artists: Irv Novick & Frank McLaughlin
Colorist: Adrienne Roy | Letterer: Ben Oda | Editor: Paul Levitz

Look up top for a second, will you? No, not at the writing credit, which tells us that Marv Wolfman is now aboard as BATMAN's regular writer (for eight issues, anyway). Check out those story titles: "Double Jeopardy!" "Twice Dies the Batman!" Yep, you guessed it -- not only is Marv here, but Two-Face came with him! And on top of that, Wolfman is using these stories for a bit of a deep-dive into Batman's lore, which is always nice to see.

We begin in the Batcave, as Batman is taunted by a video message from Carl Ternion, who was recently tried and found not guilty of murder, but who -- in his message -- now brags to Batman that he did commit the crime. Protected by "double jeopardy" laws, he can never be tried for that crime again, but Batman nonetheless sets out to get to the bottom of Ternion's confession. As he investigates, the Darknight Detective finds that Ternion is dating Gilda Stevens, the ex-wife of Two-Face, who was recently widowed when her second husband, David, was murdered.

So here's the thing: Wolfman plays this as a mystery, but it really isn't one. Besides big clue in the title above, Ternion is depicted several times throughout part one with half his face obscured, or split down the middle through some means such as the divider between window panes as he looks outside. Combined with the fact that he's dating Harvey Dent's ex and has killed the man who murdered her husband (who was Harvey's former assistant when he was district attorney), it's quite obvious that Ternion is Two-Face in disguise.

Monday, November 4, 2019

DETECTIVE COMICS #494, #495, & #496

Way back in January of 2014, before this blog was even a year old, I read the 1970s WRATH OF THE SPECTRE series by Michael Fleischer and Jim Aparo. (Part 1 | Part 2). When I was done with those issues, I realized I had a few DETECTIVE COMICS Batman stories by Fleischer handy as well, in the pages of TALES OF THE BATMAN: DON NEWTON -- so I read and wrote about them as well, as sort of a bonus.

Well, as it happens, those issues were published in late 1980, overlapping with the BATMAN issues we'll be reading over the next couple weeks. So, for your pleasure, here's a post from the earliest days of NOT A HOAX!:


And with that, our two weeks of "reprint" posts come to an end. Next week, in the first pair of our final eight issues in this retrospective, Marv Wolfman comes aboard BATMAN to wrap up Len Wein's dangling plots, as the Caped Crusader goes up against Two-Face.