DETECTIVE COMICS #511

(FEBRUARY 1982)

BATMAN 'TWIXT REALITY AND ILLUSION
ADRIENNE ROY COLOURS THEM BOTH

"The 'I' of the Beholder"
(27 pages)

Cover pencils - Rich Buckler
Cover inks -
Dick Giordano
Cover colouring - Anthony Tollin

Story - Gerry Conway
Art - Don Newton
Inks - Frank Chiaramonte
Colours - Adrienne Roy
Lettering - John Costanza
Editor - Dick Giordano

Second feature - none

Letters page - "Batcave" (1 page)

 

PLOT SUMMARY

Following a heated election campain councilman Arthur Reeves is defeated by Hamilton Hillin Gotham City's mayoral election. Robin is thrilled and feels Reeves got what he deserved for his smear campaign against Batman, but Bruce Wayne is more cautious in his verdict as he feels that the way Reeves lost - with the exposure of "his" Batman photographs as fakes - looks almost as though someone deliberately set Reeves up for the fall...

 
At the same time, at the Raytona Raceway, three drunken men poke fun at a hooded figure who calls himself 'Mirage'. On his wrist, a gem begins to sparkle, and next the three men find themselves in the midst of a jungle face to face with a wild lion...

Reality is twisted again by Mirage as he picks up the cash receipts from today's race, making the cashier believe he's somewhere in the wilderness.

Back outside by the racetrack, photographer Vicki Vale finds herself subjected to Mirage's reality shifting but - photographer's instinct - keeps on taking pictures of what she perceives to be a giant ice bear amidst a frozen landscape. However, when she has her pictures developed, none show what she believed to see at the racetrack.

At the newspaper editor's office, Bruce Wayne overhears the conversation Vicki Vale has with her employer, and her account of the mysterious events at the racetrack arouse his interest - whilst he also muses about the fact that as soon as Selina Kayle walks out of his life, Vicki Vale seemingly walks back in.

 
 
Meanwhile, Dick Grayson has enrolled at Gotham University and visits the campus, where he literally walks into a most impressive female named Dala (who will soon be revealed to be a major threat for the Dynamic Duo).

Later that evening, at the Wayne Foundation, Bruce Wayne is working late to sort things back into order again after Poison Ivy had previously enacted a mind control scheme over the board of directors, but seeing the Bat-Signal light up, Bruce ushers Lucius Fox home, telling him that he will make an important announcement to the board tomorrow. Elsewhere in town, councilman Reeves storms into the office of the person who gave him the fake photographs claiming to prove Batman's secret identity - and finds that said person is none other than "Boss" Rupert Thorne.

 

 

  The Bat-Signal call has to do with Mirage, who has since used his power to broadcast incredibly realistic illusions for committing further thefts. As Dick Grayson attends a publicity show staged by a fashion designer, he becomes witness to yet another Mirage robbery - and swings into action as Robin, the Teen Wonder.

However, he finds that he cannot stand up to Mirage and his illusions, and together with Batman, who also experienced illusional sensations, analyzes the facts back at the Batcave.

Arriving at the conclusion that Mirage's illusions are created by audio und visual wave stimulations, blocking their hearing for the next encounter seems the best way to take Mirage out.

 
Batman's tactics prove their worth and during his next robbery, Mirage is brought down by the Darknight Detective - however, only partly due to Batman's deafening device, which receives a blow during the fight with Mirage and is smashed to pieces.
 

 
In the end, it is Batman's willpower and sheer determination which have him - albeit now again unprotected against the illusions created by Mirage - gain the upper hand.
 

  The next morning, Bruce Wayne informs the board of the Wayne Foundation that he is stepping down as chairman and appoints Lucius Fox as his successor.

This step, as he later explains to Dick, became necessary as "Bruce Wayne's business life was jeopardizing the Batman."

"DON'T MISS BATMAN #345 - ENTER: DOCTOR DEATH !"

