Batman #412 (October, 1987)
“The Sound of Silence”
Writer – Max Allan Collins
Penciller – Dave Cockrum
Inker – Don Heck
Letterer – Agustin Mas
Colorist – Adrienne Roy
Editor – Denny O’Neil
Cover Price: $0.75
Back to the 80’s with a little bit of post-Crisis post-Year One Batman. This issue stood out to me, first because I thought this Mime character was a new incarnation of my ol’ favorite Magpie. Sadly, no… this is not her.
It’s Sunday morning and after a long night patrolling the streets of Gotham, Batman and Robin settle in for their weekly ritual of listening to the bells of St. Martin’s Cathedral… however, on this morning there is no gong! Batman informs his young sidekick that there’s still work to be done tonight… er, morning. They pop into the Cathedral and meet with a priest in the bell tower. Robin drops down to see what’s wrong with the bell and comes to find that “somebody copped the clapper!”.
The dynamic duo take their leave, only to see the Bat-signal hazily hanging in the morning sky. They head off to meet with Commissioner Gordon… who tells them about a string of church bell vandalism! Am I watching the Adam West show here… how weird is that?
We shift scenes to later in the evening. A mime is performing in the street… like the middle of the street. It appears as though she’s doing the “robot” and is doing quite well for herself if her tip-hat is any indication. For a minute here, I feared she had some sort of Mime-Control powers… har har.
Ahem, anyhoo… like I said, she’s performing in the middle of a busy street… and as such, traffic is rather backed up at the moment. This draws the attention of Batman and Robin who are on their, previously quiet, patrol. A cabbie pulls up to the Mime and starts givin’ her the business. So she straight up shoots him! Bad ass. You’d never guess this was the fella who wrote another one of my 80’s faves, Wild Dog, right?
Batman and Robin swing into the scene, and the former gives chase to our Ms. Mime while the latter ensures the cabbie gets proper medical attention. Batman does his best Neal-Adams-drawing-Batman pose while booking into the park. It’s not long before he catches up with his face-painted target, and she submissively gives up. She puts on her frowny face and sits down in the dirt… and, get this… Batman shows her mercy. Bad move, Bats… this broad’s packin’ 10K volts!
This next scene is just too much. The cabbie, who (somehow) only suffered a shoulder wound is brought into the police station to look at a line-up… of clowns… and clown-alikes. We shift into Jim Gordon’s office, and see Batman lounging on the couch… with his legs crossed. How awesome is that?
The next day we watch as Bruce Wayne heads to the offices of Vue magazine where one Vicki Vale works. He tells her that he’s considering running some theater… Mime theater! To do so, he needs to get the skinny on the somewhat famous lady-mime Camilla Cameo, who Vale had recently done a series of articles on.
Bruce gets all learnt up and shares his newfound knowledge with his young ward… and us! Ya see, Ms. Cameo’s father was Oscar Ortin, the “fireworks king”. She “rebelled” by devoting her life to quieter things, such as ballet… and mime. This was all well and good until the “political climate” changed and less money went to the arts.
Batman concludes that the Mime’s next target will be a noisy rock ‘n roll show featuring a band who is named Blister Twister (gross) and looks a lot like KISS. They are apparently a heavy metal Simon and Garfunkel cover band… ay yai yai. Anyhoo… The Mime is there.
The Mime cuts the power to the stage, and then runs about zapping the geeks in the band with her “juice” hand. The crowd all thinks this is part of the show… but they ain’t impressed. After all, Alice Cooper is bloodier.
Finally Batman swings in. Knowing she’s outta luck, she does the whole frowny-face thing again. Batman’s learned his lesson… once shocked, twice shy.
The Mime grabs a nearby guitar and wields it like an… ax… get it? Luckily Robin is nearby to throw the power switch back to the “on” position causing a raucous amount of feedback to bleed from the guitar. Now the crowd is into it! C’mon, ya call dat music?
Shortly, the Twisted Blister… Blister Twister… whoever they are resume their horrific set. The Mime is led away in handcuffs… and we get the piece de resistance when an officer informs her that she has “the right to remain silent” wonk wonk wonkkkk…
This was such an odd time for Batman. I mean, here we are just months after Frank Miller shook things up with Year One… and we get a markedly lighter Batman and Robin story here. Like, Batman smiles… more than once! That’s weird, right?
Maybe this was an inventory story that meant to see print much earlier. Jason Todd isn’t nearly as big’a tool as he would be in the march to his death… instead he comes across not unlike a young Dick Grayson. He speaks with alliteration and just sounds goofy. Not a bad goofy… just goofy.
We hear about the Mime’s career going south when the “political climate changed”. This is 1987… seven years into the Reagan presidency… which I’m guessing is what he’s alluding to… wouldn’t this have happened much earlier? Not sure… I could be speaking out of my ass here… just really feels like this should have occurred pre-Crisis.
The premise here is that there’s a mime girl who wanted everything to be silent… because, get this, her father worked in the noisy fireworks industry. Yup, this is all to get back at daddy… almost fitting, such a silly motivation for this silly story. I do dig the character design for the Mime… It’s rather striking in that late 80’s post-punk sort of way.
While on the subject… really enjoyed Dave Cockrum on art here. I must subconsciously associate him with X-Men, and X-Men only that I forget how much work he’d done for DC.
A fun issue, and a novel look at the lighter side of Batman. I really enjoyed my time with this one, and would be interesting in checking out more from this era.
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