Author: B.L. Wooldridge
Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Ten Nights of the Beast was a storyline published in Batman #417 through #420, and originally published between the months of March and June 1988. Written by Jim Starlin and illustrated by the late, great Jim Aparo, with stunning covers by Mike Zeck, Ten Nights of the Beast told the story of the Batman’s hunt of a vicious, cybertnetically-enhanced Soviet operative called the KGBeast.

Written in the vein of Tom Clancy’s Cold War novels with ample portions of Ludlum and Fleming thrown in for good measure, TNOTB is a action-packed, exciting read from start to finish as The Batman finally meets his match in the KGBeast, who has gone rogue and free-lance, and is out to eliminate everyone involved in the Strategic Defense Intiative, or “Star Wars,” program. It is a taut, albeit, dated thriller where most of the action, particularly the chases and battles between The Dark Knight and his physically augmented foe are silent with great narration from the Batman’s point of view.

The story comes to an electrifying climax when the Beast targets then President Ronald Reagan himself. The Batman saves the day and the President’s life, and then confronts the Beast in a bloody sewer tunnel battle. Oddly and interestingly enough, rather than beat the KGBeast into submission and deliver him into federal custody, the Batman leaves him in the sewer, locked up (by the Batman’s hand, no less), in a cul-de-sac.

This is one of Jim Starlin’s best stories during his tenure on Batman, perhaps second only to A Death in the Family. And like in ADITF, Starlin introduces geo-political elements, real life leaders, and the Cold War climate to Ten Nights. Starlin tried to make the Batman more worldly during his run, while at the same time, re-affirming the Dark Knight’s place as Gotham’s guardian and the only man truly suited to do it. Starlin wrote the Batman as a merciless errant knight, feared and respected by ally and enemy alike.

Of course, Jim Aparo’s art is crisp, clean, detailed, and at time, gruesome in his depictions of violence. In this author’s opinion, there was no one better at illustrating the Batman than the dearly departed Mr. Aparo. Mike Zeck’s covers to the individual issues are also incredible, as his cover to the 1994 trade paper back. Mr. Zeck’s Batman is huge and robust, but possesses a panther-like grace.

All in all, Ten Nights of the Beast is a great ‘80s Batman story, and should have a place in the greatest tales ever told about hTe Darknight Detective.

B.L. Wooldridge is a graduate of the College of Criminal Justice at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. He currently resides in Barry, Texas, where he does very little besides surf the Internet, write short stories, read comics, and watch an exorbitant amount of cable television.

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