Posts tagged ‘John Wagner’

Detective 586 – Batman vs the Ratcatcher


Great cover by Breyfogle on Detective 586 (May 1988), as he, Grant and Wagner conclude the introduction of the Ratcatcher.


We (and Batman and the Gotham police) learn that the Ratcatcher is an ex-con seeking revenge on those he blames for putting him into prison.  As well as the judge, he has the arresting officers in his cells, among others.  He also seems not to care for his army of rodents, as he feeds to them his prisoners.


The rats prove very effective against unwanted police.


But of course Batman can prevail where normal men falter.

While clearly not destined to be one of the great Batman villains, Ratcatcher would return.  The army of rats is just too good to ignore.

Detective 585 – The Ratcatcher debuts


Grant, Wagener and Breyfogle introduce the Ratcatcher, another new foe for the Batman in Detective 585 (April 1988) with inks by Ricardo Villagran.


The Ratcatcher manages to be seriously scary without being terribly imposing himself, simply because of his horde of rodents.


He is holding a number of men captive in cells below the city, tormenting them, and using his rats to kill any who try to escape.  But the one who does, even though he dies, is recognized as a prominent judge that has gone missing, setting Batman on his trail.


Batman tracks down the Ratcatcher, but their first confrontation ends with the villain flooding the sewer, attempting to kill Batman.

Detective 584 – Batman vs the Ventriloquist


Grant, Wagner and Breyfogle conclude their two-part introduction of the Ventriloquist in Detective 584 (March), with inks by Steve Mitchell.


Having tracked him as the source the fever drug, Batman confronts the Ventriloquist at his club.  I really love the conceit that Scarface is incapable of pronouncing the letter “b,” so he winds up calling the hero Gatman.  Batman has no patience for the pair, refusing to deal with Scarface as if he were real.


On the flip side, this issue also allows us to see how the Ventriloquist and Scarface interact with each other.  The word balloons just help emphasize the degree to which Scarface is treated as a real person.


Batman figures out their plot to smuggle the drugs in the corpse of one of their own gang, but gets doused with the  fever himself in the final battle.


The final scene, with the Ventriloquist and Scarface fighting it out in a prison cell, all but ensured that this was a villain we needed to see again.

Detective 583 – The Ventriloquist debuts


Alan Grant and John Wagner begin their scripting run on this book with Detective 583 (Feb. 88), joining Norm Breyfogle and Kim deMulder as they introduce the Ventriloquist.


The story begins with a deadly new drug, fever, becoming popular among the street kids of Gotham.


As Batman deals with the rampaging teems, we follow the chain of command, up to Scarface.  In this story, the Ventriloquist himself barely seems important.  Scarface makes the dynamic debut.  His devoted muscle, Rhino, also makes his bow in this story.


Breyfogle’s art is a real boost to the comic, and his Batman is shadowy and menacing.

The story concludes in the next issue.


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