As DC reprints Batman’s adventures from the late Eighties and early Nineties, we come upon a period where Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle begin to solidify as a creative team. Granted, John Wagner was still co-writing the series with Grant, but as we go through this collection, which features Detective Comics #583-591 and Annual #1, we see a lot of the elements that would make their work on the Caped Crusader so memorable. We have classic Grant/Breyfogle villains Ratcatcher and The Ventriloquist and Scarface make their first appearances as well as an outstanding three-part storyline featuring a villain named Kadaver and the creation of The Corrosive Man (whose touch melts things away). There’s also the first annual, which guest stars The Question and is the first part of a three-parter that crosses over into Green Arrow and The Question annuals that year. Unfortunately, those two books’ annuals aren’t included, which is one of my only gripes about this collection.
I can’t heap enough praise on the creative teams found within these comics–even Klaus Janson, whose work I don’t usually enjoy, has a solid outing courtesy of Tony DeZuniga’s inks. Moreover, what I found interesting is that these issues were being published concurrently with the lead-up to “A Death in the Family” in Batman and while that title featured art by Jim Aparo and was heavy on the Batman and Robin stories. Here, Robin is nowhere to be seen–to the point where I had to figure out whether or not these came out after Jason Todd’s death because he was always flying solo. Not that I needed Jason Todd in these issues, but the two Bat titles are such a huge difference in tone that you can really get a sense of how Batman is a multi-faceted character by reading this and that Jim Starlin-penned Batman run.
You should read this book if:
- You want to see Norm Breyfogle draw Batman
- You want some really solid street-level, non-world-threatening gritty Batman stories
- You didn’t hear me the first time when I mentioned Norm Freakin’ Breyfogle