 

REVIEW & ANALYSIS

Whilst not telling a truly classic Batman story, Detective Comics #511 contains a whole heap of reading interest, and Gerry Conway virtually fires on all cylinders as he has Batman encounter a strange and mysterious new foe, Bruce Wayne meet up with Vicki Vale again, Dick Grayson being back on campus without quitting his post as Teen Wonder and encountering a strangely attractive woman, councilman Reeves discovering that his downfall was manufactured by "Boss" Thorne, and finally Bruce Wayne stepping down as head of the Wayne Foundation and appointing Lucius Fox as his successor... most certainly a tremendous lot of story and plot content cum characterization. And it's a perfectly entertaining read, too.

 
A number of incidents occuring in Detective Comics #511 will only reveal their true importance and meaning in issues yet to come, and this is where Conway is at his best, placing props all over the place and setting up complex sub-plots for future storylines. It is done with great perfection and nestled within a completely smooth narrative.

His characterization is just as strong, as he has Batman point out to Commissioner Gordon - who is faced by a campaign pledge from the newly elect mayor to have him replaced - that Gordon is more of a fixture of Gotham City than the Caped Crusader. And Don Newton delivers the perfect visual rendition for this ponderous moment.

 
 
Gerry Conway also provides us with a telling piece of Batman characterization as the device he wears to block out the sonic waves sent out by Mirage to create his illusions is rendered useless during the fight. As the Darknight Detective finds himself stripped of technological aid, he falls back to his core strength: determination and willpower.
 

 

  And although it requires an incredible effort, it works. Almost in a nutshell Conway thus nicely sums up what really makes Batman so special as a persona and a pop culture ideal: Batman could - stretching the imagination juuuust a bit more than usual - be real; there's nothing superhuman about Bruce Wayne, and Batman is the product not of radioactivity or magic or extraterrestrial doings, but simply a conglomerate of dedication, determination and willpower (plus money, of course).

Don Newton supplies the quality artwork readers of previous issues have come to expect from him, and his renditions of night scenes in general and the Batman in specific are just absolutely perfect.

VERDICT: RECOMMENDED READING - interesting and solid story with a whole web of multiple sub-plot strands, all put together ever so smoothly, and accompanied by excellent Batman artwork

 

FACTS & FIGURES

There is no second feature in this issue due to the overlong Batman story running for a a full 27 pages.

The story contains concise indications with regard to the location of Gotham City as the Raytona Racecourse is said to be "across the river, in New Jersey".

Vicki Vale was a regular Golden Age backup character but was dropped by then newly appointed edior Julius Schwartz in 1964. She returned in Batman #344 (February 1982), and this is her first appearance in Detective Comics since issue #320 (October 1963).

 



Adrienne Roy c.2009
2011
TwoMorrows Publishing

  Detective Comics #511 is coloured by Adrienne Roy (who had previously already provided the colouring for Detective Comics #481-498 and #500-509), and as of this issue she became the regular in-house colourist for the title up until Detective Comics #684 (April 1995), missing only issues #554, #568, #579, #588 and #651 during that entire run of 174 issues which lasted for more than 13 years.

Adrienne Roy was born 28 June 1953, grew up in Verona (New Jersey) and graduated from William Paterson University (New Jersey) as a Fine Artist. Her first contact with comic books was through Marvel's Tomb of Dracula, Sub-Mariner and Conan (Eury, 2011). In 1976 Roy married Anthony Tollin and moved to New York City, initially working as an assistant of her husband before long-time colourist Jack Adler gave Roy her first consignment at DC with the cover of DC Special Series #8. Adler and fellow colourist Sol Harrison were considered by Roy herself as her mentors during her first years at DC (Eury, 2011).

She soon became a fixture for the entire Batman line under editor (and later DC President and Publisher) Paul Levitz. Roy was the only DC freelancer with her own desk in the company’s Manhattan offices, and she was the first colourist signed by DC to exclusive, multi-year employment contracts (Tollin, 2010).

