Sunday, October 7, 2018

Retro Review: Batman #417 (1988) - "Ten Nights of the Beast!"

You Will Lose

Written by: Jim Starlin
Art by: Jim Aparo, Mike DeCarlo, Adrienne Roy, and John Costanza
Cover Price: 75¢
Release Date: March 1988

I figured that since KGBeast has shown up in the current Batman run, I'd go back to review his first appearance.  I like KGBeast and am not in the camp of him just being a Russian Bane and hopefully, these issues will prove that.  So, let's jump into the first issue…

We open the issue with our first look at KGBeast.  We still don't know anything about him, but within a couple of pages he wipes out a handful of DEA agents without breaking a sweat or even putting down his luggage.  That is badass!

We continue with Jim Starlin using a KGB Agent to tell the story of the Beast and it comes off as part horror story, part tall tale with a little bit of a parable mixed in for good measure.  

Oh crap, he knows the Dim Mak!
Batman and Robin are listening in and the thing that stuck with me is the idea that KGBeast is such an issue for both sides that the worst of enemies will look past years of Cold War trouble to try to stop him.

After some more origin story that again makes KGBeast come off as an ultimate badass, we find out why he was in Gotham with a few days to kill...he is trying to ruin the strategic defense initiative otherwise known as "Star Wars".  If you are old enough to get the dated reference here, I tip my hat to you!

We continue by seeing a bit of the Beast's handiwork and it made me laugh in a macabre way when we are told that a man decapitated with the old  piano string across the street trick  was originally written off by the GCPD as a teenage prank.  What's next, the shot the guy in the face prank?

Don't lose your...motorcycle!
Afterward, we see that two of the ten potential targets are dead, the FBI is in the house and Batman is off to save the third target.  Batman does his best to save the man, Jason Greene, but the Beast got to him first.  I did like the way Starlin shows a quick thinking Batman doesn't always win 100% of the time, but the star of the scene (and book itself) is the wonderful S&M gimp outfit that KGBeast shows up in.  Instant classic!!!

The Total Package!
The issue ends with some more information about KGBeast that could be the key to Batman finding the Big Bad, a big wink wink at who is next on the hit list and Batman going about his business like the old joke about the bull who walks down into the field of cows instead of running.

Next time we are taking the stairs!
I really thought this issue would feel a lot more dated than it actually did.  Yea, the KGB, Star Wars and decapitation pranks are not as popular today, but the cool introduction of a kick-ass villain never goes out of style.  Plus, if you squint a little, you can imagine this is just Ivan Drago vs Rocky all over again...for the first time!  I have really fallen in love with Jim Aparo's art and I give him a big tip of the cap for that KGBeast look.  That took balls...big balls!  The only real downer is this is a lot of set up, but that makes sense since it is the first issue of a four issue story.

Bits and Pieces:

The first appearance of the KGBeast doesn't disappoint and while it is fun to see Batman face off with his bad guys in a battle of wits, I also enjoy a mano a mano and that's what is being set up here.  I just need KGBeast to say "If he dies, he dies" and my life will be complete.



  1. Would be great if DC Universe had the foresight to include old comic stories that tied into things happening in their current books. Especially since the writers' aren't filling us in.