Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Retro Review: Batman #323 (1980) - "The Shadow of the Cat"

Writer: Len Wein
Art by: Irv Novick, Bob Smith, and Glynis Wein
Cover Price: 40¢
Release Date: April 30th, 1980
Review by: Joey Casco
Please go check out Joey's awesome site 
In Batman #322, Captain Boomerang came to Gotham looking to get revenge on Gregorian Falstaff for losing his retirement money on the stock market. After some hilarious and fun fighting, Captain Boomerang's boomerang and Batman's Batarang collide... with the Batarang shattering the boomerang, and giving Batman the opportunity to take out the Captain. Meanwhile, Selina Kyle had hung up her cat-cape only to be diagnosed with a terminal illness that will take her life within the month. A mixture of herbs known to the ancient Egyptians is the only cure, but that recipe is long lost. The issue ends with the burglary of an Egyptian exhibit at the Riverside Museum, and the thief appears to be Catwoman herself.

Batman #323 begins with Batman attempting to arrest Selina Kyle in her apartment. At this point in time, Bruce and Selina are bumping uglies. They're even using the "L" word so I guess you could say things are getting serious. Bruce knows that Selina was Catwoman and Selina knows that Bruce knows, but Selina doesn't know that Bruce is Batman. So when Batman just swings himself right into Selina's living room, it doesn't go very well. He informs her of the burglary and that he has to take her in even if she's innocent, and Selina, who is denying involvement, is not having any of it.

She escapes using the same rope that Batman used to swing in on, and she's gone!
Bruce shows up for work the next day and we're introduced to a new character outside of his office. His usual secretary Gwen is off on "personal business" and has been temporarily replaced with Caroline Crown. After being introduced, Caroline admits to herself that she wants a piece of that fine batass. Mmm-mmm!
Catwoman, fully clothed in her cat costume, is waiting for Bruce in his office. She needs help and resources and doesn't know where else to turn. He tries to convince her to turn herself in and he'll hire the best lawyers and detectives to clear her, and she even says "No! You sound just like the Batman!" Ooooh girl, if you only knew! She sprays him with some catnip laced with something that causes sneezing fits, and she's gone!

That night both Bruce and Selina suit up. Catwoman shakes down a pawn shop owner named Pinch for information, while Batman goes to the Riverside Museum to investigate the burglary. He finds a thread and brings it back to the Batcave to be analyzed. The world's greatest detective figures out the location of the thief by analyzing the dust on a piece of fiber. Not the fiber itself, but the dust.
Both Batman and Catwoman find themselves at an import/export company that has old underground tunnels underneath it from prohibition. Selina starts walking the tunnel and thinks she's alone until Batman saves her from a booby-trap. They go at it for a few frames until her illness impairs her with a terrible migraine. With Batman trying to help, she takes the opportunity and gives him a double axe handle to the face (the wrestling move, not an actual axe handle), then runs off... only to set off the same booby-trap that Batman saved her from. Poisonous gas fills the room, and Batman uses the gas-filter he keeps in his utility belt to get them both to another part of the tunnel. But the floor beneath them is a trapped door, and they fall into a giant net made from cables covered in polymer adhesive so they can't move.
A voice from off the frame says "The appropriate opening line ought to be 'Welcome to my parlor! Don't you agree?". They look up to see the antagonist they've been looking for, and the issue ends with his reveal.

Bits and Pieces:
I like that Bruce refuses to give up on Selina, as he tries to reason with her with every opportunity he gets; even when she's attacking him. I have no idea how this Pinch guy knew where to find what Selina was looking for and I wish that was explained. Overall this wasn't nearly as good as the last issue and it's not nearly as good as the next one, but it's also not bad. Most importantly it does what it's supposed to do: set up for the arc finale.


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