 

“Adrienne combined the ability of a set designer to create beauty with the ability of a lighting designer to create drama and storytelling focus, and wrapped it in a sweet professionalism. No wonder we editors chose her again and again, keeping her on favorite titles like Batman literally for decades.” (Paul Levitz in Tollin, 2010)

 
Roy was also responsible for the coloring on many other titles during that time period (including The New Teen Titans, Warlord, Weird War Tales and Madame Xanadu) but is above all known for her work on the Batman books, including a lengthy run on Detective Comics which she started with issue #480 (Nov/Dec 1978).

The typical comic book look - up until the mid-1990s - of limited colours displaying a rather washed-out appearance with reduced contrast separation was due to two main factors: the so-called "Subtractive Primaries Colour Printing" or "Four Colour Process" (CMYK for short), and the fact that more often than not the paper used for printing comics was of inferior quality; known as newsprint, it was used primarily for its low cost factor and its high absorbency, which was well suited to rubber plates used on high-speed offset presses (a job which DC consigned to World Color Press in Sparta, Illinois).

The production process of newsprint paper results in very short fibres and high levels of lignin, which rapidly discolour and oxidise - in other words: the paper used for comic books was hardly ever actually white. The problem with this was - subtractive colour printing works best when the paper is white...

The CMYK printing process produces the necessary varying colors by applying the so-called subtractive primaries Cyan (blue), Magenta (purple) and Yellow. Mixing yellow and cyan produces green colours, whilst yellow mixed with magenta results in reds and magenta with cyan in blues. Mixing equal amounts of cyan, magenta and yellow in sufficient density produces black, but in order to save ink and decrease drying times black is used as the fourth colour pigment for the so-called "key" (hence the letter K) printing plate, which prints the artistic detail of an image (Ferry, 1921).

A four-colour printing press therefore uses four printing plates - one for each colour separation - wrapped around a cylinder and inked with the relevant colour. As paper passes through the press, the cyan, magenta, yellow and black separations are printed one on top of the other. This can produce a wide range of colours by combining different tints of the four inks as colours are split into so-called "component separations".

In applying this system, a full red colour can be described as being the result of 0% cyan, 100% magenta, 100% yellow and 0% black, whereas a medium blue separates as 100% cyan, 50% magenta, 0% yellow and 0% black. In the case of a photographic image, each pixel can be separated into percentages of the four CMYK components, but the separations used for comic books up until the 1980s were much cruder (using only tones of 0%, 25%, 50%, 75% and 100%), leaving colourists such as Adrienne Roy with a greatly reduced selection of colours available (64, to be precise).

The printed result was further hampered by the very course dot grid which in some cases was noticeable not only in close-up as "dotty printing" and which produces the classic Silver and Bronze Age "colour dots". The necessary colour separations were done for both Marvel and DC by the Chemical Color Plate Corporation in Bridgeport CT.

As a colourist, Adrienne Roy eceived quality photostats of the original arwtork but reduced to actual printing size (i.e. roughly two thirds the size of the original artwork), which she would then hand colour.

In addition, Roy (like her fellow colourists) also added codes for the colours used by referring to the CMYK process (e.g. Y50C, which means 50% yellow plus full cyan), which served to produce the colour separations on rubylith acetate. These overlays (one each for CMYK) then went to the camera for the shoot plates.

This process continued into the late 1990s before computer colouring took over, although the better quality paper used later allowed for a larger range of colours and tones.

When computerized colors arrived to comics, assignments to classic colourists decreased substantially, and by the year 2000 Roy had moved out of comics. Following a short battle against cancer, Adrienne Roy passed away in Austin TX on December 14th, 2010.

Adrienne Roy's name has appeared on more Batman comic book credits than anyone else except Bob Kane.

