Shawn McManus

Detective Comics 545 (December 1984)

5650This issue has some beautiful art from Gene Colan and Bob Smith in the feature and then Shawn McManus in the backup, but it’s a disaster otherwise.

Moench spends most of the feature with his really lame character, the Night-slayer. Basically the guy’s just a standard acrobatic, costumed villain who carried on with Nocturna (his step-sister) and he’s injured and a blind girl takes care of him.

Does it seem like Bride of Frankenstein a little? Yes, it really does. See, better, the blind girl thinks he’s Batman.

As for Batman, he doesn’t get much of a story. Moench wastes over half the issue on Night-slayer and then ends it abruptly.

Just as abruptly as Cavalieri ends the Green Arrow backup, with someone finding out Ollie’s secret identity.

There’s not enough pages in either story for a satisfactory narrative; the wonderful art makes up for it… somewhat.

CREDITS

By Darkness Masked; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. Green Arrow, It’s No Fair II: Fair Raid; writer, Joey Cavalieri; artist, Shawn McManus; colorist, Jeanine Casey; letterer, Adam Kubert. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics 544 (November 1984)

5649What an issue. How to even start. Okay, so Moench is having so much trouble figuring out why Bruce Wayne wants to adopt Jason Todd, he actually has a scene where Nocturna “tempts” him with the promise of a ready-made family.

They’ll get married, adopt Jason, be Batman and family. It’s inexplicable stuff, with Moench going full steam trying to make the characters act sensibly… only there’s no sense to it.

The Nocturna art–Alcala inking Colan–is wondrous. The rest of the issue, mostly Batman trailing a thug, is nowhere near as impressive.

There’s also some stuff with Jason himself, but it’s not memorable. This adoption plot line is a complete misfire. Moench can’t even give Batman and Nocturna chemistry, mostly because she talks like such an insane flake.

As for Green Arrow? McManus’s art is still fantastic. It’s actually not particularly intelligible, but it’s definitely great looking.

CREDITS

Deceit in Dark Secrets; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Adrienne Roy. Green Arrow, It’s No Fair II: Fair from the Madding Crowd; writer, Joey Cavalieri; artist, Shawn McManus; colorist, Jeanine Casey. Letterer, Todd Klein; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics 543 (October 1984)

5648Wow, what’s Moench thinking? He’s done some great, ambitious stories since he started writing the Batman comics but… a supervillain adopting Jason Todd? Noctura is back–she looks like a vampire, something I assume they came up with for Gene Colan–and she wants to adopt Jason.

It’s actually no less absurd than Bruce Wayne wanting to adopt him. Moench writes some odd scene with Bruce and Julia (Alfred’s daughter) too. Strange stuff. Lovely art, but strange stuff this issue.

There are a lot of Dracula references, from character names to how Noctura approaches Jason. So clearly Moench is thinking. He just can’t make that Bruce Wayne character work. It’s too bad. Great art though, like I said before.

Speaking of great art, McManus inks himself on Green Arrow this issue. While Cavalieri’s story annoys as usual, it’s packed with awesome, Eisner-inspired panels. McManus delivers something outrageous and great.

CREDITS

Shadows of Vengeance; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. Green Arrow, It’s No Fair!; writer, Joey Cavalieri; artist, Shawn McManus; colorist, Jeanine Casey; letterer, Bob Lappan. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics 542 (September 1984)

Detective 542It says something when Moench’s got more character in two or three dialogue interchanges between Jason and Alfred’s daughter–they don’t like each other or something–than in a bunch of lengthy conversations between Batman and Robin. Family services takes Jason Todd away because Bruce Wayne neglected the legal process.

Yeah, right. Seems unlikely, especially when he tells the Wayne Foundation board they exist to do his bidding. It’s a megalomaniac scene and just shows how little Moench has to say about the character. The supporting cast? The villains? Moench does great. Batman? Not so much. Not at all.

If it weren’t for the moody artwork, there wouldn’t even be a point to having Batman and Robin show up in the comic. Everything else is better.

In the feature, anyway, because there’s nothing worse than the Green Arrow backup. Cavalieri introduces so many new character names, it story’s almost incomprehensible.

CREDITS

Between Two Nights; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. Green Arrow, The Nightfly II: The Turn of an Unfriendly Card ; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Shawn McManus; inker, Sal Trapani; colorist, Jeanine Casey; letterer, Bob Lappan. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics 541 (August 1984)

Detective 541It’s a strange issue with Batman chasing the Penguin down to Antarctica to stop him from selling military secrets to the Russians. Moench throws in a couple twists, both of them vaguely amusing, but they come after his two instances of Batman overcoming impossible odds to succeed. They aren’t as amusing after Moench’s sapped all the suspense from the comic.

There’s a little with the subplots–family services is after Jason, Vicki Vale has an unwanted suitor–but I don’t think Bruce Wayne even makes an appearance this issue. I should have been keeping track of how often Moench gave him a scene.

The art’s decent. The Antarctic setting isn’t much, however; it’s not Colan’s fault, Moench just doesn’t have much good action for it.

Speaking of bad action, the Green Arrow backup is inane again. Worse, there aren’t even the now regular three excellent McManus panels. It’s a drag.

