{World of Bats] CRISIS ON INFINITE CLUBS -- Batman (1940) #389-391, Detective Comics (1939) #556-558

Welcome everyone to this week’s foray into the World of Bats! Last week we covered the mini-series Batman: Black & White, so now we’re going to add a splash a color – more specifically, red! That’s right, this is a very special week because this is part of the community-wide Crisis on Infinite Clubs! As a celebration of the upcoming release of the massive Crisis On Infinite Earths crossover event on The CW, we’re all doing stories that connect to this iconic piece of event comics.

So for the Batman Book Club, we will be exploring some of the last of Pre-Crisis Earth 1 Batman in Batman #389-391, and Detective Comics #556-558! Both books are written by Doug Moench (surprisingly pronounced as “mench,” in case you didn’t know), with the Batman issues drawn by Tom Mandrake and Detective Comics illustrated by Gene Colan.

The skies have turned blood red. Up above these skies is a catastrophic story, with worlds living and dying…but in Gotham City, it’s just making an already tense place turn into a powderkeg. As Nocturna, the Mistress of the Night, now the leader of Black Mask’s former False Face Society, works to discover the origin of the red sky, a serial killer is ritualistically stalking her and murdering the gang. The police have one suspect in mind…the now-reformed Catwoman! For Batman and Robin, this crime spree is especially personal – can Jason Todd fight Nocturna, the woman who has become for him a surrogate mother? Does the Batman truly love Nocturna or Catwoman? Who will survive under these Bleeding Skies?

Now that I’ve got you all revved up, here’s the reading order. As you might suspect from one writer on two books, this story bounces around between the two books, so unless you want to be super lost, I would recommend reading in this order:

What to Read

Batman #389

Detective Comics #556

Batman #390

Detective Comics #557

Batman #391

Detective Comics #558

Now, onto the discussion questions!

  1. Unlike many stories going on during this time of Crisis, this story is decidedly much more grounded. Do you like how Moench handles the crossover here, or would you have rather read of Batman’s adventures in the grander, cosmic events of this event?

  2. For some of you, this may be your first exposure to Pre-Crisis Jason Todd, the kinder, more innocent Jason before he tried to jack the hubcaps off the Batmobile. What did you think of this kindler, gentler version of Jason?

  3. To say that Batman in this story is dealing with some girl problems would be…putting it mildly. Who do you think Batman loves the most? Does he love Nocturna, the woman who has Jason’s affection? Or Catwoman, the woman who has been the biggest constant in his life? Maybe even Vicki Vale, the jazzercising journalist? Or is Batman’s worst fear true, and he only loves those who are dangerous and therefore unattainable?

Of course, answers to these questions and any other thoughts, questions, praises, critiques, and memes can be sent below! Let’s get some discussions going!

This book club is a weekly affair, so here’s the time frame: 2019-11-16T06:00:00Z2019-11-23T06:00:00Z

But don’t worry, if you get behind, or if you’re from the distant future, you can always leave your thoughts on this and any installment of the book club.

So let’s get the book orders right, avoid the freaky red lightning, and get to reading!

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As a quick aside, I’d like to say that when I first picked these issues up at my local comic shop some time ago, I had no idea they had to do with COIF, and honestly, I think I prefer it that way. Sure, the red skies were an oddity, but overall, Moench could not have written a more removed tie-in to the crisis if he tried. The potential was certainly there to have Batman gallivanting through the multiverse with the Freedom Fighters or whoever else, but I enjoy this more subtle approach. It shows that for a lot of people, it was business as usual, despite the fact that the Anti-Monitor was out there, devouring universes the way most children devour cake.

Regarding pre-crisis Jason, I can’t say that I’m much of a fan. Sure, he’s a sweet kid, but he’s too much of a clone of Dick Grayson. The fact that they used the crisis to give his origin story a little more diversity was a much better alternative than sticking with the whole “Flying Todds” bit. Now, did they maybe go a bit overboard when he’s suspected of pushing a guy off a balcony? Perhaps that’s a discussion for another day.

