Detective 625 (Dec. 90) sees the big finale to the Ostrander/Sprang/Henry/McKone/Marzan Jr comic-within-a-comic storyline.
Batman has managed to deduce the identity of the killer claiming to be him, and confronts the psychiatrist who had released back into the public. Her guilt and anger are very sad, and real, and one is left feeling sorry for her, rather than upset.
The third issue of the Batman comic sees the creation of a Catwoman, also supernatural, determined to devour the soul of Batman.
Catwoman almost succeeds, but is killed by Batgirl, who unrequited love for Batman prompted her to adopt the identity.
The climaxes of the two stories are intertwined, and though the Batman-killer is a dangerous and deluded maniac, there is little that feels like a triumph in his defeat, much as there is little triumph in the conclusion of the comic-within-the-comic.
Though the sales on the book have been excellent, the resulting murders have repulsed the author of the comic, and he ends publication with the third issue, killing off his version of Batman.
An excellent story from start to finish, the comic-within-the-comic could have simply been published as an Elseworlds, but is so much more effective in the context Ostrander placed it.
And you just gotta love Alfred’s closing observations.
Ostrander, Sprang, Henry, McKone and Marzan Jr continue their story of the comic book Batman in Detective 623 (Nov. 90).
The second issue of the comic within the comic pits the demonic Batman against the Joker, who actually isn’t that different from the real one. A young boy wishes for the ability to help Batman, and is transformed into Robin.
There is a Bathound in the tale, which is capable of turning into a Batmobile, and this second issue seems much lighter than the first.
At least, until the Joker gets his hands on Robin, and “steals his innocence.” In the “reality” part of the story Batman starts hunting for the killer claiming to be him, and the comic’s writer is questioned, and blamed, for the murders.
I do feel a little bad about mostly taking captures of Henry’s work instead of that by McKone and Marzan Jr, but it is, by design, so much more dynamic than the “reality” parts of the story.
The story concludes next issue.
John Ostrander scripts an amazing three-part story that begins in Detective 622 (Oct. 90). The art in each of the three issues is divided into three as well. Golden age artist Dick Sprang does the covers, which are both the covers of the actual book, and the covers of the comic-within-the-comic. Flint Henry provides the wild and detailed fantasy world of that comic, while Mike McKone and Jose Marzan, Jr do the pencils and inks on the “reality” part of the story. In each case, the artist(s) is perfectly suited for the job at hand.
A new comic book starts being published in Gotham, which tells a dark and supernatural version of the Batman story. While the story gets nowhere close to the tale of Bruce Wayne, the emotional reality is accurate, though everything is made almost operatic in its extremes.
Alfred shows the first issue to Bruce, who dismisses it as meaningless.
But not everyone feels the same way. A disturbed man, inspired by the comic, begins to murder people, and phones into a radio show, claiming to be Batman.
The story continues in the next issue.