CREDITS

C–C-Cold!; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. Green Arrow, The Nightfly; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Shawn McManus; inker, Sal Trapani; colorist, Jeanine Casey; letterer, Bob Lappan. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics 540 (July 1984)

Detective 540There’s something off about Colan’s layouts for the feature story. Moench splits it between Batman and Robin for the first half–Batman dealing with his Scarecrow-induced fears, Robin dealing with the Scarecrow himself–and it’s a busy issue. Somehow, it’s too busy for Colan, who doesn’t use panels but lets everything melt together. It gets muddled fast.

Still, lovely art. Just not great narrative art.

The story’s all action. Moench only spends a page on a subplot–the Dr. Fang one–and doesn’t even do much interaction between Batman and Robin or Batman and Scarecrow. Robin gets some decent face-off time with the Scarecrow though.

The end’s too sudden but it’s an okay enough story. Muddled or not, Colan and Smith draw creepy well.

McManus has a few excellent panels on the Green Arrow backup but the story’s pretty lame. Cavalieri’s big reveal is both predictable and confusing.

CREDITS

Something Scary; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. Green Arrow, In Cold Type!; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Shawn McManus; inker, Sal Trapani; colorist, Shelley Eiber; letterer, Bob Lappan. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics 539 (June 1984)

777248Bob Smith inking Don Newton is something to see. There’s almost an Eisner-like quality to the faces. It’s beautiful art on the feature.

But Moench’s writing is awesome too, whether it’s the main plot line with Batman teaming up with the Rocky stand-in to hunt down a killer or Jason feeling bad he was so crappy to Alfred’s daughter. Moench actually asks a bit of the reader–Vicki Vale figures in, but she hasn’t even had an appearance recently–but the scenes pay off.

The big boxing finale is only okay, however. Something about the way Batman stands down doesn’t play right. The epilogue’s very strong though. Moench’s trying hard to do something special with the comic.

Sadly, slapped on to this ambition is another odd Cavalieri’s Green Arrow backup. Half of this one is dedicated to the evils of corporate journalism. Cavalieri just can’t make Ollie likable.

CREDITS

Boxing; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Don Newton; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy. Green Arrow, The Devil You Don’t Know; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Shawn McManus; inker, Sal Trapani; colorist, Jeanine Casey. Letterer, Ben Oda; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics 538 (May 1984)

5643It’s a strange issue and not just because the feature’s incredibly boring. It’s a sting operation where Batman follows the new Catman–who is the new Catman because the old one sold out his cellmate and Batman and Gordon let this new guy become Catman–to make sure he gets safely to his hidden loot. Robin and Gordon follow Batman to clean up any further messes.

It probably could be good, but Moench focuses way too much on the annoying new Catman guy. Besides his grating thought clouds, the issue is mostly just awkward banter from Robin and Gordon.

It’s a goofy story; Moench’s trying way too hard to force two parters between this series and Batman.

But the wackiest thing is Cavalieri’s Green Arrow backup. It’s an ode to John Lennon. It’s not particularly good, but Cavalieri really tries hard to make it work. The weirdness helps it along.

CREDITS

Clothes Make the Cat(man); writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. Green Arrow, Three Years Ago Today; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Shawn McManus; inker, Pablo Marcos; colorist, Jeanine Casey; letterer, Albert De Guzman. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics 537 (April 1984)

5642Quick observation about the Green Arrow backup before I forget–McManus has some great panels. Not all of them, not consistently, but he has some amazing close-ups.

The feature story has Batman getting called down to the sewer by a Mexican immigrant. Moench goes for this sensitive story about a guy without a country or a present; once again, Batman is barely a character in his own book but Moench makes it work. The writing isn’t perfect, but it reads sincere and ambitious.

Of course, given the guy called Batman down because he found a body, eventually things lead to an action sequence. Colan and Smith do better on everything than they do on the action scene. Maybe the sewer setting.

The subplots–Dr. Fang, Alfred’s daughter–both get some page time too.

Moench’s doing very well. Even the Arrow backup is better than usual. It’s a good issue.

CREDITS

Down Below; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. Green Arrow, Strike First!; writer, Joey Cavalieri; artist, Shawn McManus; colorist, Jeanine Casey; letterer, Bob Lappan. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics 536 (March 1984)

5641Much of the issue consists of Alfred whining to his daughter about being the only father she has left. Yes, the poor woman is distraught, but it’s like Moench couldn’t come up with anything else for Alfred to do. Whine or be an action hero.

Similarly, Batman doesn’t have much to do. Moench doesn’t let Alfred have the whole story–because Alfred couldn’t deal with Deadshot–but he can’t insert Batman into it because he plum doesn’t belong. It should be Alfred’s story and it isn’t.

The mystery of the stolen paintings also gets ignored for Deadshot’s big escape sequence and the chase. Moench’s not exactly desperate to fill pages, but he definitely doesn’t have enough story when both Batman and Deadshot are unengaged participants.

The Green Arrow story ends with a big movie mystery reveal of the villain. Cavalieri has some goofy lines, but it’s much better than usual.

CREDITS

Facing the Dark, Blindly…; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. Green Arrow, The Black Box IV: Short Fuse; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Shawn McManus; inker, Sal Trapani; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, Bob Lappan. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

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