I might be alone in this, but I kinda enjoy seeing Batman go through these weird relationship troubles. Within the span of this story arc, he’s really got the whole “Betty or Veronica” problem going for him, and I find that to be a refreshing break from the superhero antics that rightfully take up the bulk of the books. Though if you ask me, the one true pairing will always be Batman and Catwoman. Particularly in this era, where Catwoman’s reformed and they fight crime together in their classic costumes, it’s just an excellent pairing. That said, I would hardly say that Batman’s condemned to only love the dangerous women he can’t have. I feel like the BatCat pairing only really works when Catwoman’s reformed, and that really applies to all the other women in Batman’s history as well.

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From Batman #389:

I wonder if Moench already knew that King was being tapped to write the introduction to Batman #400 or if this is a case akin to James Bond dissing the Beatles in Goldfinger just to get a Wings theme song years later. :wink:

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“Betty or Veronica,” that’s definitely a good way to put it – this story is like Archie with lots more punching. Part of my brain is already picturing this Archie/Batman crossover. Which one is Betty and which one is Veronica? Would that make Vicki in this story Josie? How does Jason Todd feel about cheeseburgers?

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I mean, I’m sure King would even call some of his work junky – when you write a novel a year, they can’t all be winners. And I say that as someone who is a fan of his work!

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I think I now how have a discussion question for my club. :stuck_out_tongue:

Of course, pre-Crisis Jason would be grateful for a cheeseburger (unless Mommy Nocturna told him they were bad for him), while post-Crisis Jason would be too cool for some lame mincemeat sandwich (but would secretly enjoy it).

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Hmm…I’m not sure I’d fully agree. I think Post-Crisis Jason would probably be the type of guy who knows the best dive diners in the grittiest corners of Gotham, along with the most happening bars that don’t water down the drinks too much.

Well, I nearly wrote that Jason would insist on eating the Gotham equivalent of a Philly cheesesteak instead. :wink:

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Ah, that makes more sense!


Look! It’s my avatar!

Actually, it isn’t, but the stupid thing won’t change on the forums (I swear it was only supposed to be a thought bubble for one day).

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Huh, that sucks – maybe it’s something to contact support over?

I do like that panel, though!

In these issues, we get a nice callback to Bullock’s love of classic movies as he compares himself to Claude Rains in Casablanca and consults his poster of Basil Rathbone for advice.

On another note, it’s a bit odd that in the pre-Crisis era, Batman never flat-out tells Gordon that he traded in his own Robin for a new one. (Gordon also seems relieved that the Masked Manhunter has a pint-sized human target with him, giving us an early version of the “Batman needs Robin” argument.)

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That’s a good point – I wonder if this is the first time we’ve really seen an explicit “Batman needs a Robin” moment in comics, or anywhere.

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Finally finished this!

A good tie-in generates curiosity about the event and invites the ongoing’s reader to look into the event for context without disrupting the flow of the series it appears in. I’d say this does so flawlessly. These are some of the best tie-in issues I’ve ever read… within their capacity as tie-ins. The red skies and strange storms are ever-present and escalating, directly affecting the plot in multiple places, but if you were a regular Batman reader who wasn’t already looking at the Crisis, you could still read this without being confused.

Well, my opinion of Pre-Crisis Jason is that he certainly exists.

I think.

OK, so I understand that the CW didn’t exist yet, so they hadn’t established their status as masters of long-winded, overcomplicated, whiny, boring romantic melodrama. I think the reason for that is that there’s so frickin’ much of it in these six issues that the world was set for the following twenty years.

I don’t care who Batman loves. I mean, a little, but not enough to sustain six issues, and, in case you were wondering, certainly not enough to sustain a hundred issues. (Or eighty-five or whatever).

And I mean, Batman and Catwoman is fine because I like both of them and there’s something cool and thematic about it. Except her personality wasn’t as clearly established yet in this story, and when she’s written as totally reformed, it loses the partial antagonism that makes the relationship interesting in the first place. She’s just another superhero. Because really, it’s not so much Batman who needs the danger, it’s the reader. Batman stories are cool when they’re dark and dangerous, so his relationships work best when they’re dark, dangerous, and cool, not sappy, emotional, and filled with complaining.

And Nocturna was interesting for about thirty seconds. Then we got into all the long-winded waxing poetic about how mysterious and dark and alluring she is, and you’ve got four different characters who are obsessed with her (Jason admittedly not in a romantic way) while she sits around not doing anything and not really even being all that mysterious. She wants to be a really cool femme fatale when she grows up but doesn’t really know how to do that, so she just wears a black low-cut dress and talks about the night a lot and hopes that covers it.