 

Top to bottom: colour proof pages with additional CMYK codes by Adrienne Roy from:
Detective Comics #492 page 3
Detective Comics #492 page 16
Batman #396 page 18
(scanned from the original pages in personal collection)

 

COMMENTS FROM THE BATCAVE
(from the pages of Detective Comics #516)

 
 

"With such a workload, it is amazing that Gerry [Conway] manages to write such consistently good stories. The "I of the Beholder" was fabulous. You've got so many sub-plots going in this book it's impossible to be uninterested in the goings on." (Alfred Boutillier, Barton MD)

"It was also very good to see Don Newton, the master of the Detective art, back. His art was perfect as usual." (Dominec Romano, Toronto Ont.)

"Thank you and good afternoon!" (Dick Giordano, editor)

     

 
 

SPOTLIGHT ON

MIRAGE

IDENTITY - unknown

FIRST APPEARANCE - Detective Comics #511 (February 1982)

CREATED BY - Gerry Conway & Don Newton

CHARACTERIZATION - Illusionist, colourful but marginal villain with very few appearances only

 

ORIGIN & APPEARANCES

First introduced in this issue of Detective Comics, Mirage is a criminal whose identity remains unknown throughout his first published encounter with Batman. He uses a gem that causes people to see elaborate and incredibly realistic illusions, although the exact quality of the power contained within Mirage's gem is of unknown and unexplained origin. Its functionality seems to stem from visual and accoustic stimuli induced by light and audio waves. Mirage then commits his crimes whilst his victims are occupied struggling with - and often fighting against - the illusions they believe they are seeing for real.

 
 
At the end of his initial crime wave, Mirage is brought down by a determined Batman who operates with a special sound-blocking device and his sheer willpower (when the device is smashed up during the fight). During that struggle Mirage remarks that "they never covered this at the Academy! I don't know what to do!" Mirage ends up in prison.

Not followed up on in Detective Comics #511, the meaning of these words is revealed much later, in Batman: Shadow of the Bat #15 (August 1993). Mirage is now shown to be Kerry Austin (sometimes also called Mike) who takes a course at the Academy of Crime and starts using illusions as a gimmicked supervillain.

 
 
He is the boyfriend of Gina Corolla with whom he performs a hypnosis and illusion show act as The Mindbenders at the Gotham Fun Fair. One day he finds a unique round jewel and begins using it as a prop in the act, slowly realising that the gem amplifies his thoughts and makes his illusions seem so real hardly anyone can resist them.
 

 

  He decides to become one of the costumed criminals of Gotham City, wearing a full face mask with a hood and his all-important jewel mounted in a bracelet on his right wrist.

He then embarks on a crash course in the fine art of villainy at the Hollywood-based Academy of Crime. It is upon his return to Gotham City that the events told in Detective Comics #511 then take place.

 
Following the events of Infinite Crisis, Mirage was freed from prison but then murdered by Intergang boss Bruno Mannheim in 52 #25 - putting a final end to all of his illusions.

Reader feedback at the time shows that Mirage was perceived to be an interesting villain, but the potential of his modus operandi and his visuals was never explored any further, neither by his original creator Gerry Conway nor by any other DC writer, so that instead he effectively became a throw-away villain. Clearly falling into the category of illusionist villains (iconically represented by Marvel's Mysterio and DC's Scarecrow) he could have become an interesting Batman antagonist, but just like his illusions Mirage himself ultimately vanished. In fact, DC even passed on the name as Marv Wolfman re-used it in 1991 for a female Teen Titans character.

 
 
BIBLIOGRAPHY

EURY Michael (2011) "Adrienne Roy Interview", in Back Issue #51 (September 2011)

FERRY Ervin Sidney (1921) General Physics and Its Application to Industry and Everyday Life, John Wiley & Sons

TOLLIN Anthony (2010) DC colorist Adrienne Roy: 1953-2010, published online at cbgxtra.com

 

 
 

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The illustrations presented here are copyright material. Their reproduction for the review and research purposes of this website is considered fair use as set out by the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. par. 107.

uploaded to the web 27 December 2015