RandoMonday: Batman #419

Here’s a comic chosen at random from my collection.

Batman #419 by Jim Starlin (writer), Jim Aparo (penciler), Mike DeCarlo (inker), Adrienne Roy (colorist), John Costanza (letterer), Denny O’Neil (editor), and Mike Zeck (cover)

Ahh, the KGBeast: the Russian assassin with a hokey name, awful costume (I can’t decide if it’s too much S&M or just enough), but the skills to give Batman a run for his money. This four-part story involves the KGBeast killing a bunch of people in Gotham, including, as the penultimate page reveals, then President Ronald Reagan. Something I noticed about this issue when reading it for this spotlight is just how bloody it is. The KGBeast blows up a plane on page one, supposedly killing two people, then he blows up two others in a hotel room, next he kills an FBI agent by dropping a cinder block on his head, then chops up some cops with an axe, and finally cuts off his own hand to prevent Batman from capturing him. Artists Aparo and Roy do a good job of indicating the blood without going over the top. Plus, it’s always a pleasure to see Aparo’s Batman.

Back in 1988 when I first read this story, I thought the KGBeast was a bit of a joke despite the serious whacking and stacking going on in this storyline, but I realize now that the ‘Beast is really no different than Two-Face or the Penguin–he’s just a guy with a hokey name and bad attitude. However, he did spawn a protege called the NKVDemon a couple years later, and the ‘Beast showed up on the New 52 DCU in the Future’s End Grayson issue. He wasn’t so hokey this time.

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