Friday, January 20, 2012
Well, Nocturna is one of the reasons that I love Detective Comics. Mileage may vary for other Batman fans.
Nocturna was a supporting character in the pages of "Batman" and "Detective Comics" in the 1980s. She was a romantic interest for both Batman and Bruce Wayne. And, much like Catwoman, Nocturna was sometimes an ally and sometimes a super-villainess in her own right.
She appeared on and off from her first appearance in Detective Comics #529 in 1983 until Batman #391 (with a cover date of January 1986), where she was stabbed by the Night Slayer (her former lover and partner-in-crime) and, as she was (presumably) bleeding to death, Robin put her a balloon and she floated away.
And she never came back.
And that was what made it SO AWSOME!
She was an astronomer named Natalia Knight. She had an accident or a disease or something that made her skin turn white and she was unable to withstand direct sunlight. So she becamse an astronomer and also, under cover of night, she ran a little gang of thieves.
Nocturna eventually ran into both Bruce Wayne and Batman. Batman suspected she was up to something, but he couldn't quite prove it. And a little later on, there was a subplot where Nocturna tried to get custody of Jason Todd, who had become Robin after his trapeze-artist parents were eaten by alligators. (Ah, the perils of a Gotham City childhood! The DC Universe probably has a reality show called "Growing Up Gotham." And it's absolutely horrible, but you can't look away.)
(This is sweet Jason Todd, not the evil Jason Todd who was beaten to death by the Joker and got better and became the Red Hood for some reason.)
The Batman comics in the 1980s were so much fun. There were only four! (In addition to "Batman" and Detective Comics, there was also World's Finest and The Brave and the Bold.) Continuity was pretty tight between Detective Comics and "Batman." (Not so much in the other two.) It was almost like a comic book that came out twice a month instead of two monthly comics.
And with the addition of Nocturna, it was a giddy little soap opera. And a political thriller as well! The reason the city authorities were trying to take Jason Todd away from Bruce Wayne was politically motivated. You see, Bruce Wayne had supported Commissioner Gordon to stay on the job, defying the mayor (I think he was Mayor Hill), and the mayor used his pull with Child Welfare to get Jason Todd taken away from Wayne Manor.
And Jason went along with it! (You see, he had his own little plan to keep an eye on Nocturna in his Robin identity because he knew Batman suspected her of bring involved with a ring of thieves.)
And sometimes Catwoman showed up, more than a little suspicious of all the interest Batman was showing in Nocturna.
And then there was Vicki Vale, Bruce Wayne's girlfriend, who was a news photographer who was always snooping around and getting into dangerous situations.
Oh, and Alfred's daughter, Julia Pennyworth, showed up and started hanging around Wayne Manor where she was always on the verge of finding out Bruce Wayne's secret.
Yeah, it was a glorious mess. Written by Doug Moench, with art by Gene Colan and Don Newton and, later, Pat Broderick, those years were the last gasp of the Bronze Age, the last days of the Batman before The Crisis on Infinite Earths changed everything.
It was a lot of fun.
I have to say, I really miss Nocturna somtimes.
But at the same time, I hope they never bring her back.