Batman #339 (September, 1981)
“A Sweet Kiss of Poison…”
Writer – Gerry Conway
Artists – Irv Novick & Steve Mitchell
Letterer – Ben Oda
Colorist – Adrienne Roy
Editor – Dick Giordano
Cover Price: $0.50
This is an era of Batman that I know very little about. My Batman knowledge begins around the time of the 1989 film. I jumped on during a three-parter called “The Penguin Affair”, so maybe it was closer to Batman Returns.
Batman is one of the books in my collection where I don’t really have very long “runs”. I tire of the character easier than others, and find myself dropping in and out. My longest stay on the title was around the turn of the century with the “New Gotham” stories, Officer Down, Bruce Wayne: Murderer?/Fugitive and into Hush. I dropped out around Infinite Crisis when Jason Todd came back, popped back in for Morrison’s run, and have mostly kept on with the New-52 volume. Batman (read: not Detective Comics, Batman & Robin, etc.) is the only Batman solo that I keep up with, as it’s just so costly to collect them all.
Today we’re going to discuss a book that came out when I wasn’t even two-years old. Goes without saying, this is not one I grabbed off the shelf.
Batman arrives home, and is experiencing a terrible bout of fatigue. It appears that Bruce is living in a penthouse in the Wayne Foundation building at this point in his career, which is certainly odd to see. Bruce is trying to balance his day-life as “Prominent Business Leader” (no longer “Ne’er-do-well Playboy”) Bruce Wayne and his night-job as the Batman.
Bruce decides to retire to bed for a few hours before his 9:00am board meeting. In the meeting, Bruce is having trouble keeping up with the conversation, and appears to be ignoring questions from the board members. Bruce adjourns the meeting early, claiming to be “not at his best”, and decides they will reconvene the next morning. Bruce’s assistant, Lucius Fox recommends he take off a couple of months to recharge… which goes about as well as once can imagine.
Later that day, Bruce is having lunch with Mayoral candidate Hamilton. Hamilton is trying to procure Wayne’s endorsement, but Bruce is having none of it. One of Hamilton’s platforms concerns the removal and replacement of Commissioner Gordon from the Police Department.
A woman with long brown hair strolls by, and plants a kiss on Bruce. She claims to have mistaken him for someone else. We follow the woman out to her car, where she removes her wig revealing herself to be Poison Ivy. She has a list of names she is checking off one by one, including Bruce Wayne’s.
That night, Batman is at the Gotham Waterfront looking to intervene on a smuggling drop when he goes into a catatonic state. He walks across town as though he were a sleepwalker, and arrives at the Ambassador Theatre. Before he enters, he observes a grouping of members of the Wayne Foundation board have also arrived. He ducks into a room to change out of his Batman gear, and connects with his board members.
None of them know why they have been summoned here, and they are beckoned inside. On the stage is a wooden desk, and… Poison Ivy. She reveals that she kissed all of them earlier that day wearing lipstick that contained a hypnotic drug. She orders the men to sign a document… a document that would sign all of the assets of the Wayne Foundation over to her.
All of the members, including Wayne himself sign the document. Before leaving, Ivy orders the men to keep this secret. If they tried, her hypnotic suggestion would cause the words to choke in their throats.
Bruce changes back into Batman knowing this is his only opportunity to reclaim the document. Ivy does not know that when she kissed Bruce Wayne she was also kissing (and had hypnotic control over) the Batman.
Batman attacks, and is surprised to be hit with a torrent of poison thorn darts. Batman falls to the stage, spraining his ankle. Ivy then throws a vine around Batman’s throat, and tells hims she will release it if he lets her kiss him. Batman refuses, and Ivy flees. Batman just so happens to have a vial of “defoliant” in his utility belt that does the trick in removing the vine.
Batman escapes to the Batcave, which is now under the Wayne Foundation building and calls Commissioner Gordon to check in. At the waterfront, the smugglers apparently abandoned the cargo, which Batman reports. He tries to continue to tell Jim about his encounter with Ivy when… the words choke in his throat! He is unable to tell Gordon what happened, and we are [to be continued…]
Following the main story, there is a backup tale that serves as something of an origin revisit for Robin (Dick Grayson). Not much new here, although there is a cameo from Cleveland Brand, the brother of Boston Brand (Deadman). He is wearing the Deadman costume, and watches Dick’s trapeze act. I never knew Deadman had a brother… who used the same gimmick. Interesting.
This was an interesting issue, all said. It was a Batman/Bruce Wayne that is somewhat new to me. I had never seen Wayne as a serious executive, and operating out of the Wayne Foundation building. This was a fun not-to-serious romp, a breath of fresh air when compared to the Batman we have been reading in recent decades. This was a silly Poison Ivy story, where she was able to control Batman via her “hypnotic lipstick”. There’s nothing wrong with that!
The writing was solid… it’s Gerry Conway, after all. There isn’t much he’s written that I don’t like, Irv Novick has a great, clean style. His handling of both Bruce and Batman are great.
Only thing bad about this issue, is that I’m going to have to track down the next one to see what happens. Recommended read if you’re looking for a Batman story that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and at the same time isn’t too goofy.
|Wouldn’t be a book of this vintage without an ad for GRIT!|
|Wouldn’t be a book of this vintage without a Hostess Ad!
“Creamed filling” always sounded gross to me.