I really was trying to like this story and I just kept getting more and more frustrated with this stuff as it dragged on.

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Yeah, I can definitely get what you mean about the overwroughtness of it, especially the whole relationship aspect. When I first read these issues to see if they would work for the club crossover, I thought it was interesting because this sort of more soapy take was one I hadn’t really seen in Batman comics before. It kind of felt like 70s Marvel in that sense, and read in that sort of classic style, I found it more tolerable than some of the more annoying aspects of CW melodrama. At least no one walked out of their wheelchairs to break up with someone!

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I’m quite fond of the melodrama. Perhaps that’s one reason why Tom King’s run has felt like a return to my Batman.

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Yeah, while there’s been a couple arcs I’ve been “eh” on, overall I’ve liked the Tom King run, flaws and all.

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Time for me to answer my own questions!

Unlike many stories going on during this time of Crisis, this story is decidedly much more grounded. Do you like how Moench handles the crossover here, or would you have rather read of Batman’s adventures in the grander, cosmic events of this event?

I think this method of crossover works for these books. I feel like a lot of times the best event tie-in stories are the ones where the creators take the concept of the event and ask “how can I use this to further the story I’m telling?” I think Moench takes the sort of apocalyptic feeling of Crisis and uses it to sort of create a climax for his run.

I guess it could have been interesting if maybe one book focused on the more personal story in Gotham while the other went into Bruce and Jason’s perspective of stories within the Crisis storyline, but one, I don’t remember them being that big in the story, and two, Batman and Detective had been so interlinked for all this time it would have been weird for the writer to just suddenly change that.

For some of you, this may be your first exposure to Pre-Crisis Jason Todd, the kinder, more innocent Jason before he tried to jack the hubcaps off the Batmobile. What did you think of this kindler, gentler version of Jason?

First off, looking back, I’m ashamed that I used “kinder” twice in the same section about the same thing. I probably should have done a better editorial pass on this.

Second, I didn’t hate this Jason, but I didn’t really LOVE it either. Maybe I’ll like it more as I’m reading more of this run, but I feel like while there maybe truth that the creators made Post-Crisis a little too crazy and messed-up, he definitely needed a little edge added to him. If only just to make him feel like his own character and not Dick 2.0.

To say that Batman in this story is dealing with some girl problems would be…putting it mildly. Who do you think Batman loves the most? Does he love Nocturna, the woman who has Jason’s affection? Or Catwoman, the woman who has been the biggest constant in his life? Maybe even Vicki Vale, the jazzercising journalist? Or is Batman’s worst fear true, and he only loves those who are dangerous and therefore unattainable?

First, I have to say that I never really thought of Vicki as a possible choice. I just thought it was kind of funny seeing her get swole in the brief moment we see her in these issues and typing this up I giggled to myself when I thought “jazzercising journalist.”

Second, I mean, look at my avatar, you probably know I’m going to answer Catwoman. However, I will agree with @BatJamags that I feel like something does get missing when Catwoman becomes a full, 100% superhero. I think she’s best when she’s not really on the side of the law, but with her own moral code – like in Brubaker’s run, where she’s stealing from crooks hurting women and animals and using part of it to help the people in her community. That feels more like a Catwoman that Bruce could realistically love and still have a bit of danger as well.

That said, I will say that the Batman issue after this, with him and Selina going out on a date…well, trying to…is pretty damn cute, and a really fun issue. It looks like the next issue of Detective also has Bruce and Selina on a team-up/double date with Green Arrow and Black Canary which…I’m 100% in for, but I haven’t read it yet.

Turns out Tom King didn’t start the whole “Bat & Cat” thing – who knew!


(also a great reaction image, in case anyone was looking for one.)

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One more issue to go. A few thoughts.
As soon as I saw Noctruna, I remembered this story. The visuals of her and the red storms were etched in my mind. At first, it seemed like the crisis was just background noise in the story, but as it goes on this impact the end of the world was having really helps shape the story. I too very much enjoy the melodrama of Bats conflicted love interests, but the narration and dialogue can be very over written at times.
Bullock. Like the classic movie buff angle but the destructive Colombo gag gets old after awhile.
Gordon “Yes, I know Batman is endangering a different child, but whatever.”


Bats got game

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