Mountain Comics #20 – Batman #389


Rob welcomes back Sean Ross to the cabin to discuss "Red Skies", from BATMAN #389, by Doug Moench and Tom Mandrake!

Check out images from this comic by clicking here!

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9 responses to “Mountain Comics #20 – Batman #389

  1. This was a fantastic episode, guys. The Moench Batman is where I started collecting Batman, so it’s always been extremely special to me. I’ve discovered in recent years (and in many Back Issue FB group comments from people) that Nocturna is not very beloved by many fans. Which has always upset me! I love the character, and the way Moench slowly built her story over those years was captivating. I adore this era of Batman, and it’s never seemed to get much love from anyone else, so thank you for highlighting this issue! That cover blew my mind as a kid and it’s still perfection today.

    BTW, it’s been AGES since I commented here, but I still listen from time to time when I can! You guys still rock, keep on rockin’!

  2. Great discussion, fellas! I love hearing people talk about Batman on this network. And it’s always a joy to hear Sean Ross talk about anything. Permanent Mountain Comics cohost…?

    Just in the last year, Doug Moench (I think it’s like “munch” but who the hell knows?) has become one of my favorite comic book writers. I had read a good chunk his first Batman run years ago, but more recently I’ve been diving into his Marvel work including MOON KNIGHT, MASTER OF KUNG FU, and the Deathlok stories in ASTONISHING TALES. He also wrote the second half of the WEREWOLF BY NIGHT series. I love his stories on that book; unfortunately, by then he was partnered with the perfectly-fine Don Perlin on art instead of the more viscerally dynamic Mike Ploog.

    1. Thanks, Ryan! I agree that Moench is highly underrated. He is a top-ten Batman writer of all time and his Moon Knight run was epic. People forget that Moench also co-created Black Mask. It was really cool to get to revisit that era.

  3. Great episode guys! Yes, this run is overlooked. Moench (I think it’s pronounced “MENCH”) took over from Gerry Conway, who also wrote both Batman and ‘Tec as really a bi-weekly title, but after running with the introduction of Jason as Robin proper, quickly carved out his own niche.

    I will be honest, I got a little sick of Nocturna and the Night Theif/Slayer as a kid. I think it was all the purple prose, and the strange “is she or isn’t she a villainess” back and forth Doug kept putting Batman through with her. All the relationships she was in seemed icky. Her and Anton, definitely. Her and Batman, because she was filling the Catwoman role of antagonist he’s attracted to…while Catwoman was also in the books. And her and Jason, because his longing for her to be his mom seemed to kind of come out of nowhere. And she did seem overly sexualized in scenes with him at times, like we see here. Paging Dr. Freud!!!

    I kind of felt like Moench was way more into Nocturna than a lot of his readers were, just like Steve Englehart being in love with his creation Mantis so much he kept using her everywhere he went, even at other comic companies! I do think Nocturna returned Post-Crisis in the Robin title in the early 2000s, but it wasn’t a very memorable return. Bruce Timm and co. pitched her as a vampire in a story they never could get approved by Broadcast Standards and Practices, so she missed her chance to be on BTAS, albeit in a very different form.

    I need to go back and re-read these stories as an adult. They were probably too literate and nuanced for my 10 year old brain to fully comprehend. Even then I thought the Batman books had become a soap opera, and not just in the serialized nature of the stories, but also the content. There was a lot of sexual undercurrent to the proceedings, every month.


    1. The Nocturna arc definitely goes on too long and is capital P purple prose, but it will always have a place in my heart. I think Nocturna could be updated and made a great villain. It would be nice to have a female Bat villain that isn’t totally insane.

      The sexual undertones of this arc are super weird though, which I totally missed as a kid.

  4. This was certainly an issue I never expected to see covered on Fire & Water network.

    My thoughts on the run as a whole and not just this issue:

    I was ok with the early part of Moench’s run, but by this time it was tanking for me. Batman was what got me into comics and I collected him religiously since Batman 283, the first comic I ever bought. At the time, I thought the Moench run was the worst I had ever encountered, although it would later be “bottomed” by Miller, Collins and Starlin. I think both Conway and Moench’s run sometimes drew stories out longer than necessary to justify the “one Batman book published bi-weekly” stance. Unfortunately, that would get worse in the future as well. Really, if a character has more than one book, I’m not a fan of the same writer doing every book. If you don’t like one writer’s take on your favorite character, if there is another writer on another book, you can still enjoy that character there.

    I was 14 at the time this book came out, and at that time, I was usually the more female characters; all the merrier. However, the female characters during the era of Batman, save one, weren’t appealing to me. Bruce dating Julia had all kinds of ick factor since she was Alfred’s daughter. Plus, she was such a bland character. (As you can probably guess from my screen name, if I were going to crush on one of Alfred’s relative’s, it would have been his niece, Daphne.) Vicki Vale was just a Lois rip-off with none of the characteristics that made Lois appealing. Really, I was wondering, even at the time, why doesn’t Bruce just get with Catwoman? She’s awesome! B&B 197 and Len Wein’s run definitely turned me into a Batman/Catwoman shipper.

    Wasn’t it weird that Bruce blindfolded Selina before showing her the statue? I thought the Conway run established that Selina knew Bruce and Batman were the same person.

    I enjoyed Nocturna’s first three parter, and can see that Nocturna had great potential as a character based on it, but the bit with Jason wanting to be her mom was weird. In her later arc, which drug on WAY too long, that seemed to be the only aspect to her character. There is a part of me that thinks Jason may have wanted Nocturna to adopt him because he was attracted to her. I was probably around the age Jason was supposed to be when I read this, and at that age hormones sometimes (ok, often) get the better of us. Jason’s attraction to Nocturna isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Why did Nocturna want to adopt Jason, though? It doesn’t really fit with the Nocturna character from her first arc. While I wasn’t a fan of Nocturna’s character during this time, I admit that panel of her on the top of the last page was seared into my 14 year old brain, but then having Jason say “Mom” after seeing such a non-maternal cheesecake image of her….just weird.

    Finally, was anyone else disappointed that Len Wein wasn’t writing the book himself, since he was the editor? I was, even back then. I absolutely adored his run with Irv Novick on Batman and consider it the last great Batman run until Grant and Breyfogle came along.

  5. I am in the same camp with Chris and Gothosmansion regarding Nocturna and Moench’s Batman tales. My Bat-enjoyment was diminishing every month back then. I also do not like Mandrake’s art. Not even a little. This book became a real slog. I would have sworn that I had dropped the title around the time of this book, but I just checked my archives (!) and I kept buying for more than a year! I think the thing I disliked most, and still dislike now but I am better able to articulate it, was the theme of Batman’s love life. Moench made such a focus of it, as shown in this issue. It has long been my contention that Batman should not have a love life! Bruce Wayne can have a love life, but Batman is disciplined and focused on the particular task at hand. He should not be flirting or open to be seduced or any other carnal desire while in costume. Would Batman be distracted by anything else? “Two-Face is probably going to attack at the double header scheduled at the ballpark. Hmm, how’s Lefty’s ERA these days? Is he still having problems with runners on base?” “This new aviary exhibit at the arboretum makes a tempting target for the Penguin. Oh, that’s a nice use of sustainable materials! I wonder if I could redesign the lobby of the Wayne Foundation that way?” “This thief is a woman. And she’s hot!” Batman is not irredeemable.

  6. Hey guys, thanks, it was fun listening to your thoughts about Batman #389. So much detail…more than I remembered 🙂 That was my first run on the title and working with Doug and Len was an awesome experience. I’ll agree with those who state that Doug is a most underrated Bat-writer!


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