Grant, Wagner and Breyfogle conclude the Corrosive Man/Kadaver story in Detective 589 (Aug. 88).
The Corrosive Man manages to discover the location of Kadaver’s new hideout, and heads there.
Kadaver has no idea that he is being pursued, now both by Batman and the Corrosive Man, and spends him time tormenting his latest victim.
Corrosive Man gets there first, and Kadaver finds himself less enchanted with death when actually faced with dying. Corrosive Man does not kill him, but seriously wounds him, pressing his hand into Kadaver’s forehead and leaving a permanent imprint.
Batman is better prepared for Corrosive Man this time, taking him out with quicklime. The story ends with the possibility that Corrosive Man has died, but in fact he did not, and returns about five years down the road. Kadaver returns in a couple of years.
This issue also includes a “bonus book” inserted in the middle of the comic. It features Poison Ivy, and while the story by Lewis Klahr and Steve Piersall isn’t that bad, the art, by Dean Haspiel and Denis Rodier, kills it completely.
Batman comes across a dead man, infected by Poison Ivy, but quickly determines that she did not intend to kill him. Instead, her body has become toxic even to herself, and she infects everyone she comes into contact with.
Batman does eventually manage to get her help, but the poor art just makes the entire story an unwelcome break in the Corrosive Man/Kadaver tale.
The Corrosive Man story continues in Detective 588 (July 1988), by Alan Grant, John Wagner and Norm Breyfogle.
Emerging from the waste dump, Mitchell makes quite a debut as Corrosive Man, killing a couple police officers. He continues his hunt for Kadaver.
And we get to meet his intended victim in this issue. Kadaver is obssessed with death, to the degree of sleeping in a coffin, and making himself up as a vampire or a devil. He has a somewhat willing helper in this story, but as we see, and learn from Mitchell, his normal routine is to capture and threaten people into committing crimes for him.
Batman makes his first attempt to take down Corrosive Man, but barely survives the encounter.
The story concludes next issue.
A three-part story begins in Detective 587 (June 1988) by Wagner, Grant and Breyfogle, which sees the introduction of two new villains for Batman.
Batman spends much of this issue hunting down a drug dealer, while we also follow Derek Mitchell, an escaped felon who seeks revenge on a man named Kadaver, whom he blames for his time in prison.
Towards the end of the story, Mitchell chooses to hide in a hazardous waste dump, and then gets hit by lightning.
Batman and the police believe him to be dead, but this is a comic book, and of course he survives and emerges with powers, in this case a destructive dissolving ability, turning him into the Corrosive Man.
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.
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.
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.
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.