Monday, March 24, 2014

Because Gotham needed another mysterious lady-thief...

Every so often, Batman writers want to create a new villain, rather than using the Penguin or Joker again. Sometimes it works, sometimes, eh. From 1983, Batman #363, "Elegant Night Crimes" Written by Doug Moench, art by Don Newton, inks by Alfredo Alcala.

Batman is being clowned by a burglar hitting high society types, even more so when the thief hits a party at Wayne Mansion! Which also ruins Bruce's game, as he hits on the new lady in town, the mysteriously pale Natasha Knight. As Lucius Fox explains to Bruce later, she had been in an laser accident at her observatory, that had caused her to lose her pigmentation. That aside, she's also a gold-digging nutbag, an orphan raised by a gangster and addicted to luxury.

Further complicating the issue, Nocturna isn't the thief: that's the gangster's son, who met her at the funeral, and conveniently had spent a good deal of time in the Orient learning pretty impressive combat and stealth techniques. In the dark, the Nightslayer (Or Night-Thief, Thief of Night, or Anton) is almost a match for Batman, who finally resorts to turning on the lights to beat his ass. Nocturna escapes, via a balloon she had at her observatory...

The villains aren't the scariest thing this issue; there's also the early look of Jason Todd, pre-Crisis. And I know Nocturna would adopt (officially or unofficially) Jason, and the Nightslayer would escalate from a thief into a psycho-killer (because that's what Batman villains do) but most of that would be wiped post-Crisis. There's just too much going on here: it's a good name and a good look, but tries too hard.

I know the most recent cartoon version, Beware the Batman wanted to use villains that hadn't been animated before, and went with Magpie, Anarky, and Professor Pyg and Mr. Toad. Nocturna has yet to get her time in the limelight, although there had been plans to use her as a vampire in Batman: the Animated Series, but they fell through. (Which seems a simpler and more elegant solution, if a bit pat.) And now she's set to turn up in the New 52 in Batwoman. I can't say there couldn't be a good story with Nocturna, but I'm not sure it's happened yet.

1 comment:

Susan said...

This is right around the time I started reading Batman comics (got my first ones in 1984, when I was 10), so I remember the Nocturna/Night Thief storylines pretty well, and I loved the issues near the end with the blind girl who thought Anton was Batman. Hokey...yes. Heavy on the soap opera...yes. Awesome way to hook a little kid on comics...YES!