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22. Gerry Conway
Gerry Conway came on to the Bat-titles full-time in 1981 with a novel idea, to use both Batman and Detective as if they were, in effect, just one combined title that just came out twice a month. It’s basically the same approach that Marvel did on Amazing Spider-Man with Howard Mackie and more recently with Dan Slott (DC did a variation of it with their Superman titles, although those were multiple writers just working in concert – Mike Carlin was a hell of an editor to have made sense of that approach for so many years). Conway’s first major epic was this fascinating and complex narrative based on the return of Rupert Thorne, who decides to control Gotham’s politics from behind the scenes and ends up with Commisioner Gordon losing his job. At the same time, Vicki Vale comes back into Bruce Wayne’s life, only she’s now more adamant than ever about learning Batman’s secret identity. Conway also brought Dick Grayson back as Robin on a more regular basis (he also returned Batman to the Bat-Cave). Commissioner Gordon got more character development under Conway’s pen than he had received in the previous forty years’ worth of appearances.
Here’s an example of all the plot lines that Conway was juggling at once…
After his Thorne epic finished, Conway told one last big storyline involving the introductions of Killer Croc and Jason Todd (plus the deaths of Todd’s parents).
21. Len Wein
Len Wein had been writing one or two Batman issues here and there for EIGHT YEARS (including the last story before Steve Englehart’s Detective Comics run and the issues after Englehart tying up any loose ends Englehart left) before he finally took over as the regular Batman writer in 1979. Wein’s run was a compelling mixture between action and character-driven work. Character-wise, this run is likely best known for introducing us to Lucius Fox and for re-introducing Catwoman into the Bat-books as a regular supporting cast member.
Wein also wrote a tremendous mini-series detailing Batman’s history, something that was, at the time, quite novel (now stories recapping characters’ origins happen all the time) with John Byrne and Jim Aparo (WOW!) working together on art…
Wein set the title up nicely for Gerry Conway’s run on the book. Wein also has a special piece in Batman lore as being the first writer to have Batman vanish on Commissioner Gordon (in the pages of Swamp Thing, of all places!).
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